Voice Over Education Blog

May 2016

There's audiobook narrators, and then there's Johnny Heller


I love audiobook narrators.

In my voice-over travels, I have never met a more talented, dedicated, caring group of people. They are extremely generous when it comes to sharing their time & insight with authors and fellow narrators. There are online groups dedicated to asking questions both artistic and technical as well as sharing war stories, triumphs, and challenges in the audiobook narrator community. Barely a minute goes by before a post is answered with thought and consideration. It makes me proud to be an audiobook narrator.

And then there’s Johnny Heller.

Johnny, as my mother would put it, is a mensch. And mishpachah.

In other words, he’s a good man and part of my family. Not just the audiobook family or the Edge Studio family, but my Sunday dinner please-don’t-swipe-my-crescent-roll family.

Don’t get me wrong; he’s a feisty son of gun who always speaks his mind and never spares the rod. That makes the audiobook industry love him all the more for his candor, his wisdom, and his unique sense of humor. Among his many contributions (500+ titles narrated, multiple Audies & Earphone Awards, his "For The Hell Of It” blog, and esteemed Edge Studio coach) is his modestly titled “Johnny Heller 2nd Annual Splendiferous Workshop.”

This year’s Johnny Heller 2nd Annual Splendiferous Workshop, or JWASH2 as I like to call it, was held at Chicago’s East/West University on Monday, May 9th. Over 100 aspiring and veteran audiobook narrators gathered to listen to some of the industry's best talent and coaches wax poetic, philosophic, and instructional.

There's audiobook narrators, and then there's Johnny Heller


I love audiobook narrators.

In my voice-over travels, I have never met a more talented, dedicated, caring group of people. They are extremely generous when it comes to sharing their time & insight with authors and fellow narrators. There are online groups dedicated to asking questions both artistic and technical as well as sharing war stories, triumphs, and challenges in the audiobook narrator community. Barely a minute goes by before a post is answered with thought and consideration. It makes me proud to be an audiobook narrator.

And then there’s Johnny Heller.

Johnny, as my mother would put it, is a mensch. And mishpachah.

In other words, he’s a good man and part of my family. Not just the audiobook family or the Edge Studio family, but my Sunday dinner please-don’t-swipe-my-crescent-roll family.

Don’t get me wrong; he’s a feisty son of gun who always speaks his mind and never spares the rod. That makes the audiobook industry love him all the more for his candor, his wisdom, and his unique sense of humor. Among his many contributions (500+ titles narrated, multiple Audies & Earphone Awards, his "For The Hell Of It” blog, and esteemed Edge Studio coach) is his modestly titled “Johnny Heller 2nd Annual Splendiferous Workshop.”

This year’s Johnny Heller 2nd Annual Splendiferous Workshop, or JWASH2 as I like to call it, was held at Chicago’s East/West University on Monday, May 9th. Over 100 aspiring and veteran audiobook narrators gathered to listen to some of the industry's best talent and coaches wax poetic, philosophic, and instructional.

Confidence in your VO performance. Build it up, not down.


You can tell when a performer lacks confidence. It shows in many ways, all of them detracting from the read, and perhaps hiding the voice actor’s actual capabilities. The read might be halting. Or the voice constricted. Or safest options were chosen. Uptalk. Lack of energy. Unnecessary apologies. Whatever ways insecurity manifests itself, it can be overcome. Be confident of that.

There are three “C”s in voice-over: Control your voice, be Comfortable, and be Confident. The last of these even affects the others.

It’s natural to score low on your confidence meter when in any situation you’re not used to. Especially when the pressure is on. Especially in an artificial situation like acting (and all-by-yourself at the mic, yet). But don’t run yourself down. If you’ve trained for this, be confident in your ability.

Lack of confidence causes you to judge yourself before you’ve even done what you’re judging! Whatever you’re called upon to do, go for it. Often the director (or writer or client) will be very happy with a certain read when the talent doesn’t realize how good it was.

But unwarranted, “false” confidence can be just as harmful. It stands in the way of accepting direction. It leads to the formation of bad habits. And it can cause you to represent yourself as something you’re not. Don’t confuse “confidence” with a lack of self-evaluation, even self-criticism. Those are important capabilities, especially when self-directing and producing in a home studio. The key difference is in knowing when and how to evaluate your work. And to build with your observations, not let them limit you.

William Schallert: Ordinary voice, extraordinary man


William Schallert passed away last week at age 93. Along with memorable roles as the TV father of Patty Duke and in Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode, and steady TV, film and stage work over seven decades, he did a lot of voice-over. He was also President of the Screen Actors Guild at a time when the emergence of pay TV began shaking up the industry. He remained active as an actor and union officer into his nineties.

Although he played a goodly share of villains and other characters in comedic and serious roles, employing a range of accents and mannerisms that came to him rather readily, his go-to persona on screen and in the booth was “warm and friendly.” In VO, Bill Schallert was one of the classic yet ordinary “everyday” voices of male authority, a sort of TV father to us all.

“If I could play somebody’s dad,” he later reminisced, “I was home free.” But actually, he was a more complex actor and person than that.

Despite growing up in Los Angeles and being the son of the LA Times’ drama critic, Schallert said he “kind of stumbled into acting” when someone at a party asked him to read for a play. Schallert hadn’t thought he had much potential, as he didn’t resemble leading men like Tyrone Power or Robert Taylor. He was well received in that play (noting that the role was an old man, and that, with a lot of old people in his family, which included a German-accented grandmother and two alcoholics, he had familiar models to draw on). He informally studied acting at UCLA. During the war, stage facilities were scarce, so students worked in a new format -- theater-in-the-round. After WWII, he helped form LA’s Circle Theater, which Schallert later described as a “serious” theater (as opposed to an extension of acting instruction), something rare in LA in those days.

William Schallert: Ordinary voice, extraordinary man


William Schallert passed away last week at age 93. Along with memorable roles as the TV father of Patty Duke and in Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode, and steady TV, film and stage work over seven decades, he did a lot of voice-over. He was also President of the Screen Actors Guild at a time when the emergence of pay TV began shaking up the industry. He remained active as an actor and union officer into his nineties.

Although he played a goodly share of villains and other characters in comedic and serious roles, employing a range of accents and mannerisms that came to him rather readily, his go-to persona on screen and in the booth was “warm and friendly.” In VO, Bill Schallert was one of the classic yet ordinary “everyday” voices of male authority, a sort of TV father to us all.

“If I could play somebody’s dad,” he later reminisced, “I was home free.” But actually, he was a more complex actor and person than that.

Despite growing up in Los Angeles and being the son of the LA Times’ drama critic, Schallert said he “kind of stumbled into acting” when someone at a party asked him to read for a play. Schallert hadn’t thought he had much potential, as he didn’t resemble leading men like Tyrone Power or Robert Taylor. He was well received in that play (noting that the role was an old man, and that, with a lot of old people in his family, which included a German-accented grandmother and two alcoholics, he had familiar models to draw on). He informally studied acting at UCLA. During the war, stage facilities were scarce, so students worked in a new format -- theater-in-the-round. After WWII, he helped form LA’s Circle Theater, which Schallert later described as a “serious” theater (as opposed to an extension of acting instruction), something rare in LA in those days.

How to Reach Us

Call us 888-321-3343
Email us training@edgestudio.com

Click for Edge location information...

Meet Your Coaches

Edge Alumni Work Everyday

Get free educational
voice over newsletters!

Get free, educational voice over newsletters

Where should we send them?