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Finding Your Audition Process

with Kesha Monk

Do you have a process for your auditions? Anne and special guest co-host Kesha Monk share the tips and tricks that make their auditions stand out. Knowing what’s behind the words is just as important as setting the scene or creating your character. Anne Gangoogle it! Like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. This episode will help make your next audition worth the listen.



Takeaways

Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Everyone has a different process for auditions, depending on the instructions given

  2. If you’re rushing to put out too many auditions, you can sometimes fall into the trap of “reading” the script without developing the scene

  3. Spend some time before you record an audition to research the product

  4. Spending more time preparing for auditions can help increase your booking rate

  5. For commercial auditions, find out as much as you can about the product, google it, look up recent commercials from that company on YouTube to understand the sound or trends in the videos

  6. Research the target audience of the advertisement. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can also help by telling you what other people are saying about the product 

  7. When given a celebrity reference, study their tone, cadences, and use of body, then channel that person during your audition. Don’t do an impersonation unless asked

  8. Use your body and hands when reading copy. It helps bring authenticity to your read.

  9. If you’re standing still behind the mic and not moving it can throw off your timing and sound “read”

  10. Give the casting director what they’re asking for, but don’t get lost in the specs. You can only be you

  11. As human beings, we connect to one another. Bring this to your auditions

  12. Before you submit to an agency, check out their roster and look for how you might fill a need. If someone is similar, do not submit 

  13. Find smaller agencies and production houses that don’t yet have someone with your voice

  14. Giving two takes on short copy, with different spins can help with your booking. If you can’t give a different authentic take, only submit one take

  15. A slate (or lack thereof) can make or break if a casting director will listen to the rest of your audition


Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++


Read what goes on in the head of the casting director on Anne’s blog
Recorded on ipDTL

Transcript

>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere 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 my really wonderful friend and amazing special guest co-host, Miss Kesha Monk.

Kesha: Bonjour! How you doin’?

Anne: Oh bonjour!

[both laugh]

Anne: She is a multi-talented girl. [laughs] For sure. And [laughs] I just love discovering these new little tidbits about you, Kesha. You never, you never cease to amaze me, that is for sure.

Kesha: I’m a lot of work, I really am. I truly am, trust me.

Anne: [laughs] “I’m a lot of work!”

Kesha: I am. [laughs]

Anne: [laughs] You know, Kesha, it’s just after the holidays, and stuff is starting to pick up again. And I’ve got a boatload of auditions in my inbox.

Kesha: Yes. That’s a good thing.

Anne: From my agents.

Kesha: That’s a good thing.

Anne: It is a good thing. And so I thought it might be kind of cool to discuss auditioning, the process.

Kesha: I’m pretty good at that.

Anne: [laughs]

Kesha: Pretty good.

Anne: I’d love to hear what your process — because you and I probably audition — I mean, I think we both audition for commercials, and anything that our agents give out to us, and video games, and that sort of thing. You have a different avenue though that you work in that I don’t, which is like promo, live announce, that sort of thing. You’re getting some probably different auditions than me. I’d love to hear like your process, and maybe by discussing our processes together, we might come up with some tips and tricks for our listeners out there.

Kesha: That’d be great. That’d be great. I just hope I don’t turn them off, because I, I am a lot of work. Like I just, I never pick up copy and just read it. We’ll get into it.

Anne: Well, you know, I think that that is actually a good thing, because I personally think that so many of us just get the audition, and we’re trying to put out as many auditions as possible because we want to get the gig. And when we do that, we just run into the booth, and then we read. Do you know what I mean? Our intention is not to — I mean, we might do a big set-up. We say “ok, so if they want like conversational, I’m gonna be Anne, and I’m gonna talk to my friend.” And I think we do a bunch of setup, but we don’t really investigate maybe the product that we’re talking about, and we don’t necessarily, I’m gonna say, develop the scene enough so that we’re continually having a conversation or a reaction or an emotion to something.

Kesha: Right.

Anne: That’s where I think spending a little more time before you actually roll out the audition, to research the product, I think that’s an absolute great way to get started. For me, I do a lot of corporate narrations.

Kesha: Yeah.

Anne: And I think investigating who the company is and what their product is, whether it’s for corporate narration or commercial, that, number one, can really help you to get a backstory and some information about that product that you can bring to light through your voice.

Kesha: Absolutely. And it will help with your overall delivery if you really, truly know what you are voicing, you know? So yeah, I —

Anne: So what’s your process? Tell me. Tell me, how do you go about, what do you do?

Kesha: Girl.

Anne: [laughs]

Kesha: It sounds like a lot. But I absolutely cannot — let me first start by saying if you’re doing voiceover, and you get an audition, and you, you know, and you print out your script or whatever, and you jump right in the booth, for whatever reason, maybe for time constraint, you know — you know, it’s due at 6:00, it’s 3:00. You want to kind of get — I get it. I get it. I’ve done that before.

Anne: Oh, me too.

Kesha: But what I’ve started to realize is that I really wasn’t booking as much as I should have been if I just would have put a little bit more effort —

Anne: Yeah.

Kesha: — into preparing for the audition. So just to kind of walk you through, give you the visual. Let’s say for instance, let’s say for instance I get an audition for McDonald’s, ok? Everybody knows McDonald’s, you know, but I’m a vegan, so I — I’m not really a vegan. I’m just, I’m giving you the scenario here. Let’s just say I’m a vegan, and McDonald’s just isn’t my thing. I’ve seen the commercials, you know I’ve grown up with McDonald’s. They’ve been around for 1000 years. I kind of know the brand. But my goal is to want to make you, Anne, run out to McDonald’s and get that burger, not because of all the great optics that, you know, that come with the McDonald’s commercial, have you licking your lips. But that voice is really the thing that connects you with whoever is watching the commercial, right?

Anne: Yep, yep.

Kesha: So I, I’ll go to YouTube, you know, YouTube University. They have the answer for everything. And not only will I educate —

Anne: [laughs] Google!

Kesha: Right, exactly. Hello!

Anne: Anne Gangoogle it. That’s what I always say.

Kesha: Anne Gangoogle is your best friend, trust me when I tell you, ok? So I, absolutely. So you know, I’ll research, not only will I research the product — maybe the commercial is about a quarter pounder with cheese. Not only will I research the product, but I’ll —

Anne: Now I’m hungry.

Kesha: I know, right? But I’ll pull up a couple of, you know, recent commercials just to kind of understand the trend maybe.

Anne: Yes.

Kesha: Or maybe there’s a particular sound that I may notice that’s in common. And McDonald’s commercials are different from region to region. I remember reading a string of McDonald’s commercials one time. I don’t know, one was for, you know, the, the west coast. One was for the mid — you know. They may all be different. They all are, they truly do cater to different audiences. Maybe they want an African-American voice, or maybe they want, you know, they’re different. So I’ll study the trends. I’ll see what they’ve done recently. I’ll go to iSpot.tv, and I’ll — I really go overboard with the research. And again, not that I’m trying to emulate, you know, these things. I always put my person — I’ll always be Kesha, unapologetically without a shadow of a doubt, but it does definitely help with the overall delivery of how I may read the copy.

Anne: So in terms of casting specs, if they’re asking for a specific soundalike, how do you attack that? It’s still Kesha but with a soundalike?

Kesha: Definitely and it really depends. As of late, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for Viola Davis. And I love that. I love that because again, not necessarily in the realm where I try to imitate her, but I’m also a musician.

Anne: You channel her.

Kesha: Yeah, I definitely channel her. She has a lower register. I do lower registers very well, if you haven’t been able to tell.

[both laugh]

Kesha: And you know again, I’m into music, so I’ll study her cadences. I love watching, you know, again, this is voiceover, but I also like to — this is kind of weird — I like to use my body when I’m reading copy, you know what I mean?

Anne: Oh, absolutely.

Kesha: Shrugging my shoulders, using my hands. I’m really, really dramatic. It really helps with my read. I’ll see how she, you know, how she uses her body. And that’s basically how I do it.

Anne: Well you know, when you’re connecting in real life to another person, it’s amazing what we, what we don’t realize we do. Right? We physicate, we use our hands, we use our face to show expression.

Kesha: Yes!

Anne: And I think, I don’t know what happens sometimes, but people get behind the mic, and they forget about all that. And you know, you’re standing straight behind. I’m like, “no, no, no, I need those hands to be moving.” And I think one of the most important things for me to get — and it always, even for myself, they help me to bring more energy to the read.

Kesha: Yeah!

Anne: It also helps me to dissipate energy from my mouth, ok?

Kesha: Yes!

Anne: What I mean by that is, a lot of times if you’re just performing, and you’re standing behind the mic, and the energy is coming out of your mouth and you’re not moving other than that, then your mouth has all the energy. And sometimes that can be a little like, “I’m right up here in your ear.” You could be a little bit brash or a little bit loud sometimes. And I feel like — it also doesn’t help your timing at all. Because when we are working with one another or talking to one another, we’re having a conversation or we’re in the middle of an action, we move around. And that needs to be replicated behind the mic. And it helps to dissipate all that maybe upfront energy out of your mouth into a natural timing. So we’re thinking, we’re moving. That’s dissipating — I’m kind of doing it right now. I’m like [laughs]

Kesha: I totally am. I have to be careful, be sure not to hit the mic. You know, that’s how much I move around. I hit the mic often. But girl, let me tell you, let me tell you something, Anne. I struggle, and I’m sure there are a lot of BOSSes out there that struggle with the conversational read. Right? That’s, it’s the weirdest thing. We con — you know, we converse all day, every day. But when it comes to having a script and trying to translate that into conversation, that’s hard to do.

Anne: Yes.

Kesha: But listen up, BOSSes. I’m dropping a jewel. Use your hands. Because when you talk, you use — you know, it’s natural to use your hands to help express. Using your hands when you’re reading a conversational script will definitely help you deliver.

Anne: Yeah, absolutely shrug your shoulders. I love that you say that. A lot of times that helps to bring it back. It helps to dissipate that energy so it’s not so up front, and it brings it back to more real, and you’re not stressed and up in your, up in your throat. [laughs]

Kesha: That’s right.

Anne: That’s what I like to say. If you’re all up in your throat, shrug your shoulders, bring it back down.

Kesha: If you’re asking a question, scratch your head. Use your eyebrows. Scratch your head. You know, I like to grab my chin a lot like “hmmm,” like “really?” You know, I do that. Girl, I got to start video-taping myself because I really thinks it’s interesting, but I think it will help. I think it will help people. You know, it really, really does help.

Anne: Now here’s a question that a lot of people, they’ve asked me in the past, but I know a lot of people might be thinking about — when they have the specs, right, do you follow the specs? Or are you pretty much just doing Kesha and your interpretation of the script?

Kesha: That’s a really, really good idea. Because when I first started, I would try to really give them exactly what those specs were asking for.

Anne: Me too.

Kesha: But now I kind of tread lightly. I get the gist of, you know, what they, you know, what they’re asking for, but I don’t get lost in the specs.

Anne: Yeah.

Kesha: Because if you get lost in the specs, you’ll obsess over them.

Anne: Well yeah, and then you’re trying to sound like, and whenever you try to sound like something, then all your attention is on what you sound like and not about the content that you’re speaking or the connection that you’re trying to bring to the listener.

Kesha: Right, and here’s the thing. You always have to remember you can only be you. Yeah, I get a lot of Viola Davis requests and Queen Latifah and all these you know. But for the most part, I can only be me. So I do read the specs, I do try to respect, you know, re-spec, what they, what they’re asking for.

Anne: Re-spec.

Kesha: But I totally do not get lost in it, and I don’t obsess. I don’t obsess.

Anne: You know, I think, I think a lot of, a lot of students that I’ve worked with in the past, if they do character reads, they don’t have any problem being conversational in a character read. And I find that so amazing because they can be conversational doing a character, but yet it’s hard for them to be conversational being themselves.

Kesha: Yeah.

Anne: And I think a lot of that is a mental thing, where I think we feel our performed voice is, sounds better than maybe our real voice.

Kesha: Right.

Anne: Or at least that’s a lot of what I get most of the time in terms of students saying, “well, I really don’t, I really don’t like the way my voice sounds,” or “I can’t stand to listen to myself.” It amazes me how many voice artists say that to me, “well, I really can’t stand to listen to myself.” I’m like —

Kesha: Um hello? I’m raising my hand right now, like I’m one of those.

Anne: You have to fight, you have to fight that. Really as human beings, we connect to one another. I think that’s underlying everything that you have to bring to that read and that audition. And in terms of researching, I love what you said about the specs, and you re-spec [laughs] I love that you re-spec, because re-spec the spec, because I, for the longest time, tried to give them everything they wanted. That ended up trying too hard to sound like that. And when I did that, I sounded nothing like myself, and I sounded very announcery, I sounded very fake.

Kesha: Yeah.

Anne: And you know, just understanding, going and researching like you were talking about, I’m like Anne Gangoogle it, look at the company’s webpage, look at their recent trends, look at — you can tell a lot by landing on a website on the first page and seeing, what is their brand? Are they bright and cheery? Are they, you know, professional and elegant? What is their brand and what do you think they are trying to send out to their, you know, followers or, you know, their customers? And try to, try to be the voice of that company. I mean, it’s not even like — you have to bring, you have to bring yourself and be the employee of that company, because you’re selling that product.

Kesha: Let me drop another jewel for you. So I’ll Google — and I’m dropping jewels — I’ll Google and I’ll YouTube, but if I really want to get into it, I’ll go to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and just Google to see what other people are saying about the product and/or company, because that’s the target, right? So you know, Macy’s, we all know Macy’s. It’s a great store. You know, I think about, you know, the Macy’s on 34th Street. There are a lot — and I have a lot of personal connections with Macy’s. But you know, I want to see what somebody said about their experience at Macy’s yesterday. So you may be able to find that on Facebook by just Googling Macy’s. Again on any forum, again, you are talking to that particular audience. And BOSSes, I know it sounds like a lot, but I’m telling you, if you are just willing to put in —

Anne: It isn’t.

Kesha: — a few minutes to know what you know, right, that’s all, your reads will be 1000% better. You’ll have a thorough understanding of what you’re talking about.

Anne: I’m so glad that you said that, I’m so glad that you said that.

Kesha: Yeah!

Anne: Because so many times we think, “oh, I don’t have the time to go” — it literally takes minutes to just go to a webpage, check out a YouTube channel, look at iSpot.tv, and maybe five minutes tops, and it’s gonna bring such a different perspective —

Kesha: Absolutely!

Anne: — to your read.

Kesha: Bigger than that, you’re gonna book! I know you guys aren’t out there auditioning for your health. If you are, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I audition to book, you know?

Anne: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Kesha: That’s a part of my process, Anne. I think it’s been working.

Anne: Who wants to audition, who wants to audition for their health? That’s right. I want to audition and book. Yeah, I love that. I love that. And I think that that five minutes extra that you spend is well, well worth it.

Kesha: It definitely works for me. I’ve been booking a lot more because, you know, I’m putting in the work to get the work.

Anne: So Kesha, let me ask you, are you, so are you auditioning, are you on any pay-to-plays? Or are you auditioning for your agents? Does it matter,  you’re doing the same research regardless?

Kesha: Yeah, definitely. I’ve kind of left the pay-to-play. Maybe we should talk about that one day. And again if it works for you, I’m definitely not discouraging. It just doesn’t work well for me. I really haven’t had —

Anne: I’m with you on that.

Kesha: I personally have not had a lot of return on investment with pay-to-plays. So I’m strictly auditioning for my agents, and I am auditioning a lot. A lot!

Anne: Now agents might be a whole other podcast. [laughs]

Kesha: Yeah, we definitely got to get into it.

Anne: You know, in regards to agents, they, I imagine they’re keeping you busy on a day to day basis. You’re auditioning every single day, right?

Kesha: Every single day, several times a day.

Anne: Now, is that like from one agent, or is that from multiple agents?

Kesha: It’s from several. Now I do not have major representation right now, but I am affiliated with a lot of smaller production houses, and that works well for me. And that’s, I guess that’s part of the reason why I don’t do well with the pay-to-plays. Because when I’m put in a bunch of —when I’m auditioning with 1000 other people — I mean again, people have booked successfully, but I don’t necessarily do well. I feel like I’m unique. And I, you know, before I submit a demo to an agency, I’ll look at their roster if it is available. And I’ll see if there’s anyone similar to, you know, how I sound. I do, I stand out in a crowd. So I like filling a void. So if I see anybody that’s kind of similar, kind of sort of, I won’t submit, you know?

Anne: Right.

Kesha: So being on the roster of the smaller boutique, a smaller production house has been working for me, and I’ve gotten some major stuff.

Anne: So in terms of auditions, do you have a specific time you spend on each audition? Would you say that you — and how many takes? That’s, that’s the question. Do you, do you submit multiple takes for your auditions?

Kesha: Not always, but as of recent [laughs] So [laughs] I um, so [laughs] There’s someone who uh, she, a friend of mine and a mentor, really good friend, she sent out an opportunity to like a, like four or five African-American voiceover talents. And they accidentally — I don’t know if they did it on purpose, they hit a reply-all when they sent to audition back to her. And so I thought that was kind of cool. I’m like “let me see what they’re doing, how they’re reading exactly.” It was like the biggest blessing. And I noticed — and these are some girls that are working big, big, big stuff out there. And I noticed that they would do two takes. So it really depends on the situation, but that’s something that I literally just started to do like within the last two months.

Anne: Were those two takes completely different?

Kesha: It was a different spin, a different spin.

Anne: A totally different spin. Different sound or different spin?

Kesha: Different spin and different sound. Because again I’m musical, so I’ll do something lower register, and then I’ll do something maybe just a little bit higher, a little bit more perky, it really depends, but only if the copy is like two or three lines, four at the most. I’m not reading like a 30-second spot twice.

Anne: Yeah, I agree.

Kesha: Because realistically speaking, agents don’t have time to listen, you know, to listen to that kind of stuff. So yeah.

Anne: I’m gonna say about 50-50, if I choose to do a second read. It depends on the context of the copy, whether I’ll do a second read or not. And yeah, I always try to make sure that the second read is completely different. If I can’t do that, then I’ll submit one.

Kesha: Right.

Anne: I agree that doing multiple takes — are you specifying in the beginning, if you’re slating in the beginning or not? Depends on your agent, I know. Are you specifying that there’s two takes? Do you say, you know, “Kesha, two takes,” or just doing the two takes?

Kesha: This is something I just embraced within the last month or two. Ummm I haven’t. Because you know why? I put my, myself in the shoes of an agent. So check this out. I need your patience on this. I —

Anne: You got it.

Kesha: I again, remember a couple of minutes ago, I told you how I like to stand out in the crowd — I used to do that when I was in radio a lot. This is putting myself in the shoes of a program director and/or agent. They’re busy. You know what I mean? And that slate, believe it or not, can make or break whether or not they’re gonna even listen to the rest, you know what I mean? I truly believe that. I was never told this, but I just knew, again going back to radio, that I’m not the only one submitting this air check to try to get this job. So I have to stand out. I would do different things, like I would take a cassette — God bless the cassettes. I would take a cassette, and I would put it in like a Chinese food takeout box just to get their attention. “I got lunch? No, actually it’s a demo. Take a listen to it.” Crazy things. I used to buy like huge pieces of bulk tag fluorescent green to say hire me. I used to use my daughter within the first 30 seconds, well, maybe 15 seconds of an air check to say “I think you found the perfect woman for this job, my mommy, introducing Kesha Monk.” You know, just doing different things. Again my job is to grasp their attention within the first —

Anne: Yep, absolutely.

Kesha: — three, four, seven seconds. Because you’re not the only one auditioning! So you want to make them listen to the entire audition. And agents know whether or not you are remotely a possibility for the gig. So you got to get them. So I don’t really waste a lot of time. “This is Kesha Monk. Take two.” They don’t have that kind of time. That’s my process, that’s my process.

Anne: I gotcha. Well, good stuff. I think we, I think we, hopefully we’ve inspired BOSSes out there. If you guys have any unique audition tips, we’d love to hear them. Guys, you can write us at anytime to info@voboss.com. Kesha, it’s been so wonderful talking to you —

Kesha: Do you know how much I love you?

Anne: — as always. [laughs]

Kesha: Do you really know how much I love?

Anne: I don’t — you know —

Kesha: This is cool.

Anne: Yeah. That love is right back at you, girl. Yeah. So BOSSes, big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and love on one another as BOSSes. Find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys have an amazing week, and we’ll see you next week. Bye!

Kesha: Mwah!

>> 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 voboss.com 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.