I have two people to thank. Herschel Bernardi and Skip Hinnant. I did my first professional play at McCarter Theater in Princeton when I was 13 years old! In the cast was Herschel Bernardi. He was the voice of Charlie the Tuna and the Jolly Green Giant.
We would sit backstage and do voices together and he told me then that one day I would make a living as a voice actor! Many years later after he passed away… I got to play the voice of the little Green sprout in the Green Giant commercials.
Herschel really encouraged and gave me a joy with creating voices that stays with me today. I hated the soft sound of my voice as a kid and kids made fun of me at school.
Skip Hinnant was someone I knew from watching The Electric Company on TV in the ’70s. His voice and timbre were not the booming voice you heard in many commercials but a soft and joyful sound. I remember him in the ‘love my carpet’ commercials saying, ‘that old fogy stogy..” and singing, “you’re gonna love… love my carpet!” He sounded like me! and I imitated him till I could do a ringer impression of his sound. That taught me to find my own sound and learn the truth of who I was and not to fight it (something I instill in all my students today)!
Later I freelanced with my first agency and to my astonishment , Skip was also there! They called me the ‘young version of Skip’. I was flattered. Skip and I have become friends as an adult and I only hope that I have half the heart and joy of my readings as he does!
Oh, and I used to imitate the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher on the playground for other kids. They gave me their desserts from lunch if I would do it. So Twinkies included… I have been a working voice actor since a kid!
Starting today (Friday, March 4), Paul will be teaching the five-week class, Character and Animation V/O Technique. Click here to learn more.
Reading this blog too late and have missed Paul’s class? Click on the Classes tab at the top of this page to see what other New York voice over classes are available.