Most people who watch cartoons or listen to audio books wonder, sooner or later, about the people behind the voices. Local resident, Amanda Berry, can give you a pretty good idea. The Enterprise resident does just that, provides voices for both cartoons and books.
Berry, raised in San Antonio, Texas, attended New York University. After 13 years in NYC, she decided to visit her father, Lostine resident, Ron Polk, who had invited her to stay for a year. She stayed a lot longer.
About two years ago, Berry got into her voiceover artist career while doing theater in New York. "I auditioned, and they hired me, and now the show is on Netflix," Berry said. "It's called The Ollie and Moon show. It's for children."
Berry does many of the voices on the show, which is about two cats that travel all over the world, learning about different cultures. She enjoys watching the show as well as performing the voices.
When Berry moved to the Wallowa Valley, she started beefing up her recording studio and equipment. She's also auditioning for more roles. She nailed an audition for reading a book series and recently finished the work on the sixth book.
Berry said doing voiceovers is very similar to acting for the most part.
"The difference is, you're not really acting off anyone else," she said. "It's more like playing pretend than acting is, because with acting, you get props, you get costumes, you get another person to react off of. With this, it's just me in my studio, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, all off of things I imagine."
Preparation depends on the type of project. For a book, Berry reads the book before doing any voice recordings. She has to understand the characters and their relationships to one another as well as an idea of the whole arc of the book. Other factors for pre-reading include knowing how to pronounce difficult words and understanding their meaning as well as decoding what characters will sound like.
"If you don't know what you're talking about, it'll come through, no matter how convincing you think you sound, it'll be obvious," she said.
Berry considers every audition a form of practice in the sense she has to be able to read on the fly without making errors.
"It's all within a pretty narrow range that seems far away from me because everything's in a British accent," Berry said.
Berry received the British accent training while at NYU, but she sometimes runs across characters from other cultures that she has to prepare for. Depending on the project, Berry can use her own voice, for example, on a commercial project. She added that cartoons demand different, exaggerated voices that usually require the artist to play multiple characters, all with different voices. A novel can have as many as 30 different characters.
The artist also provided the voice for a young adult action-adventure novel that she really enjoyed because of their similarity to cartoons.
"Young adult novels can be very dramatic," she said. "A lot of crazy things can happen, and that can allow you to just play and have fun."
Auditioning for a reading is generally done on websites, of which there is a number. The main one is called, ACX, for Audiobook Creation Exchange. Authors post several pages from a work that will show if the applicant can do multiple characters and convey a story arc in a short time. The applicant makes a recording of their reading and submits it to the author. The process is similar for commercial and cartoon work.
Knowing what clients want is the most challenging part of the job for Berry. Sometimes she can be convinced that her choices in portraying a character are the right ones while the author may disagree.
"You have to come at your audition with the conviction that this is the right choice for this character, and hope that you can convince someone else that it is the right choice," she said.
For an interested person to hear Berry's voice on books, they can go on audible.com and search for "The Bennett Wardrobe," which is the name of the book series she is current narrating, or search for her name as a narrator.
Berry's favorite project remains the Ollie and Moon cartoon.
"Cartoons allow you to play," she said. "Anything that comes to mind -- sure, it's usable. You get to have fun."
Even though Berry still intends to pursue acting, she doesn't plan on letting her voiceover career stagnate.
"I would love to continue acting, but I like to think of where I am right now as the start of my career," she said. "I put a lot of time, energy and effort in it for a lot of promising early returns, and I can only really see it getting better."