She’s RAP-tastic! And is celebrating a DECADE of voice acting this year! Laila Berzins and her personality explode all over the VO Boss podcast this week! Laila talks with Anne and Gabby about her (very) early start in singing, stand-up comedy and how her voiceover career propelled once she moved to LA. She even includes a special boss treat at the very end!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Vision Boards are magic!
Learn from Laila’s fearlessness
Meditation is an important part of her day
Keep an ear out for her upcoming SNL style podcast
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 B.O.S.S. Set yourself up with business owner’s 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 B.O.S.S.
Anne: Hey, guys! Before we get started on today’s episode, we want to share some B.O.S.S. solutions, and some of the ways you can have more B.O.S.S. in your life.
Gabby: Oh, come one! You can never have too much B.O.S.S. my little entrepre-nerds!
Anne: Entrepre-nerds! I love that. Did you think of that all by yourself?
Gabby: No. No. Not at all. I kind of borrowed that. So many, many moons ago I wrote a little publication by the name of How to Setup and Maintain a Better Voiceover Business.
Anne: Yes you did.
Gabby: This is long before, yep, long before we had combined our B.O.S.S. powers, Ms. Ganguzza, and this is a book that I’m super passionate about. I have been publishing it for many, many years. I update it very regularly, so I’m always making sure the content is current and relevant for you guys. And it is an absolute must. Not only for the business basics of voiceover and to help kind of get your B.O.S.S. butt in gear, especially if the business side of our world always has been a little bit of a strain for you, but also it’s gonna help you with your marketing and branding and helping you develop your own personal brand in voiceover.
Anne: Find out more by going to voboss.com and then click on that shop tab.
Gabby: Alright! Now, on to today’s episode.
Anne: Welcome, everybody, to today’s podcast I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my amazing B.O.S.S. bestie, Gabby Nistico! Hey Gabby.
Gabby: Hey. Hey. What’s up? Hey, girl, hey.
Laila: Hi. How ya doin’?
Anne: Gabby… Yeah, and so you are actually hearing our special guest today, who has been incredibly difficult to actually track down, because every time we ask her to come on the show she ends up booking a gig and let me tell you, she is a BOSS like no other. Laila Berzins. Welcome, Laila, to the show. Thanks so much for being her. Finally.
Laila: Yay! Thank you so much for having me! Whoo!
Anne: Oh gosh.
Gabby: I loved how you intro’d her by going, “She’s been incredibly difficult.”
Laila: I know! I’m just incredibly difficult–
Anne: Was that a Freudian Slip? Was that a–
Gabby: To book!
Laila: We’re looking for somebody that’s incredibly difficult, super high ego, you know, just kind of a diva. Walks in, wants her Evian water. Green M&Ms only.
Anne: You know, Laila, I’ve tracked you for a long time actually. I’ve known Laila for…since–
Laila: It’s been at least 5 years ago. I moved out here 5 years ago. At least 5 years ago.
Anne: At least! And I’ve seen you just propel, like, into the stratosphere. And you are just so darn talented. So I think if you could–
Laila: Thank you.
Anne:–just kinda tell us a little about your journey into voiceover and what got you going into that direction.
Laila: Sure! I moved out here about 5 years ago. It was something I had always wanted to do, but I didn’t have any way of getting out here initially. I was working in training pretty regularly with Roy Yokelson of Antland Productions, known in the industry as Uncle Roy.–
Anne: Uncle Roy!
Laila:–And was helping me with a lot of different things and coaching and demos and we worked one on one. And he with one of his director friends, he sent over my animation demo and then he sent–that director sent my demo over to Sara Sherman at Disney, who then invited me to come in March of 2013 for a general audition at Disney TV Animation. And so, when I found out I was going to be doing that I was like, “Well if I’m going to be out in LA for a week I’ve gotta milk that week for all that it’s worth.” So I scheduled a general audition at Nickelodeon. I went to events at Women in Animation. I had lunch with voice actors. Like the amazing Dave Fennoy. And I just basically made sure that every single day I was getting my face and my name out there as much as I could and made and hobnobbed with all the folks in town! You know? And that’s– I was like, it was like, “Laila’s California List!” You know, that kind of trip. All the things I wanted to do and it was really exciting and scary, but I remember, you know, I got to kind of show my stuff for Sara, and then And then she said, “You know, I love your range and what are your– you know, what are your goals?” And I said, “I would love, more than anything to move out here, but I just need to get a foot in the door. Not even a foot. Just a pinky toe and I will be out here with bells on.” So she sent my demos over to Heather at Atlas Talent, and that was on Monday of the week that I came in. By Wednesday I had and email from Heather saying, “I’d like to start you on a trail basis with Atlas.” I’ve– I kinda was like my entire life changed in that moment. I was like, “Wow. This is real. This is really happening.” So by May I was heading back to–to California and… yeah. And I started living in a house in Sherman Oaks. And I’ve had a lot of changes since then. I’m now with Vox Talent and I’ve been working, very grateful to be working regularly in cartoons and games as well as commercial projects and some corporate narrations. So every day is different. But I’m just loving it. And it’s nice to know this is my 10th year doing voiceover. And things didn’t really start to pick up, for those that are, you know, just getting going and wanting to know how long it can take, I feel like it takes 10 years to really master anything. But things didn’t start to really start amping up until the 9th year. And when I got with an agent that I felt was the best fit for me. And, yeah, that’s kinda how it–That’s kind of my story. This is Granny Laila talking to you from the future!
Gabby: You have–but in addition to all of that you have a background as a standup comic, correct?
Laila: I did standup for about a year.–
Laila:–I actually–a friend of mine was taking classes and I–she recommended that I– that I take these classes. My friend, Joanne Lichtenstein. And the idea of, you know, taking standup classes scared the bejesus out of me. I’m not gonna lie. But I think it’s because it scared me so much that I wanted to do it. And it couldn’t have come at a more–at a better time because I was going through all sorts of drama in my life: having to move, going through a breakup. Just all this chaos. And standup gave me the ability to take all the things I was dealing with and make it into something productive. Like, that’s what it is. It’s live therapy on stage. And then I had outlets for my parody songs and yeah, it was absolutely daunting. You know.
Anne: And then they made the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Laila: Yeah, I know!
Anne: Based on your story! I’m telling you. That’s exactly it. Right?
Gabby: You also, my dear, have a singing background, yes? Or is that just more like a–
– -hobby that you learned how to make money with?
Anne: Laila has an amazing voice.
Gabby: I know. I know. I’ve heard you sing. I’ve actually heard you at some of the conferences doing some Karaoke.
Laila: Karaoke. Karaoke!
Anne: Karaoke… Liala: Karaoke. Oh, I, yeah, I’ve been singing my– my joke is I’ve been singing since I came out of the womb. I just love singing. I was like, “Here I am! It’s a womb with a view. I got thing to do! I was born 5 weeks early ’cause I got ADD! And I don’t have time to wait to be boooorn.” So, yeah. I was like, “I don’t have time, I got things to do.” But yeah, no, I’ve been– I started in chorus. I was in professional choruses from elementary school on. Inter-elementary, the Connecticut Children’s Chorus. We got to sing in Carnegie Hall when I was 12, which was an incredible experience. Like, I got to be in real–like, I was always in chorus because it was such a great outlet and we sang very dorky songs.
Anne: Yes! I love chorus.
Laila: And learned–Oh and that’s where master your doodling, as well, when you’re in between– But yeah. I did. I was different choruses. And then in high school–
Anne: All county. All state.
Laila: A capella. No. A capella groups. And then in college I was in an a copella group called A Minor. Which originally stood for Asian minorities, because it was an all Asian group. And then we became one of the first co-ed a capella groups at UCONN, The University of Connecticut. And it was great because we get to sing at the Asian-American culture center for food, which is–I mean, how great is that?
Gabby: Right on.
Laila: And then I went in the Hartford Chorale, which was after I graduated college. The year I joined the Hartford Chorale, the Chorale had, years ago, been invited by the Chinese government to sing, and we were being invited back for the 2008 pre-Olympic cultural festival. So that was an incredible opportunity to sing in China. We got to sing mandarin songs, Beethoven’s ninth. And getting to sing traditional, like, traditional mandarin lullaby, called Delhi, that these– you’d see elderly women crying when we would sing it. Everywhere we would go we’d sing it and people would join in, and that was a really incredible experience. And then since then I have a bunch of unfinished original songs that I’m trying to finish. And I have a bunch of parody songs, some of which are finished and some of which are not.
Anne: So, Laila, tell us a little bit about what makes up a day for you? A day in the life of Laila BOSS
Laila: Laila BOSS. Welcome to Laila BOSS, I’m gonna eat breakfast like a BOSS.
Anne: There you go.
Laila: Every morning I wake up and say, “I am the BOSS and I shall do the BOSSY things. And so it was written.” [Chanting] [Everyone laughing]
Gabby: Can you just follow me around for a day and do, like, everything? Just–
Anne: I know, just follow us and sing, please.
Gabby: Yeah. Yeah.
Laila: Oh, I would love that. Yeah. No, I used to kinda spread myself too thin ’cause when I first got out here there was just so many things I wanted to do. Now, I’ve been basically hyper focusing. So my typical day, now, is I have 11 agents. So, that keeps me very busy with auditions throughout the day. Then I’ll obviously have jobs that are either from my home studio or that I’ll go into the studio for. And between that I try to 1 to 2 hours a day, if I’m lucky, work on my email marketing. And I schedule–I usually end up doing it in the evening, and scheduling my emails to go out the next morning between 10 and 12. So it’s a whole bunch of juggling. But that’s the primary thing. And then in the evening I go to networking events. I go to th–I’m a theater-holic, so I’m always going to theater shows. I go to standup from time to time. And I’m now–the one other main side activity is that I’m working on creating a kind of Saturday Night Live style radio show podcast with a live orchestra, and that’s just in baby stages. We’re actually having a meeting to go over some of the–we had a–
Anne: Did you say with an orchestra?
Laila: Yes, with an orchestra.
Anne: That’s a really cool idea.
Gabby: Well, she just one upped the hell out of our podcast. My God. We don’t have orchestra. Jeez.
Anne: I can play some iTunes in the background here and…
Gabby: I’ll get my tambourine and…
Anne: And we can sing?
Gabby: Anybody got a triangle?!
Anne: A triangle.
Laila: A cowbell!
Gabby: More cowbell!
Anne: More cowbell.
Laila: Cowbell solo!
Anne: Laila, you know, one of the things that I notic