Jul 27, 2017
KAY BESS is a veteran voice-over actor with hundreds of commercial, film/TV narration and video game credits to her name. Kay says technology has dramatically changed the way VO artists work. And while there are more voice-over jobs than ever before, they’re a whole lot harder to get than when she first began. (45:27)
I’d like you to meet my new Bess friend, KAY BESS, a veteran voice-over actor with hundreds of commercial, film and TV narration, live show announcing, network promo and video game credits to her name.
Kay is the voice of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” seasons 1-4 and plays Persephone Brimstone in the video game "Agents of Mayhem" and is Lara Croft’s nemesis, Ana, in the video game “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” She’s also pitched everything from Apple, Motel 6 and Hidden Valley Ranch to Toyota, Jergen’s and Kaiser Permanente on the radio.
As Kay tells me in VOCE FORTE, technology has dramatically changed the way VO artists not only audition for jobs – which are harder and harder to come by these days – but the way in which they work when they do get a job. First, most everyone involved in voice-over now has a home studio, so it’s no longer necessary to live anywhere near a professional recording studio in order to read copy. Second, there’s VoiceBank.net:
KAY: “It’s like a clearinghouse for copy. Advertising agencies used to either contact a casting director or contact talent agencies directly with copy and agents would call in their clients and read in the agency’s booth. Now with the advent of VoiceBank.net, all that copy is available to talent from coast to coast, and in Canada and European countries, too. So where I used to be reading against maybe 25 or 30 people locally, now it can be thousands. Back in the heyday, I’d book probably 1 out of 10 auditions. I’m nowhere near that now, because there’s just so many more people auditioning.”
Having a home studio certainly makes recording copy convenient, but Kay says it’s also isolating. So, that’s why she now uses it to also record her own podcast, which she calls “The B-Hive.” All of Kay’s guests are women who work in the voice-over field in one way or another. And while there’s definitely plenty of VO shoptalk, the conversations she has with her guests invariably get deeply personal:
KAY: “Really the crux of the podcast for me is the question that I ask, What is your biggest obstacle? What has tripped you up to the point where you thought you weren’t going to be able to carry on? And all of a sudden, everything gets really real. And the podcast becomes not about voice-over, but about the human condition. That’s what I love about my podcast more than anything else.”
Exploring the human condition happens to also be what I like most about having a podcast. Like Kay, I really enjoy talking with people about the challenges in their lives and how they have or are working to overcome them. So when she revealed something extremely personal about her life, something that she’s never talked about publicly, not even on “The B-Hive,” I was definitely intrigued. And I think you will be, too.
Many thanks to Lee Rosevere for the music featured in this episode royalty free through Creative Commons licensing:
1. "Try Anything Once"
2. "Vaping in LA"