Learning to make money – by talking

CAVE SPRING – Twenty-one aspiring actors from all over the Roanoke Valley gathered at the Brambleton Center on November third to learn how to make money from their voices.

People from all walks of life: a high school student, an engineer, a college professor, the unemployed, and even an interpreter for the deaf, came to find out if they have what it takes to become professional voice actors.

New York resident John Gallogly taught the class, entitled “Getting Paid to Talk,” sponsored by Roanoke County Parks and Recreation. Gallogly is the Senior Creative Director of Voice Coaches, a company which trains voice actors.

Gallogly has been performing voice overs for over 16 years, and he cannot imagine working in any other industry.

Cave Spring resident Stu Israel records a commercial during the "Getting Paid To Talk" class at the Brambleton Center on November 3. -Photo by Kristin Adams
Cave Spring resident Stu Israel records a commercial during the "Getting Paid To Talk" class at the Brambleton Center on November 3. -Photo by Kristin Adams

Gallogly himself is even the voice of a doll named Beer Man which sings “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Gallogly spent more than two hours teaching the students the ins and outs of the voice over business. To begin with, Gallogly discussed the different types of opportunities in the voice over industry. While many people think of commercials when they think of voice overs, commercials make up only 10 percent of the industry. The other 90 percent comes from opportunities, such as television shows and movies, as well as audio books, documentaries, telephone prompts, and even toys.

Gallogly also told those taking the class that voice over careers are virtually unaffected by the economy.

Gallogly also discussed the negatives of the job.

“I do a really good job of talking people out of this,” Gallogly said.

First of all, the competition is a negative aspect of the job. Second, it often takes months to get a first job. It is essential to keep trying, however, according to Gallogly.

“The day you give up is the day before you get your first job,” Gallogly said.

Gallogly gave the students an example. One hopeful voice actor took over nine months to find his first job, but he is now making six figures and is voicing national commercials.

After his lecture, Gallogly had everyone in the class record short commercial clips. Anyone who wanted feedback about their clip was called the next morning by his co-workers in New York, who listened to the clips on the computer.

After the class, many people spoke about why they wanted to attend, and about their reactions.

“I thought it’d be nice to find out what it’s like to talk and [have] people listen,” Roanoke College English professor Jeanne Fishwick said.

Fishwick does not plan to make a career change, but simply wanted to find out what voice acting was about.

“I thought it was really neat that they were offering it,” Fishwick said.

Lord Botetourt High School student, Ben Willis, wants to be an actor, and he thought the class might help him learn to use his voice more effectively.

“It kind of opened my eyes to the differences in the two,” Willis said about stage acting and voice acting.

Some of those in attendance, however, did see themselves in voice acting in the future.

Vinton resident Jeannie LaRose would like to pursue a career in the voice acting field.

“I’ll at least give it a try,” LaRose said.

Cave Spring resident Stu Israel, meanwhile, was also inspired to attempt a career in voice overs.

“Oh, it’s a lot of fun. It makes me want to do it,” Israel said. “If they think I’ve got some talent, then yeah, [I’ll try it.]”

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