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LIVE from VOA – Special Guest: Juana Plata

LIVE from VOA! Is it getting hot in here, or is it just us? Our second and last live podcast guest is bringing some Spanish spice! Juana Plata joins Anne and Gabby live at the VO Atlanta 2018 conference! Hailing originally from Columbia, bilingual Juana dishes about her father, the “Dick Clark” of Columbian VO, her early years in America, her Emmy nomination, and how she built her 6 figure voiceover business.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Bilingual talent should embrace the evolution of “Spanglish”

  2. Advertise through LinkedIn!

  3. Invest in your career

  4. Save for the “Thin Cow” moments

  5. Look to South America for clients

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++


VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss, a VO BOSS. Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success with your host Anne Ganguzza along with some of the strongest voices in our industry.

Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS.

Gabby: Hey, guys, it’s Anne and Gabby. So you know, we get asked an awful lot how people can work with the bosses and get more boss in their life. And so we decided we should team up even more to give you guys what you want. So we’ve created a brand-new product that we want to tell you a little bit about.

Anne: Yeah, so excited. It is called Boss Brilliance. First of all, if you want to be brilliant, you need Boss Brilliance. This is a team consult with both myself and Gabby where we will activate our Wonder Twin powers just for you.

Gabby: I love that. I want to, I want to touch rings. I want to touch rings!

Anne: And what I love about it is that it is the two of us teamed up. Two bosses are better than one.

Gabby: That’s right.

Anne: And with our combined experience, we are ready to help you guys take it to the next level whether you need help with sales, branding, marketing, infrastructure, whatever it is. Sign up for a Boss Brilliance consult with us today.

Gabby: If you want a good boss kick in the pants, this is it, guys. This is your chance, Boss Brilliance. You can find it on our website at

Anne: And now, on to today’s episode. Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host Anne Ganguzza along with my wonderful cohost Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.

Gabby: Hey, Anne. Today we have a super special episode. This was recorded live at VO Atlanta 2018, and we had an awesome time at the conference, but we also had the opportunity to interview some amazing conference attendees and voiceover bosses while we were there. This is part two of the series, and someone who’s very near and dear to my heart, and I’m happy for us to bring to all of you –

Anne: It’s the one and only Juana Plata.

Gabby: Juana!

Anne: Thank you.

Gabby: Yay!!!

Anne: Yay!

Juana: First of all, apologies. I was waiting for you downstairs.

[Anne and Gabby laugh]

Anne: I thought maybe you got lost, and I was like, I was like, I was trying to text you, but I was here. [laughter]

Juana: Please accept my apologies. It got lost in translation. Can I hold that one out?

Anne: Yes, you can pull that one out.

Juana: Sorry. Me no ingles.

Anne: [laughter]

Juana: Me no ingles, but thank you so much. I’m so honored.

Gabby: We got lost in the bathroom earlier, I think.

Anne: We are honored to have you.

Juana: I am lucky to be with the ladies of VO and the bosses.

Anne: We all I think we are all bosses, and umm.

Gabby: It’s true.

Anne: And we certainly thought that much of you to ask you —

Juana: Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

Anne: — here today so you can help all of us to be more of a boss.

Juana: Well, first you have to roll your R’s.

Anne: I cannot do that.

Juana: So you can be like, Anne Ganguuuuzzza.

Gabby: I love that!

Anne: Oh, Gabrielle. Think about the R in Gabrielle.

Juana: Gabrrrielle.

Gabby and Anne: Oooooh.

Anne: Excellent. I like that.

Juana: I am here on weekends too.

Anne: This show is hot.

Gabby: Oh my God.

Anne: This show is hot.

Juana: Gabrrrrielle and Anne Ganguzzzza.

Anne: That is going in our intro.

Gabby: [laughter]

Juana: Trrre.

[Gabby and Anne laugh]

Juana: OK, is this getting a little bit out of hand here?

Gabby: I don’t think so.

Anne: I’m a mother.

[Gabby and Anne laugh]

Anne: Not trucker. Mother. Not trucker. So for those of –

Gabby: Oh boy.

Anne: — those of our listeners or watchers who are streaming live that don’t know you, tell us a little bit about your journey, your voiceover journey.

Juana: My voiceover journey. So I come from a voiceover family. My father started this business 51 years ago in Colombia, South America. And I say South America because it’s not South Carolina. And — just to make sure. So just to make sure. With an O, Colombia, not Columbia. And I, he, he was umm… I would like to say not the — he was the Dick Clark of Colombia. He was in the movie industry, television, radio. He starred in networks. He was Mr. Rock back in the 1970’s. I am pretty sure he also –

Gabby: Also for listeners’ and viewers’ sake, we say “was” only because he is semiretired now. He is still with us.

Juana: Yes, yes, he is still with us.

Gabby: He is alive and well. He is fabulous.

Juana: Yeah, he actually arrived from Colombia two days ago, and he is desperately looking forward to coming to see everybody —

Gabby: Yay!

Juana: — at VO Atlanta, so hopefully he will be here tonight.

Anne: Nice.

Juana: And so, as a, as a good old rebel, I refused to follow my father’s steps.

Anne: There you go.

Juana: Because I didn’t want to be like him. Hello!

Gabby: Of course, of course.

Juana: And actually at a point I thought about changing my last name, and then I migrated to the United States. After he was very famous in Colombia, he moved to here to the States, and he started at CNN Radio Noticias, which is the radio part of CNN Español. And so I was starting college, and he said, “would you like to come over to the United” — and I was already here at the airport. I’m like, “I’m here. I love the United States, and I’m here.” So when I moved here, I didn’t want to be, and the reason why I left Colombia is because I didn’t want to be the daughter of. I didn’t want people to think that I was taking advantage of my father’s reputation or connections or anything like that. Little did I know that 30 years later, I was going to do it. But anyway, that’s a different story.

Anne: [laughter]

Juana: And so, I started my career here in the United States as a probation officer. Yes, I had a gun.

Gabby: Wow.

Juana: And uh packed heat, and I am very familiar with the judicial system. After that I — but it’s funny the way that things work. I started as a probation officer, and I met police officers and judges and a lot of people in the government. And then after that, somebody said, Univision – Univision – is coming to Atlanta. And I said, “oh, you know what? I would love to be on TV. You know like I could lose a couple pounds, and I would be on TV, and I could do that.” So I applied for the job, and I got it. I had braces. I was 22 years old, um and I became a producer and a host and a news anchor with zero training because I didn’t want to be like my father.

Gabby: Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.

Juana: So I started with Univision, and I was very lucky to be nominated as an Emmy producer — uh nominated for the Emmy as a producer and as a host. And uhh after my stunt in TV, I really wanted to eat, because I love eating.

Anne: [laughter]

Juana: And I could only do so much, so many diets. That I was like, “you know what? I don’t care about how I look anymore. I really want to be happy.”

Gabby: [laughter]

Juana: So I left television, and I went back to college to study business administration because that was like — it was haunting me forever. It is like, “I don’t know. You know, can I pull this out? Let’s see. You know, maybe I will.”

Gabby: Wow.

Juana: I started business, and little did I know that I was getting ready to start my voiceover career.

Anne: mm-hmm.

Juana: And so one day my father is like, “are you finally going to listen to me and get into voiceover?” And I said, “my voice is horrible. I don’t like it. It’s squeaky, and it’s so eehhhh, and I don’t like it.” And he’s like, “let’s do a demo and let the clients decide what you want to do.” And I said, OK. So we sent our first demo, and my very first client was all the e-learning campaign for Tiffany and Company for Latin America.

Anne: [laughter]

Juana: And I said, well, if you are going to pay with diamonds, I actually –

Gabby: Wow.

Anne: I’m always saying that Tiffany’s, right, as a brand –

Juana: Tiffany and Company was my very first –

Anne: Wow.

Juana: E-learning.

Gabby: Wow.

Juana: And I was like, ok, I really enjoy learning, so I will start doing this. I started doing more narrations. That was four years ago.

Gabby: Wow.

Juana: But I sat down and I said, OK. I have a degree in business, and I need to treat this as a business. So what am I going to do? I have no money to invest. I am just starting. I didn’t know absolutely anybody. I don’t know how to get an agent. I don’t know how to get SAG AFTRA. What is SAG AFTRA? You know, all these weird things, and then you have this coach and then there’s the other coach, and then you know the difference between the e-learning and medical narration and then commercial and then business. Like oh my God, this is so overwhelming. I just sent out, and I did my LinkedIn profile. And I’m like, you know, I’m going to start contacting people through LinkedIn. From day one, which was um August 7, 2013, to August 7, 2014, I had at least 1000 connections. I had increased from zero to… almost $50,000 a year on year one.

Gabby: Wow.

Juana: I still have lots of clients that I contacted through LinkedIn that are local to the Atlanta area and some international that are giving me business continuously. And I am glad to say, not to boast, but just to let people know that it is possible — last year I broke the six-figure. And I – and the only advertising that I have done is through LinkedIn.

Gabby: Wow.

Juana: So my marketing efforts are LinkedIn. Now I’m stepping into the Juana Plata 2.0. So I’m changing a little bit.

Anne: 2.0, there you go.

Juana: 2.0. One of the things that I think is extremely important is investing in your career.

Anne: Yes.

Juana: Yes, we all start with a little logo that we design on a napkin. Awesome. But once you can go to the next step, it — unless you want to stay there, and that’s perfectly fine. If that’s where you feel comfortable, that’s good, but if you want to advancing your career, invest. Invest in your image. Invest in your log, in your branding, in your marketing. Learning, that is just so important. And, and do a lot of PR.

Gabby: Well, it, it’s — a little bit of the conversation that you and I were having before where I was saying, I find it fascinating because you’re very unique. You are a second generation voice actor.

Juana: Yes.

Gabby: But, but it’s not like you — if your dad, you know, other businesses, you know, if your father’s an accountant, he hands you his CPA firm. He retires, and you go forward with his clientele. That is not at all what you’ve had to do. You’ve had to build this up for yourself.

Anne: Yourself.

Gabby: Just from the bottom, the same way we all did.

Anne: mm-hmm.

Gabby: And make your own name.

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: And somewhere in the back it was like, oh yeah and by the way, this is my dad.

Anne: Yes.


Anne: Despite all of that, yeah.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: You had, I think you had the, I guess, the background knowledge and knowing that you needed to do the marketing.

Juana: Yes.

Anne: To do that. And so you excelled at that aspect of it, which is, I think, I would — you intimated that that was attributed to your success in a short amount of time.

Juana: Yes, I do, I have to say I feel very proud of my dad. And now I understand all the hardships that he had to go through when we — when I, me and my siblings were growing up. You know, it was like, we were talking about the different waves of money coming in and not. And it’s, you know, this past February was not pretty, not pretty at all. March is starting and starting really good. So it is like, you have to be a boss, financially savvy to learn how to save for the — as we call it in Spanish, the thin cow moments. You have the fat cows, and then that’s like, you eat a lot. And then you have the really thin ones. You are like, OK. I can’t kill you because we know we’re both going to die.

Gabby: I like that.

Anne: You have to just plan for them.

Juana: Yes. But I do have to say my dad gave me very good advice. And he said, if you want to live from your ego, go ahead. But if you want to make a career, be smart about it. And Tre was talking about the different boxes. You know, you have e-learning and you have — and I see a lot of colleagues are like killing themselves for going after a commercial. And it is like, everybody auditions. And the way that I see it is, again because I love to eat, here I am having my big old steak.

Gabby: [laughter]

Juana: While I see 75 people fighting for a chicken wing.

Gabby: Right.

Juana: Yeah.

Gabby: Right.

Anne: mm-hmm.

Juana: So it is up to you.

Anne: Good analogy.

Juana: If you want to live out of your reputation and your ego, that’s valid for you, that’s awesome. But if you want to live a good life, and if you want to wake up at 10:00 and not have, you know, like a lot of uhh how do you call this little thing –

Gabby: Bags.

Juana: Bags and skin and crow’s feet because you want to, you know, have a good night’s sleep and enjoy and travel, and you know you can go to the different markets that are looking for what you have.

Anne: Yes. Yes.

Juana: And one of the things that I have noticed lately is um Spanglish.

Anne: mm.

Juana: I refused for the longest time to acknowledge that there was a market for Spanglish because I felt it was disrespectful for English and Spanish.

Gabby: It’s a bastardization in, and it’s in the worst way.

Juana: And being first gen — immigrant, not generation. My daughter is first generation — I am trying to get her also into the voiceover wagons. There will be three of us.

Gabby: Third generation!

Juana: There will be three of us.

So hopefully, but the Spanglish is actually —

[Gabby and Anne laugh]

Gabby: Very exciting. [laughter]

Anne: Gabby is very excited.

Juana: The Spanglish is actually catching up a lot, and it’s not that we’re going to take over the world, you know. The Hispanics are taking over America.

Gabby: That’s – no.

Anne: No.

Gabby: That’s silly, come on.

Juana: The way that I see it is Spanish is for the first generation that’s immigrating, and the not either manage English the way it is supposed to be there. They don’t speak it as fluently. They don’t understand it because, you know, it is sort of a tough. You are a little older, and it’s hard to understand. And then you have the first generations that — sorry — yeah. The immigrants, the first generations that don’t want to let go of their roots but already are assimilating the English market.

Gabby: OK.

Juana: And then you have the Spanglish which is my household. My daughter was born here. I speak Spanish. My husband speaks Spanish. But in order not to kill each other, we both argue in English. And my daughter manages better English than Spanish. And so quand estamos hablemos en casa, we go back and forth into una palabra en la otra and that’s called Spanglish. And uh can I say brands? Or can I, can I say products?

Gabby: Yeah, sure.

Anne: Yeah.

Juana: I’m a voiceover for Pandora, and recently my first um Spanglish commercial was for Crest 3-D White. “Sonrisas blancas y dientes hermosos. Use Crest 3-D White.” And it’s like, you know.

Gabby: Oh my gosh, wow.

Juana: This is something that is kind of interesting. So, so that is another, that’s another –

Gabby: So it’s now the evolution. You and I originally came from the mindframe that it was uhh literally a, a negative on the cultural and the heritage of the language.

Juana: Yes.

Gabby: Now it’s more, oh, OK, we are evolving into something new.

Juana: Absolutely.

Anne: That’s fascinating.

Juana: One last thing because I know we are running a little bit late on time, but for my English-speaking colleagues, it doesn’t end in Europe. There are a lot of companies in South America that want to break into the American market.

Gabby: Yeah.

Juana: So they look for voices, American or British voices, native, that wanted it for their corporate videos or presentation videos that sometimes they even have — let’s say Johnson & Johnson in Colombia wants to show Big Papa Johnson & Johnson here in the United States what they are doing, showing their efforts, so they will hire someone that speaks — this native English speaker to, to their commercials, videos, anything and everything that is required in English. So look there. There is some good money. Brazil has a lot of money. Yes.

[Anne and Gabby laugh]

Juana: We’ll talk, Trrrre.

Anne: [laughter] Juana, thank you so much for joining us.

Juana: Thank you, thank you.

Anne: It has been an honor for us.

Juana: My apologies.

Anne: Thank you for sharing. Oh, no, not at all.

Juana: Me understood completely wrrrong.

Gabby: [laughter]

Anne: You compacted all this beautiful wisdom and generosity in a short amount of time, so thank you for that.

Juana: Thank you so much. Forever grateful.

Gabby: Mucho, mucho.

Juana: Muchas gracias.

Anne: How can people get in touch with you, find more about you?

Juana: or through my website, That is Plata.

Gabby: Thank you. Thank you.

Anne: Thank you. Well, Gabby, it’s been an amazing podcast.

Gabby: Live!

Anne: Live podcast, for our first live podcast.

Gabby: With our amazing guests.

Anne: Thanks. I love you, girl.

Gabby: I love you too. Ok, now we are gonna go cry. We are gonna have –

Anne: Thanks, everybody. I would like to really thank everybody for supporting us and listening to us.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: And I love, I love working with this girl, and um I’m telling you, we’re gonna keep it going and keep it up –

Gabby: Heck yeah.

Anne: For as long as we can.

Gabby: ‘Til they take the microphones away.

Anne: That’s right.

Gabby: Right. [laughter]

Anne: Thanks, guys.

Gabby: Thanks, everybody.

Anne: We’ll see you next Tuesday.

Gabby: Yeah.

VO: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.