Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/5/2018 (460 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the three most dangerous jobs in Canada are logger, fisheries worker and airplane pilot. You can now add "voice actor" to the list of daredevils.
Christy Fabbri is the founder of She Speaks Studios, a home-based production company that has worked with such starry clients as Marriott, Panasonic and Xerox. A few months ago, Fabbri, a married mother of three, was recording a voice-over for a children’s app, a portion of which required her to mimic an eight-year-old girl.
Figuring her best approach would be to "sound nasally," she plugged her nose with her thumb and index finger. Except while doing so, she held her nostrils so tightly she ended up pushing her nose ring through her skin and into her nasal cavity, where it became lodged.
"I actually spent the night in the ER, and almost had to have surgery to get the ring removed," she says with a chuckle. "The hazards of voice-overs: who knew?"
Fabbri caught the acting bug when she was a student at Springs Christian Academy. Following Grade 12, she took a two-year hairstyling course at Scientific Marvel Beauty School, balancing her studies with a job as a puppeteer for a kids’ TV show.
In 2008, she was cutting a customer’s hair when the person in her chair asked if she had ever considered going into radio, as the station she worked for was looking for on-air talent.
Although she had zero experience in radio, she arranged for an interview and to her surprise, landed the position.
It was during her tenure at CHVN, where she worked as an announcer from 2007 to 2014, that she began learning the ins and outs of the voice-over industry. One of her tasks was to record spots for companies advertising on the Christian music radio station, and because that often required her to use her acting chops, it quickly became one of her favourite aspects of the job.
In 2010, while she was on maternity leave with her and her husband Matt’s first child, she began doing voice-over work on a freelance basis, for everything from commercials to corporate videos to answering services.
In 2012, a few months after she gave birth to their second daughter, she was involved in a serious car accident that kept her off work for a full year.
While she was recuperating, she thought to herself how fleeting life was, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if she could simply stay home with her children, instead of having to rush off to work first thing every morning for the next however many years.
"It was just before Christmas 2014 when I told Matt, ‘You know what? I think it’s time.’ By then I’d also had two miscarriages, which really helped put everything in perspective, so I gave my notice at the radio station and a month later, was sitting in my home office saying, ‘OK, here we go.’"
Originally, Fabbri figured if she earned in the neighbourhood of $600 a month doing voice work, she and her husband would be able to make ends meet. Imagine how pleased she was, then, when she successfully auditioned for a 15-second Walmart blurb that played in movie theatres all over the continent and paid so much she was able to treat her entire family to a Disneyworld vacation.
"It depends who hires you," she says, further explaining her wage scale. "If the commercial, video or whatever is only going to be seen or heard locally, you obviously don’t make as much. But if it’s an international client like Snickers or Starbucks, for sure, those jobs pay pretty decent."
A typical day for Fabbri goes something like this: after dropping her kids off at school, she returns home, where she spends 30 minutes tidying the house. At around 10 a.m., she heads downstairs to her sound-proof studio, a 200-square-foot facility that was one of the first things she and her husband had built after they purchased their home in Sage Creek last year. (Before their move, Fabbri rented private studio space or simply instructed her family to be "super-duper quiet," when it was time to record.)
"If I have a job I need to finish, I’ll work on that and if I don’t, I’ll do auditions, sometimes as many as 20 in a day," says Fabbri, who is associated with Voices.com, an online marketplace with offices in New York City and London, Ont., that works with more than 300,000 voice actors in 139 countries.
"Even though I may be quite busy at any given moment, I always feel I should be laying seeds for the future. Seriously, it’s not uncommon for me to be run off my feet one month and have zilch to do, the next."
Fabbri, who cites being able to work in pyjamas as one of the main perks of the job, has done voice work for companies based as far away as France and Italy, and from almost every state and province.
Accents are one of her specialties, but she sometimes has to remind herself Manitobans have a particular manner of speaking, too, when she’s working for clients south of the border.
Besides the aforementioned nose-ring incident, Fabbri says there are a few other perils of the job she needs to be cognizant of. First, because she is always afraid of straining her vocal cords, she rarely raises her voice, even when her three kids’ idea of bedtime doesn’t exactly jibe with hers. Second, because a sore throat or cough can have an adverse effect on her bank account, she does everything she can to avoid people who are sneezing and wheezing.
"To be honest, though, there was one time I did a job when I had the sniffles and it might have been the best I ever sounded," she says, equating it to the Friends episode when Phoebe recovers from a cold, only to immediately try to catch it again after being told how sexy her voice sounded when she was under the weather.
"The only problem is when you eventually do feel better, and a week or two later your client wants you to re-record a line, you don’t sound the same, anymore. There was one time I actually had to try and stay sick, just so I could keep that raspy sound for a couple more days."
Finally, while Fabbri rarely hears her finished product once it’s completed, a couple months ago her husband had a surprise when a salesman peddling home-security systems knocked on their front door, asking for a moment of his time.
"The guy started playing a video on his laptop and seconds after it started, Matt said, ‘Hey, that’s my wife’s voice.’
"The salesman must have been impressed because he said, "Really? Is she here? Can I get a picture with her?’"
Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.