Special Guest: Eliza Jane Schneider

The woman of 1000 voices, dialectologist, celebrity coach & researcher, playwright, performer, and virtuoso fiddle player is now a VO Boss Guest! Eliza Jane Schneider sits down with Anne and Gabby to talk about her huge successes in the VO world, how she got her love of sound, her world travels and her proprietary looping method that teaches a dialect in minutes!

*Stick around after the outro for an extra special story on how Eliza became a dialectologist.*


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Dialect Masterclass has free training options!

  2. Don’t get discouraged. It took Eliza a LONG time to “make it”

  3. Her Advanced Character Acting Class is offered once every 10 years and 2018 is the year!

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Eliza’s Website
Dialect Database
Dialect Masterclass
Email for Dialect Masterclass


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.

Anne: Before we get started on today’s episode, we want to share some bossolutions. We have a fantastic new product for you guys called the BOSS Blast. Now the BOSS Blast allows us to send a marketing campaign specifically to a target market audience.

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Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my lovely cohost, BFF bosstie, bestie, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.

Gabby: Hi.

[both laugh]

Anne: You know, I am really excited about our very, very special guest today. She is known as the woman of 1000 voices, and here is my favorite word of the day. She is a dialectologist. [laughs] Celebrity coach and researcher.

Gabby: I’m in love.

Anne: She has recorded over 7000 authentic dialects. She is a playwright, a performer, and a virtuoso fiddle player, which I think is amazing. So welcome to our VO BOSS podcast Eliza Jane Schneider. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Gabby: Yay!

Anne: Yay!

Eliza: Oh, it is my pleasure, my pleasure. I’m coming to you from the KPFK radio studios in Los Angeles today.

Gabby: Nice.

Eliza: And I actually just ran into another violinist in the hallway, Shankar, L. Shankar, who was like my idol when I was 12 years old.

Gabby: Wow.

Eliza: He was Peter Gabriel’s violinist, and it was the first time my little Suzuki self had ever seen an electric violin being played.

Gabby: Oh wow.

Eliza: It was awesome. It took over the whole arena, this incredible swath of sound, so I just ran into him in the hallway. He gave me his number, oh my God. Aaah!

Anne: You know, I have seen you come onto the scene with a force in the last year or so, which has just been incredible, and I, I have just been kind of fangirling you for a while now. So tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and how you got started in this industry.

Eliza: Yeah, it’s one of those things. They say, an overnight sensation takes 10 years, and I think these days it’s more like 20. [laughs] You know, like —

Gabby: True.

Eliza: These people who are purported to have “made it.” It took a really, really, really, really, really long time, but I have loved every second of it. You know, my favorite thing is the researching. I have just — I went to Singapore last summer to present my voice matching looping method that I use to basically teach almost everything that I teach,

Dialects, accents, character voices. And Singapore was the final country in the world, the final English speaking country for me to go personally and record people in. Because I was on a mission when I was 20 to go and record all of the dialects of spoken English in the world. And I started with America. I went across America in an ambulance, just because it had AC outlets, and I found it under cargo vans in the L.A. — I kind of think she found me.

Gabby: [laughs]

Eliza: And I could plug in my recording gear, and I could plug in my wok and cook Thai food in Mississippi, which I envisioned they might not have, and I was correct about that.

Gabby: [laughs]

Eliza: And yeah, and I could hang my houseplants on the IV hooks, which was homey.

Gabby: [laughs]

Eliza: And I was a bit of an escape artist journey — a gypsy of old. I think it has something to do with being raised on a Chippewa reservation, and the Ojibwe tribe is a very much a nomadic people, and I was sort of raised by these elders in my daycare, Ojibwe woman while my mom was being an attorney. My mom was an attorney trying to protect the Ojibwe tribe from the federal government. [laughs]

Anne: oohhh.

Gabby: Wow.

Eliza: That worked.

Anne: That’s a story.

Eliza: But no, yeah, so, so last summer I went to Singapore. It was the last English-speaking country in the world where I still had yet to record dialects, and so now I have over 7000 interviews that my 35 to 40 some odd minions, who are students of mine, who are all on some kind of a program with me, they are also helping me upload all this research to the dialect database. So it is really fun for them too because it kind of saves them the gas money, you know. They get to go on these take –

Gabby: Wow.

Anne: To say the least.

Eliza: Journeys around the world.

Gabby: How, how –

Eliza: [laughs]

Gabby: How did that start? You have got to like take us back. Like how in the world did this become your life?

Eliza: Well, I mean, my dad was a drama teacher and a math teacher. So the sort of art and science of things is always somewhat integrated. I was a Suzuki violin kid from like age seven, and that’s an ear training method, and it’s about immersion. So I’ve merged dialects, accents, language, music, and it is all sounds to me. And it’s just a huge part of my identity. It’s how I, It’s how I interact with the world, and so um it’s just kind of who I am. It’s not really a choice.

[all laugh]

Eliza: But I, but I did know that when I went to — I went to Northwestern University’s national high school institute for, you know, all the egotistical, “I’m the best actress in the world” kids who got the lead in their high school play, you know. And I realized that I was just one of many. And they had a dialect elective, umm, and I realized there wasn’t any material available back then — it was the early 1990’s — for actors that wasn’t — well, there was David Allen Stern imitating people. It was him doing all the accents, and it was on cassette. This is pre-Internet, so I just made it my business to go and get, gather source material from people who had never set foot outside of their hometowns. And I’ve just had a fascination with sound from a very early age.

Anne: So I imagine, I imagine that that’s absolutely where you start, obviously with the dialects, is teaching in that vein of listening, I’m assuming, to, to these different dialects and trying to, to form a foundation there?

Eliza: Yeah, so it starts with immersion, and then I have this looping method that’s a sort of proprietary kind of thing that I’ve developed. And it’s the thing that all the voice teachers at the VASTA conference last summer in Singapore, the international voice teachers were all excited about it. And it was really fun for me because here’s this dialect coach or teacher from, you know, Australia, and I’m teaching her a Nigerian dialect. And it literally took me minutes to teach her what she would take six months to teach her students in an academic program. I went there expecting like two old white guys with long beards like drooling in a corner talking about something that happened in the great vowel shift like 200 years ago.