Rona Fletcher is the guest on the second episode of the La Pizarra podcast, I’d like to share a few highlights of the interview as it relates to actors and voice over artists. Rona is an award-winning dubbing actor and voice over talent from Mexico City, she has been a speaker at several conferences including Voice Over Atlanta, One Voice in London, The International Voice Conference in Mexico City and the Congreso Iberoamericano de la Voz, Viva Voz in Bogota, Colombia.
She is also the owner of Gravy for the Brain LATAM, a franchise of the British platform Gravy for the Brain, which promotes the education and training of voice over artists worldwide.
Rona ‘s dubbing credits include Lynette Scavo in Desperate Housewives, played by Felicity Hoffman , the narrator in Good Omens, played by Frances McDormand, Velma in Chicago, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Captain Amelia in Treasure Planet, played by Emma Thompson, among many others.
In addition to her dubbing work for film and television, Rona has also been a TV and Radio host and her voice over experience includes commercials and radio imaging, and promos for HBO Mundi.
Rona didn’t have a childhood dream of being a performer, her father was an American actor and voice over artist who worked in film and theatre and her mother was a painter and poet.
When she was very young, her father started taking her with him to the voice over training sessions he used to teach and she wasn’t particularly interested in the subject, and she reluctantly attended acting and voice training sessions.
Later she started hosting radio shows for Station Rock 101 in Mexico City, while completing her college degree in Communications with a minor in Marketing.
Rona was fascinated with production and behind the scenes work , being on camera was not in her plans, but one day she was asked to conduct an on camera interview for a morning show and suddenly all her acting and voice training kicked-in, she remained the host of that show for nineteen years.
Her transition into voice over happened naturally, part of her work in hosting the morning show was to talk about the sponsors, which ended up being very much like commercials and that led to several opportunities in voice over for radio and TV spots, it was then that she discovered she really enjoyed that genre and has continued working in it ever since.
Rona and I spoke about how the style of commercial voice over has transformed over the years, going from the big announcer voice to a more natural tone, often called conversational.
Brand names used to be highlighted in an almost exaggerated way and now a days they are mentioned in a much more subdued way, and sometimes they are even understated like in the case of the millennial read, which is a relaxed style that is almost reflective, like thoughts that are being shared in a natural voice.
Advertisers have the challenging task of finding creative ways of selling in a different way since people don’t want to be annoyed by publicity, instead they tend to pay attention and remember more friendly or funny commercials.
The job of a voice actor is to understand what the copywriter is trying to communicate, we turn the script into a believable message that needs to be told with the right set of emotions, while conveying the importance of the brand in a natural way, and that is where preparation comes in; it takes years of training in voice over and breathing techniques to be able to turn any script into a memorable message.
Rona found opportunities as a dubbing actor from peer recommendations, her voice and personality seemed to go very well with certain characters and her dubbing career started building from there.
She discovered that dubbing actors are expertly trained just like on camera and theater actors, and some of them bring their skills into commercial voice over, whereas others who choose to do only dubbing remain the unsung heroes of animated movies, dubbed films and TV episodic series, and their names are largely kept out of the end rolling credits.
The work that they do requires special concentration and an instant response, especially since they are not given the script beforehand and there is only time for one rehearsal. Working with a dubbing director requires special attention, they are the ones who have the big picture and know the whole story, they are in the studio all day with different actors for each scene and actors need to follow and trust the specifications for the character they will be playing, while matching the onscreen actor’s lip movements, everything is carried out at the quickest rhythm and there is no time for mistakes.
The physical aspect is also taken in consideration when casting the right voice actor for a role, the vocal range, tone, height and weight of the actor can work very well for specific characters. Often casting directors think of celebrities that have similar a physical structure of characters in animated films but other times they would rather trust dubbing actors with years of experience and have the right technique for the job. Film and TV actors use their whole body to express and communicate feelings and it can be challenging to restrict their movements when they’re in a dubbing session.
Rona is the Gravy for The Brain franchise owner of the Latin American branch, through which she provides mentoring sessions that are full of advice on every aspect of the voice over business. She is an avid supporter of the voice over community and promotes the unity of voice over artists of every genre as well as dubbing actors.
You can find out more about Rona here
The voice over education and training information is available here
Nicky Mondellini is the host of La PIzarra podcast, she is an actress and voice over talent with more than thirty years of experience, to request a quote and listen to her demos visit http://www.nickymondelini.com
You can listen to the whole interview in Spanish in Episode 2 of the La Pizarra podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play.