Lending a voice from behind the scenes: how Kareem Taylor discovered his calling as a voiceover actor.

Author:Connley, Courtney
Position:THE WORK I DO - Column

NAME Kareem Taylor JOB Voiceover Actor EDUCATION Bachelor's, Mass Media Arts, Clark Atlanta University AGE 27 WITH AN ANNUAL SALARY RANGE THAT SPANS from $22,076 to $403,345 depending on experience, company affiliation, and the media space in which your voice is used, voiceover acting can be an uncommon career choice. However, for 27-year-old Kareem Taylor, early success in the industry led to an unexpected full-time career. As a student at Clark Atlanta University, Taylor had dreams of becoming a film director. But as an intern at the production company Rainforest Films, Taylor was approached with an opportunity that quickly changed the trajectory of his career.

After serving as the voice for the office's voicemail system, he was discovered by a CNN producer who asked him to come do voiceover tryouts. For a couple of times a week, Taylor would go back and forth from Clark Atlanta's campus to CNN headquarters to meet with producers and learn more about the industry. After shopping around his demo tape to various talent agencies for a year, Taylor eventually signed with Don Buchwald & Associates in New York and booked his first commercial in 2010.

Now, Taylor has worked with several big name brands, including UFC, Taco Bell, McDonald's, and most notably, CNN's Black in America series.

Outside of an agent, are there any other tools or resources people need to become a successful voiceover actor?

I think personal branding plays a big part. When I sent my demo to agencies, I would introduce myself in a way that made it seem like I was doing big things in Atlanta. I said I was involved on campus, I was the voice of CAU, and now I'm ready for the big leagues. So I told that story in the e-mail, and when I arrived in New York they were like, 'Yo, there is this kid in Atlanta doing really great things.' For them to see that I was competent and hustling before they even found me was good. When I actually looked at the roster list of talent that [Don Buchwald] had, it's just like being on a record label where some people just sit on the shelf. It's not because they aren't talented, but they don't have the work ethic.

You've been able to create a brand outside of voiceover acting that includes a blog and even your new book, Get Your Life (Kareem Taylor; $16.95).

When I graduated I moved to New York and I was there for about two and half years, and then I moved to Los Angeles last year. But while I was in New York, I started to realize something. I...

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