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What a voice actor does in a day’s work

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Welcome to The Work Day, a series that chronicles a single day in the professional lives of diverse women – from gallerists to stay-at-home parents to CEOs. In this episode, we hear from Bailey Varness, a voice actor who logged a day job in June.

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Location: Orange County, California.

Previous jobs: I have worked in the entertainment industry for over 15 years. I started acting in New York – in theater productions and doing voice overs as well. I then moved to Los Angeles, constantly conducting auditions for jobs, this time on camera. I did odd jobs here and there during lean times. Around 2015, I got a home studio for recording so I could do voiceover work at home as well as in larger studios.

Which led me to my current position: I always dreamed of being a voice actor, so I slowly transitioned to doing voice acting exclusively from home once I got my home studio. I now do all kinds of voice acting, from commercials to audiobooks to corporate explainer videos and even animation. I’ve worked for thousands of companies, including big brands like Tylenol, Fanta, Moderna, and NASA. One of my favorite things about my job is the 20 foot walk from my bedroom to my home office. And starting to work for myself gave me time to found Voice Work Academy, my online course program for anyone who wants to get into voice acting for themselves. I love both acting and teaching!

How I spend most of my day: A typical day involves recording commercials or narrations for businesses of all sizes. I also spend a lot of time auditioning for new brands to voice, as well as animated characters for big name players like Disney, Nickelodeon, and DreamWorks. I also have days where I train with acting coaches and casting directors and do voice-over workshops. Just like professional athletes, good actors continue to train with coaches to stay on top of their game.

I incorporate vocal rest into my day by taking a walk or catching up on my accounting or marketing. When you’re a very small business like mine, you wear many hats all the time. I also make sure to make time for my fellow cats and my amazing husband Noah, usually while watching our latest obsession on TV.

7:20 a.m.: I wake up and read some news articles to start feeling alive for the day. I end up brushing my teeth, drinking water and putting on my traditional voice actor uniform: a t-shirt and sweatpants. It’s not only comfortable, but also doesn’t make noise during recording like some fabrics can, so it’s a win-win! I then head a few meters from my room to my check-in booth to start my work day.

8am: After a quick vocal warm-up, I start recording my first big projects of the day. First, I have some commercials for a big company. It’s a live-led session via Zoom, so they tell me exactly what they want.

I then move on to vocals for a piece for Cornell University. They are advertising the 100th anniversary of their Cornell Nolan school of hotel administration. It’s fun because I can use my beautiful, grand voice for this copy. They emailed me instructions, so I just save and edit it myself, then send the final version to my manager to give to them.

9:17 a.m.: I take my first vocal break of the day and walk around my apartment complex. After working out for at least an hour, I find it really helps keep my voice feeling fresh throughout the day if I take the time to make sure I’m not talking. A nice walk allows me to rest, clear my head and get some exercise.

10 a.m.: I have some auditions I need to do now. First I’m working on a 30-second political ad. Political articles are obviously very common during election seasons, so I do a lot of that right now.

Then I go to an animation audition. I always save my animation auditions for the end of a block of work when I can, because sometimes playing a character can have more vocal tension if they’re really emotional. Let’s face it, cartoon characters are usually very emotional, that’s what makes them fun!

11 a.m.: I take my lunch break and enjoy much-needed vocal rest. Because I’m in California, I get a lot of emails on my lunch break, especially from overseas. I have a lot of international clients who want an “American-accented” version of their scripts, so I usually work a bit over lunch to set up work for the afternoon and beyond. I’m also watching part of a Hallmark movie that’s about to go down a bit.

12 p.m.: Back to the recording booth! I got a few jobs from a regular client in Pakistan who had me do voiceovers for a few brands he currently works with. I like working with this client because he trusts me to lead these projects on his own and rarely needs a lot of changes. You must appreciate the easier jobs when you can get them!

1:05 p.m.: I take this time to rest my voice while working on my YouTube channel, Voice Work Academy. Today I’m writing a new video that will explain how audiobook storytelling has changed for 2022. I’m also sending some edits to my designer for my Voice Work Academy website to update my new course that I recently finished.

2:08 p.m.: I eat a snack and do a quick workout because I’ve been sitting for a while.

3 p.m.: Back in the recording booth, I’m working on some new work that’s coming. This is an explanatory video for doctors on how to use a new type of needle for endoscopies. With my type of voice, I get a lot of medical voiceovers, so it’s good that I learned to pronounce medical jargon quite easily. This one is more difficult because they want me to sync my voice to an already made video. These take much longer to edit.

4:03 p.m.: I’m starting to squint with the editing, so I work on my company’s accounts a bit. I track certain payments; as a freelancer i have many different places where my payments come from.

5 p.m.: I help my husband Noah cook dinner. We eat and talk about the busy days we both had, and I still haven’t finished!

6 p.m.: I watched the cartoon “Big City Greens” three times as research at the request of my agent. She makes me watch and listen to anime shows daily to grow as a performer. As far as work and research goes, it’s pretty fun!

6:34 p.m.: I briefly hop into the booth because a client needs a quick review on a phrase from a project. I do it, edit it and send it to them right away.

7 p.m.: I take another walk but bring Noah this time. We like to walk and talk in the fresh air after a long day. We chat a bit by the pool before heading into the evening. Once back, we catch up with one of the many TV series we’ve been obsessed with. Tonight is “Hacks” on HBO.

9 p.m.: We go to bed and I watch some nostalgic TV to neutralize my brain. I choose “The Newsroom”, followed by an old episode of “American Dad”, until I feel myself falling asleep. I turn everything off and can’t wait to sleep and whatever crazy recordings tomorrow!

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