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Boss Performance: VO BOSS – CastVoices – The Shortlist

The finalists are in! “Anne of Aspercreme” and Liz Atherton have listened to all 73 auditions in our VO BOSS CastVoices contest and narrowed it down to their short-list! Get an in-depth behind the scenes perspective on their casting process, and hear their thoughts on the finalists. Then it’s your turn to be the casting director. You can listen to the finalists and vote on your favorites and stay tuned next week for our casting decision.

PLEASE NOTE:  Thanks for playing! Our Audition is now closed!  Feel free to give a listen to our entries for a limited time here:


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. You can listen to the finalists and vote on your favorites and stay tuned next week for our casting decision.

  2. “Anne of Aspercreme” and Liz Atherton received 73 auditions in the first-ever VO BOSS Cast Voices Contest

  3. Listening to a large amount of auditions can be tasking for any casting director. It takes a huge amount of time

  4. There were so many good auditions, that choosing was hard!Anne’s Process: First go around, jotting down anyone who catches my ear. This yielded nine finalists for both spots, which I then narrowed down to three

  5. Liz’s Process: The first pass had 16, then narrowed down to three

  6. When you have a casting director that says “give me two takes”, make those two takes sound very different.

  7. 9 times out of 10, people barely changed their second read

  8. Just because you threw improv into the second take, does not mean it’s a varied take. You really need to change up your second read.

  9. The changes can be nuanced, but they must be distinct

  10. Be sure to follow instructions. If you didn’t include a second take, you weren’t put on the shortlist

  11. Including a varied second take shows that you can be directed into any read

  12. If a casting director asks for a second take, and you don’t use that to show range, you are shortchanging yourself

  13. You hear what you want to hire when it “walks through the door”

  14. If someone doesn’t fit the specs, but you liked their read… WINNER!

  15. A typical casting is 400 voices, and this is why casting directors don’t give feedback, and might not listen to all submissions.

  16. Do your homework. Make sure you’re researching the product, and understand how to pronounce the product name.

  17. Take a look at the brand website and look at how they are branding their product

  18. Good studio sound is imperative, especially now. Voices without pro studio sound were left off the shortlist

  19. It’s important to be able to create a sound so that you can create a sound that studio engineers can work with

  20. Winners will receive a VO BOSS Blast, Targeted Marketing Campaign and a one-year pro membership to Cast Voices

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Listen to the Finalists for Hopscotch
Listen to the Finalists for Walter
Learn more about the VO BOSS Blast
Learn more about CastVoices
Recorded on ipDTL
Badass editing by Carl Bahner


[vc_column_text]>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.

Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with the casting bee, Liz Atherton. [laughs] Hey Liz. How are you today?

Liz: Anne, I’m good. You know [laughs] it’s pretty weather. We had a thunderstorm overnight, but Anne, you and I took on something, didn’t we?

Anne: Oh my goodness, we did.

Liz: Oh Lord.

Anne: I think you BOSSes heard about it last night when we were going, oh no, I ran out of time! I spent a good portion of the weekend just, you know, focused, head down, listening to all of these amazing auditions that we had for our first ever VO BOSS CastVoices contest. And we have got some results for you, or at least Liz and I have our shortlist results for you.

Liz: We do, but I got to tell you a little something first. My house has never been more clean. When I have a task like that that is really grueling, I do a little and then I find a reason to do something else. I had to listen to these. There were over 70 of them that I listened to and gave feedback on. And you have done the same thing. But I’d listen to five and I ‘m like, I got to get up and do something, so let’s clean out the refrigerator.

[both laugh]

Liz: Listen to five more. Oh let’s rearrange the living room.

Anne: [laughs]

Liz: It was just awful. I’m really proud of both tasks now being done. It’s a true story.

Anne: Oh my goodness, the amount of amazing auditions, I have to say. Like it was tough. It was so tough coming up with these. And literally I had a process that I went through, and I had multiple lists actually.

Liz: Me too!

Anne: I went from, you know, my first, I just started jotting down anybody that caught my ear and I was like ooh, I’m going to write that down. My first go-around, I came up with nine people for both roles as my shortlist. And then I had to narrow that puppy down to three, which was very difficult.

Liz: Man, I was the same way. I narrowed Hopscotch down to 16. [laughs] Walter down to 13. And then to eight, and to six, and to five, and to three. It was really a difficult thing. But managed through, and yeah. Why don’t we talk about them?

Anne: Yeah. Let me ask you, was there anything overall, would you say, in regards to listening to all of them together that you can comment on in regards to –

Liz: Yes.

Anne: – I don’t know, people could have done for a better audition, or things that stood out to you?

Liz: Yes, for sure. So when you have a casting director that says, give me two takes, make those two takes sound very different – I cannot tell you the number of times that I went in and said, listen. You sound like so-and-so, or you can create a character. You can do something. Use that second take as an opportunity to do something completely different, and completely different doesn’t mean lowering your register, although you can kind of get away with it, sounding different that way. Completely different doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re talking slower. It’s like a different read, different inflections. That was a resounding theme for me for people, because you know, nine times out of ten, and literally about nine times out of ten, whatever statistic that would work out to be, people were just barely changing their second read. Listen, in an audition that casting director’s listening for your tone and your intonation and how they think you can deliver the lines. Just changing it up a wee bit for the second one, you know, some people threw in improv, which was really cool, but a little improv, but the read sounds the same, is not a different read.

Anne: Yes, I have to agree with you there that just because you threw improv into the second take doesn’t mean that that is a varied take. I have to agree with you, you really need to change up your second read. And interestingly enough, it can be a very nuanced change. But there is a very distinct change from one read to the other. Those were some that really stood out to me that could really make a nuanced change. I love that. But yeah, no, just the addition of improv didn’t necessarily do that for me. And then there were people who I really liked, and they didn’t offer a second take. And that was one of the reasons why they, well, they might have made my first shortlist because I really loved their voice, but when I had to narrow that down, because they didn’t do a second take, I was like questioning, “hmm is there something else that I might be able to get from them in a directed session?”

Liz: Right.

Anne: They kind of fell off the short shortlist.

Liz: I get it. Here’s the thing. If a casting director again asking is for a second take, and you don’t use that as an opportunity to show range, you’re just, like you pointed out, you could be shortchanging yourself on a callback or a booking. There’s an old adage, you hear what you want to hire when it walks in the door.

Anne: Yeah.

Liz: You can spec it out to the earth, but if somebody walks in, and it doesn’t necessarily, or he or she doesn’t necessarily exactly meet your specs, but you dig their read, winner! Use your second takes to give something like that.

Anne: I’m going to say that I had a specific voice in my head that I was looking for in each of these roles. And if there was someone that came in with a really amazing take, I was almost swayed to change that, especially if there were two amazing takes. Because then I rethought perhaps the tone of the job that was going to go out. Because they allowed me to maybe further my own creativity about what could be done with the spot. So I really enjoyed that and listening to that. For the most part I have a specific audience in mind. I have a specific – like, I know what the product is. I know who the client is gearing the audience to be in terms of that product, and that does have a major effect on who my voice selection was to begin with. However if there was somebody that maybe came in that was maybe a younger sound than I was looking for, but they did a really awesome job on their audition, I tended to look at it differently, say “hmm maybe this can broaden our audience range.”

Liz: And you’re highlighting exactly why casting is so difficult. For the 28 or 30 people that went through all 70-plus auditions and offered feedback, bravo, because a typical casting might be 400 voices.

Anne: I know, and this was only 73, Liz, and I was like oh my gosh! This is a lot.

Liz: The difference is, Anne – it is. The difference is that casting don’t typically offer you feedback for this very reason. They’re not going to sit and read through all of those. You have got that ten seconds, five seconds to pop into their head. That’s why you really put your best foot forward. But let’s go through some of these so people can kind of hear. You and I have very different picks, which doesn’t mean either of us are right or wrong.

Anne: Exactly. So our first is going to be for Hopscotch, I believe.

Liz: I think so.

Anne: Let’s play your three on the shortlist.

>> Andrew Lander. When you jump into life feet first, it can be painful. Introducing Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Relieves aggravated nerves and moisturizes dry skin. 93% saw a visible difference. New Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Live feet first. [repeats]

Liz: So what I really liked about Andrew is that I feel like his voice would sell me on the product. It was clear. You really don’t know how old or how young he is.

Anne: Yeah.

Liz: My guess from the read is he is in his late 30’s, early 40’s. I thought he was relatable, and I thought he was a good choice. Let’s go to the next one.

>> Lynn Norris. When you jump into life feet first, it can be painful. Introducing Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Relieves aggravated nerves and moisturizes dry skin. 93% saw a visible difference. New Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Go on, live feet first. [repeats without “go on”]

Liz: So again with Lynn, you don’t necessarily know how old she is, but she offered a lot of nice inflection in her voice. I feel like she would be totally coachable, directable in what I would be hoping to hear. I also liked that she was kind of a direct, not in your face, but just a direct approach. Here, look, lidocaine will work for you. And then what about that last one?

Anne: Okay, here comes the last one.

>> Marie Hoffman. When you jump into life feet first, it can be painful. Introducing Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Relieves aggravated nerves and moisturizes dry skin. 93% saw a visible difference. New Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Live feet first. [repeats]

Liz: So Marie has this most, to me, unique voice. It feels like a mature voice, and I think a mature voice is probably, for this particular spot, good. I mean, she could have probably done the Walter as well and maybe be more age-appropriate, but I liked her voice. It felt to me like it was someone I could trust that was telling me something good, and I would want to buy a product from her.

Anne: Absolutely. Great. I thought they were all great choices. There were some of them that were absolutely on one of my shortlists. So I agree with you there in terms of what I thought to be appropriate for the spot. So let’s hear my three shortlists for this spot. And let’s begin with…

>> Jason Arnold. When you jump into life feet first, it can be painful. Introducing Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Relieves aggravated nerves and moisturizes dry skin. 93% saw a visible difference. New Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Live feet first. [repeats]

Anne: Okay. For this one I just, I loved his voice for the spot. I thought it was a nice, neutral spot. Obviously depending on the scene and how the commercial is being laid out, if there’s usually footage of it, that I’ve seen so far, I already know what’s happening on screen, I thought that his voice was a nice complement to that. I did have questions, and I wanted to mention this prior, for the name of the product, okay? So in looking up the name of the product, Aspercreme is the name of the product, but this particular product is “Aspercreme with lidocaine.” And it is a foot pain cream. In terms of phrasing of that product, we had all different styles in all different –

Liz: Yes, ma’am.

Anne: We had “Aspercreme” with “lidocaine foot pain cream.” We had “Aspercreme with lidocaine” foot pain cream. My take is that it’s Aspercreme with lidocaine. I actually looked that up on Google. What about you, Liz?

Liz: I had the same thing. I didn’t quite know how to phrase it in feedback for some of them. But to me, it’s [sic] Aspercreme lidocream foot cream cream, the whole thing. I wouldn’t chop it. Lots of people did.

Anne: Yeah, they did.

Liz: And some of my counsel along the way and feedback, although it could probably apply to everybody, talk to somebody when you’re working on your copy. And talk to them. It’s a very, I’s a conversational practice. Talk with them. See if you can deliver the lines to them in a way that sounds believable, because you don’t always talk. like this. and. move. all. over. the – you know, you talk like this. Sometimes you have some inflection in that reads. I agree with you. I think Jason was a great, great read as well.

Anne: He had some nice improv going into the second part which made him sound super conversational. And again, there was some brilliant parts of both of his reads, which I really liked, which is what made him make him make my shortlist. Let’s move on to my second choice for that.

>> Susan Prichard. When you jump into life feet first, it can be painful. Introducing Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Relieves aggravated nerves and moisturizes dry skin. 93% saw a visible difference. New Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Live feet first. [repeats]

Anne: Okay. So I, I just loved Susan’s voice for this particular spot. I thought that it had so much texture and a lot of friendly, a lot of kind to it. I really, really loved her range in terms of the different sounds that she could produce. I thought that her different takes would allow me to be able to direct her more easily in a session if I wanted to go one way versus the other.

Liz: Agreed, she’s great.

Anne: Okay, so let’s go on to my third.

>> Katie Flammand. When you jump into life feet first, it can be painful. Introducing Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Relieves aggravated nerves and moisturizes dry skin. 93% saw a visible difference. New Aspercreme with lidocaine foot pain cream. Live feet first. [repeats]

Anne: Okay. So for Katie I loved, loved, loved her variation in between her takes. So nuanced.

Liz: Yes, ma’am.

Anne: But also very interesting which I really noticed on her reads was she really told the story all the way through the spot. So there’s certain times when I would hear a voice and they would start off a great, and they would be telling a story talking to me and engaging me, but somehow in the middle of the copy, they might lose that, that engagement with me. I felt that Katie really was telling the story the full way through, and it moisturizes, and that, you know, and that kind of a thing. She kept her storytelling all the way through. Because she had such great different takes, I was very confident that she would be able to be directed.

Liz: Absolutely. Katie is so talented. Her second take just knocked it out of the park.

Anne: Absolutely.

Liz: Hey and Anne, I want to just say something just real quick, just in case. Guys, I’m recording as best I can, but my neighbors decided to chop down and saw down every tree –

Anne: Yeah, I’m hearing that.

Liz: – that they have. And I, there’s nothing I can do about it, and Anne and I are on deadlines, so Carl, I’m sorry!

Anne: [laughs] Carl, Carl will have his, Carl will have his work cut out for him.

Liz: I know, and I’m sorry. So I keep hitting the mute. And guys, listen, don’t hold anybody responsible except me on this. It’s just a, it’s the nuance. I apologize because I can hear it through my headphones. I know you can hear it too. Please forgive me!

Anne: Not a problem. Not a problem. We forgive you, Liz. Awesome. So those, this is our shortlist for Hopscotch. So let’s talk a little bit about Walter.

Liz: Walter!

Anne: Walter will go –

Liz: It was a fun one.

Anne: It was a fun one. We showcased someone last week in our podcast because they had really produced such a unique take, which is what, after listening to 70-some-odd auditions was something that really stood out to us. We wanted to put that into a positive light. And again, going through all of these, there are definitely things that help make your audition stand out. So let’s talk about the Walter spot, shall we?

Liz: Ready.

Anne: Okay, here we go.

>> George Orlando. Aspercreme is odor free so you can have maximum pain relief without that Walter smell. Aspercreme, no pain, no odor. [repeats]

Liz: Okay, so George puts a beep in. That’s not anything you ever need to do. That’s kind of the feedback I gave him. And he doesn’t necessarily vary from read to read. However to me his voice is quintessential ad voice. I really like his voice. And I think, you know, he reads it and I think he’s, could do whatever you wanted him to do, and he’s subtle in the way he says “that Walter smell.”

Anne: Absolutely. There’s so much to be said for subtleness and nuance in your reads. It really does make a difference.

Liz: And it creates, for the person that’s listening, it’s their interpretation, right? But you give them a little nudge about what they could think.

Anne: Exactly, exactly. Choice two for you.

Liz: Okay.

>> Michelle Campbell Jones. Aspercreme is odor free so you can have maximum pain relief without that Walter smell. Aspercreme, no pain, no odor. [repeats]

Liz: You know, I giggle just listening to her again.

Anne: Oh I know. [laughs]

Liz: Both of her reads, you know, were just different and subtle and yes, that’s a second Brit in our top 12. But man oh man oh man, she’s lovely. I thought it was a great read, and I, you know, she’s kind of funny. I just thought she was terrific.

Anne: I agree. I completely agree. You’ll hear why when my selections come up. Here we go, third pick.

>> Michael Kearns. Aspercreme is odor free so you can have maximum pain relief without that Walter smell. Aspercreme, no pain, no odor. [repeats]

Liz: Now listen to that voice. First of all, it’s unique.

Anne: Yeah.

Liz: It is not your – I mean everybody has got a unique voice, yes, yes. But he’s got this, I don’t know, just a real nice twangish, not Texan, but to it, yet he still sounded conversational. I just think that it’s a terrific voice and it can sell a product.

Anne: I feel like there’s a lot of personality that comes through in that voice.

Liz: Yes.

Anne: Lots of great personality.

Liz: That’s a great way to put it.

Anne: I feel like I know him already which is really cool.

Liz: I know, right?

Anne: All right.

>> Ray Whitbeck. Aspercreme is odor free so you can have maximum pain relief without that Walter smell. Aspercreme, no pain, no odor. [repeats]

Anne: So Ray made me smile with that first Walter interpretation. I’ll tell you what. If you can make your casting director smile, that is really gold.

Liz: Absolutely.

Anne: Especially when there is a spot that calls for the humor in it. I think you really need to kind of play on that humor, whether it be a subtle play on humor or even a more obvious play on the humor, it really needs to be something that’s called out because the copy is asking for it.

Liz: And in some of my feedback to people, I was like smell something that stinks when you’re saying “that Walter smell.” Live it! You know, they don’t have to see you smelling it, but they will see you through their ears.

Anne: Yeah. Then he continued with the second read which was a little more casual and friendly regarding the Walter humor. So it was a little more nuanced. By the way –

Liz: Good choice.

Anne: I think that he has, his soundalike is Wallace Shawn. [laughs] So anybody that’s a –

Liz: Yeah.

Anne: – Wallace Shawn fan, which I am, absolutely. That’s something I would say to throw on your website that there is a sound alike there.

>> Brie Herbert. Aspercreme is odor free so you can have maximum pain relief without that Walter smell. Aspercreme, no pain, no odor. [repeats]

Anne: I loved Brie’s reads, such a cute voice. And here is one that surprised me. And I was thinking again, maybe I wanted some, in my initial brain, I wanted more of a, maybe an older sounding voice, but Brie had a real friendly, went along with the humor of the spot. It’s almost as if you were looking on into the commercial and just really working it well in conjunction with what’s happening on the screen.

Liz: Totally agree. She was one of my shortlist ones too. Good choice.

Anne: Here’s my third short list, which will sound familiar to you.

>> Michelle Campbell Jones. Aspercreme is odor free so you can have maximum pain relief without that Walter smell. Aspercreme, no pain, no odor. [repeats]

Anne: Yeah, I love, love, love, I love how she nailed the Walter, the humor in the Walter in both of her takes. I thought that it was probably one of the strongest humor punches in both takes of any of the auditions that I listened to.

Liz: I remember, it’s Olivia Coleman. That’s who she sounds like to me. I’m like, man oh man, Brie, you’ve got an opportunity to really lay into that character for your second read on every audition because everybody is digging on Olivia right now. And Brie sounds different but not. She’s just spot on.

Anne: So the other thing I wanted to point out by the way, is because we had a couple of Brits in our selections, and I was actually concerned about okay, where is this going to be airing, and is it appropriate? Because it is a consideration that I think that casting directors have to take obviously. Where is this going to be airing and is it appropriate that we would have a Brit voice that would be a spokesperson for the product, and absolutely Aspercreme is sold globally. [laughs]

Liz: So Anne of Aspercreme, you did your homework. [laughs]

Anne: And I think all of you have to do your own homework as well. Make sure you’re researching the product, if it exists, and understanding how to pronounce the product name, and take a look at the website and see how they’re branding that product. That can give you some clues and some insight as to how you might want to voice it or maybe voice a second take completely differently. Also I did want to mention studio sound. Good studio sound is imperative, especially now. Because I did have voices in there that I loved that were on my first initial shortlist, but when it came to paring them down to my actual shortlist of three, I did take the studio sound into consideration because it is important that you’re going to be able to create a sound that client engineers can work with. So keep that in mind, guys. Get your studios upgraded. Make sure that your sound is the absolute best that can come out of your studio.

Liz: As well you should be though. So Anne, from here, where do we go?

Anne: Well, I want to have this opened up to you guys, you BOSSes out there, you listeners, to vote. Let’s pick a winner for each spot.

Liz: I like that idea. So Anne and I are going to set up a link that you can sign on, or to go to and vote on your top choice. Just pick one for each category. And whoever gets the most votes wins. But you won’t be able to see everybody’s vote. And we’ll bring that back to you this next week with all sorts of good information.

Anne: And Liz, what are they going to win? [laughs]

Liz: So Anne, the winner of Walter will win a one-year, fully pro membership on CastVoices. And since we’re launching here in just a couple of months, that’s really cool. It’s really cool. It’s about a $300 value. Cool beans.

Anne: Awesome. The winner of Hopscotch is going to win their very own BOSS Blast. You too can get your very own BOSS Blast. Find out more at and check out the shop for BOSS Blast. It is your very own targeted marketing email campaign to a targeted list that we set up specifically and customize just for you. It is a vetted custom list that only you get to use. We’ll be sending that out to the winner of Hopscotch. And that is a value of over $500.

Liz: That’s awesome. Yeah, I think this is a really good exercise, Anne, and I hope people got an insight into how difficult the casting process is, how important it is that you pay attention in your auditions, you do your research, as you suggested, and you nail it and you give alternate reads and all that kind of stuff because especially in this one, some very stiff competition. And you certainly want to land the job.

Anne: Absolutely. I want to thank all of you guys for playing, and let’s continue the contest. So I want you guys all out there voting on who your favorite is, and I think it was an amazing, amazing learning experience for all of us. So thanks so much to you, Liz, for helping me with this as well as all of you BOSSes out there, commenting. Keep that up, and voting. So with that, I’d like to give a great, big shoutout to our sponsor ipDTL which allows us to do these awesome things once a week, every week with my good buddy Liz. So you guys have an amazing –

Liz: [laughs] I love you.

Anne: I love you too. You guys have an amazing week, and we’ll see you next week.

Liz: Awesome.

Anne: Bye!

Liz: Bye-bye!

>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.