On Tuesday May 5, 2020, Kaitlynn Wheeler interviewed Cleveland voice actor, Leilani Barrett via the Zoom application. Ms. Wheeler has some aspirations of being in the voice over industry, so she wanted to get some advice from Mr. Barrett, and get his perspective.
In his early life, Leilani always knew that he wanted to be a voice actor. He said that he had a Mr. Microphone toy, and that he loved hearing the announcer voices of various television commercials. Barret also mentioned that he loved watching cartoons and hearing all the wacky voices of each character. Once he got older, Barrett attended Cleveland School of the Arts, and his college years Ohio State University, to be trained in the art of acting. He participated in many productions such as Shakespeare plays, and different musicals. Well known voice actors such as Rob Paulson, Mel Blanc, and Kevin Michael Richardson, are Barrett’s heroes. They inspired him to make voice acting a career. From then on, Barrett has done many commercials, and hosted many television shows.
During the interview, Ms. Wheeler expressed that she is apprehensive about acting. Barret explained that acting is a big part of voice over, a good voice is not enough. He advised that she work on channeling different attitudes, because acting is all about attitude. Barrett also explained that there are different categories for voice acting. These categories are commercial, audio books, and animation, and they all require a great deal of practice to perfect. In order to practice, Barrett explained that reading out loud helps with acting because it allows for experimentation. A person could learn about different characters and their attitudes, and try to use different voices for them. Reading also helps with pitch, tone, and pronunciation.
Another topic that was discussed was location. Barrett said that if a person wants to do voice acting, especially for animation, he or she has to be in places such as Los Angeles, Texas, and even Vancouver, Canada. These locations are where the products are created, and the representation is more prevalent. Barrett said that some of the top tier agencies are located in Los Angeles. Being in the right location is how a person makes their way into the industry. This is how they make a name for themselves to becoming A-list actors.
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, Barrett explained that his work has not been impacted in a significant way. He mentioned that he has his own studio in his home where he makes demos and conduct auditions. The only job he has lost is being the host of the Dazzle Awards, an event held in Playhouse Square that praises musicals from different Cleveland high schools.
Lastly, Barrett shared some advice for aspiring voice over artists. He advised people who have never acted before to take a class. After taking many classes, a person should work on producing a demo so that he or she can showcase their best work. Demos are what Barrett calls an “audio handshake” to the producer and casting director. Finally, the last objective for an aspiring voice actor is networking. Networking is crucial to expanding the amount of roles of a voice actor. Once a person gains more experience, they will develop a process, therefore making them even closer to becoming a household name. Barrett said that as long as he has his voice, he is going to keep pushing forward.
Be sure to check out Leilani Barrett on the website http://www.leilanibarrett.com/ to get more information.