Nickelodeon Universe - "Monster Under the Bed"

If the monsters under *my* bed were this awesome when I was a kid, I likely would have been able to hand in my 'Fraidy Cat card.  This here is a monster you want to go do fun stuff with.  I join in at the end as the announcer.  

Recorded in the brand new phoenix-risen Babble-On Recording Studios.  Babble-On is back, and it's gorgeous!  An absolute delight to be in André and Carol's excellent, talented company again.

Green Giant - "Veggies for Real Life"

There's something really special about hearing of the momentary panic an agency experiences when they realize they've cast the same person for two very, very different campaigns and feared it was a mistake - "is that the same person?!  Can she really be that polished and then that casual?!"  No mistake, it was indeed me in both auditions - last week for Président Cheese, this week for Green Giant vegetables.   Bonus points for me, because the Jolly Green Giant was my first childhood crush.  What?  He's handsome!  

Here are two versions of the Green Giant spot I recorded - one for mom, one for dad - I'm the final announcer for both:

Cedar Point - The Roller Coaster Capital of the World

Did you know that Cedar Point, Ohio is "The Roller Coaster Capital of the World?"  I didn't either, until today.  I've seen video, and what they have looks...amazing.  And terrifying.  Spent an hour this afternoon in my home studio recording for a campaign they'l likely entice people with later in the year.  The final spot I'm voicing is beautifully filmed, so will happily share once it's share-able!

ABC's (beeeeeeeeeeeep)

I spent the day on set for ABC's (full non-disclosure agreement in effect, so I cannot share any details about the primetime TV show at present) - filming for episode 1 of season 2.  I'll certainly post the episode when it airs this winter, but until then, enjoy the gorgeous makeup airbrushing machine of Crist Ballas, mastermind of Metamorphosis Make-Up Arts.  It's always an honor to be in his chair.

J.R. Watkins - "Body Scrub" & "Hand Cream"

Commercial shoot, Day One:
Arrive at beautiful home just off of Loring Park on the edge of downtown Minneapolis; catch a glimpse of the stunningly illustrated storyboards;  spend the rest of the day on set in pajamas, in and out of a bed.  

Commercial shoot, Day Two: 
Arrive at warehouse in the Uptown/Lyndale/Lake area to pick up a few shots for an early episode.  Get a tour of the basement which is being converted to a speakeasy with all the old trappings one would expect in a speakeasy - false walls, secret doors, hidden rooms).  Then travel to a second beautiful home in South Minneapolis; spend rest of the day in winter clothes only made comfortable by the modern miracle of air-conditioning set to a very low temperature (ahhhhh, summer); feed tiny bits of beef jerky to a very, very happy dog.

This shoot was, hands-down, one of the most delightful film sets I've ever worked on.  Since the shoot was M.O.S. ("Motor-only sync/shot" - meaning no sound was being recorded) the set was lively and fun and the directors and production team actually applauded after great takes.  Such a supportive, engaging, entertaining environment.  It was, truly, an honor to be a part of this team.  I can't wait to see what the final spots look like!  They'll be running on Instagram around Halloween, and I'll be sure to post links then.

Gordman's Clothing - "Back to School"

Today we spent many, many hours filming on a very, very hot school bus.  I now know why school busses made me sick as a dog when I was a child, and why they have the exact same effect on me now: they have no ventilation system other than the windows.  And the exhaust pours in the back windows if they're open.  So, basically, if it's hot out and you're not moving, they're instruments of torture.  And if they are moving, well - let's be real: I'm going to get sick anyway because I am a delicate flower who wilts in moving vehicles.   Happy back to school savings!!!  All griping aside, the spot turned out to be pretty cute.  I'm one of the many Bigfoot sightings in the back (soooo blurry).  All in a day's work...

Loudmouth Collective - "Pretty Girls Make Graves"

Know what's sometimes better than spending four weeks of your summer in a dark rehearsal room memorizing lines?  Helping out friends* spending four weeks of their summer in a dark rehearsal room memorizing lines by riding around Northeast Minneapolis on a NiceRide  for a Smiths-inspired video promoting their upcoming Fringe show "Pretty Girls Make Graves."  Hot damn, Loudmouth Collective, I love you.  

*As you may recall, I had the honor of performing in Loudmouth Collective's inaugural show as "Kayleen" to Adam Whisner's "Doug" in Rajiv Joseph's stunning Gruesome Playground Injuries. Hands-down best theatrical experience of my life.

U.S. Bank - Health Savings and Flexible Spending Accounts

I regularly count my lucky stars that I get to split my time between Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul - two wildly different locations with a surprising amount of overlap in the kinds of voiceover work available.  Minneapolis/St. Paul is dear to me, however, for its capacity to foster friendships with colleagues; the time spent working here is often spent with people I have come to know personally - something not often possible in L.A.   These particular voiceover spots are special to me because I was hired on by the same producer who hired me for one of my very first voice-over gigs eight years ago.  It's inspired a fair amount of reflection of the entire lifetime spent in these past eight years, and for that I am grateful.

McDonald's - "Rain"

So there's the awesome Bell Sound which reminds me of some of my favorite recording houses in Minneapolis, and then there's their fancy and hidden Bell Sound *West*, which has a magic all its own.   I had the pleasure of spending some time in the West this afternoon, recording a sweet little spot for McDonald's, to be aired in the Portland and Seattle areas:

Did I mention there's a motorcycle in the lobby?  A stunningly gorgeous motorcycle in the lobby?  Yeah.  They fancy.

Yes, you do have a beautiful voice, and...

I was recently approached by the editors of Minnesota Playlist, an excellent Minneapolis/St. Paul-centric online performing arts publication akin to Backstage Magazine, to write an article about working in voiceovers.  I get asked about this on a fairly regular basis and since I thought it'd be nice to have all the info consolidated and easily available to the public, I happily agreed.  

The article with public comments can be found here; reprinted here in its entirety:

Yes, you do have a beautiful voice and. . .

Learn 10 tips for surviving in the voiceover trade.
by Leigha Horton, May 3, 2015

“I’ve been told I have a good voice, so…I was thinking I should just do commercials or something.”

“I know how to sound like a baby crying and it totally trips my friends out…I should totally do cartoons.”

“I’ve been acting forever and am looking for ways to make more money at it…there’s no reason I shouldn’t just be doing voiceovers, too.”

One of those three phrases is nearly inevitable whenever someone discovers I’m a voiceover actor. And my initial response to all of these is “yes!” Yes, you do have a good voice! Yes, you do have a wicked-good baby cry! Yes, you should be doing voiceovers, actor friend!

And my second response is - it’s going to be a long, hard road if you don’t have all your tools in place. It might even be a long, hard road if you do - voiceover is a highly competitive field and takes skill, perseverance, and luck to get established. It’s unlikely that anyone will just sidle up to a microphone and instantly be the next Don LaFontaine. But hot damn is it ever fun, and you should most certainly give it a whirl if you’re in to the not-easy-but-hugely-rewarding kind of whirling.

So where does one even begin? Lucky for you, I’m a maker of lists (and lists seem to be popular and oh-so-clickable these days - whee!). Without further ado, here’s How to Break Into Voiceover Acting and Actually be Good at It:

1. Embrace Your Acting Experience

From commercials to promos to industrials to audiobooks to animation, you need to be able to quickly and professionally dissect the living bejeezus out of a script, bring a point of view, provide a character arc, take direction well, and have the stamina to perform it at the top of your game with freshness and vitality from the first take all the way to the last – whether that takes 15 minutes or four hours. There have been plenty of times I’ve been brought in and handed a script I’ve never seen before. Sure, they’ll give us a couple of minutes to look it over, but then we’re expected to dive right in. This is the time when you will pledge your firstborn to the soul of Thespis in exchange for being able to access your past training and expertise.

2. Hone Your Improv Superpowers

It’s your job to bring the options. To give the clients 15 or 30 or 75 different takes on a single line of copy if, god forbid, that is what they need to be satisfied. In the animation world, you may be brought in for a videogame and not be told your character until you arrive. Surprise! Turns out you need to play four different characters, one of which is a robot yak that speaks only gibberish and is powered by a battery-sized nuclear reactor that contains human consciousness. Yep, it happens. And it’s your job to bring it. But your job isn’t done there – nope – at the end of the session when you’re tired and perhaps feeling a wee bit peckish, you’re going to need to make 75 different dying sounds for Robot Yak based on the 75 different Yak-death scenarios in the videogame. It’s enforced playtime. Have fun, dammit.

Nearly every casting director I’ve met thus far has talked about how celebrities crumble in the voiceover booth. They fall apart. Why? Because they can’t think of a way to say the line any other way than the seven they’ve already tried. Because they’re used to their face carrying their performance (sorry celeb, can’t hear your wink right there – gonna have to find a way to vocalize that). Because they’re reliant on having another human being to play off of (sadly, it’s often just you. Alone. So very, very alone). Improvisational prowess will save you.

3. Check your Ego at the Door

You’ve got to be able to take direction and work to give the client exactly what they want. Think you nailed it on the first take? The third? Too bad the client didn’t! Doesn’t matter if you think you’re done - gotta keep going, my friend. There ain’t no time for divas. Do the work. Bring your all and be fun to work with. Be kind. Be innovative with your performance to help the clients hear more options while still being respectful of the words on the page.

Also, there are times when you’re either going to be in the room with the creative team (or they’re just in your headphones because they’re out of state) and you’ll be getting crickets in response to your performance. You find yourself spiraling into self-doubt – they hated me…oh god, they hated me and I’m going to be fired. But hey, guess what? They’re actually just making script changes because now that they hear it out loud, it sounds weird. Or they’re checking with the Legal Department to find out if you can actually say “natural” or if you have to say “real,” instead. Or, I kid you not, they’re arguing over what toppings they want on their catered-in pizza lunch. This happens, and none of this has anything to do with you. Patience, Grasshopper.

4. Be The Drifter

No one should be able to tell where you’re from based on your accent (see: Hollywood A-listers who you’d never know are Australian based on their film work). This goes for any defined regional accent, but this article is for MinnesotaPlaylist, so I’m talking to you, Minnesotans: remember when Fargo came out and everyone got huffy about how “we don’t sound like that!” – well, guess what? – to everyone else in the nation, you kinda do. Sorry. And if you’re at all musically inclined or adept at other accents, it’s likely worse because you have a good ear and you instinctually pick it up. That’s entirely normal and to be expected, but it’s not going to fly in the land of voiceovers. Regional accents limit potential, because voiceover work is often on the national scale. We must hear our accents and work to make them neutral.

5. Do Your Homework

If you want to work in this business, you don’t get to skip the commercials. Those people scored the jobs you want. What kind of sound are they bringing to the table? Listen and learn, and then work to incorporate those approaches in your reads. And hey, you know those awful low-budget commercials that sound like they were voiced by Janice in Accounting or the “President and CEO” (I’m looking at you, Shane Company) - that’s what someone without all their tools sounds like.

6. Practice with What You’ve Got

There’s no need to rush out and plunk down thousands of dollars for equipment before you’re actually working in your new field. I got by for many years recording auditions using the voice memos app that comes standard on the iPhone, then transferring them to my computer and editing them in Audacity (free, open-source audio editing software with similar functionality as ProTools), before sending them off to my agents. Hell, I booked an ADR gig (voice-matching and replacing all of the lead actress’ naughty language in a big-budget Hollywood feature film so they could show it on airplanes) by auditioning into my iPhone under a blanket fort wedged into the corner of my sofa.

I now have a little recording booth that is far more comfortable and spacious and less temporary, with far superior equipment that is worth every penny, but I’ve also been doing this for seven years. Work with what you’ve got now so that you can ultimately determine what you want and need in the long haul.

7. Learn the Lexicon

Did I lose you in that last section with “ADR?” What are “tics” and “plosives?” What’s the difference between a commercial and a promo? What’s a scratch track? Copy? Specs? Patching? This whole section goes hand-in-hand with “Do Your Homework.” One source I highly recommend is Voiceovers: Everything You Need to Know About How to Make Money With Your Voice by Terri Apple. There are also loads of treasures online – from Pat Fraley’s instructional videos to the interviews found on VO Buzz Weekly. And, of course, talk to people you know who are consistently working on either side of the microphone in the business.

8. Be Wary about Pro Lessons

Oh, man, are there ever loads of people who are happy to take your money. Just as there are “agencies” that offer “classes” but are actually just Headshot Farms, there are “coaches” who offer “classes” but are actually just Demo Farms. They will promise to teach you everything you need to know and you’ll walk out with a “fully produced” voiceover demo. Sounds like a swell deal, right? - a one-stop shop to your new career in voiceover! Guh. No. I’ve heard a few of these demos, and I’ve heard stories about how the actors were permitted a ridiculously limited number of takes. I’m sorry, no. No, no, no, no, no. You do not pay for a demo and then only get three takes to get it right. That is absurd.

Considering taking a class? Rock on. Research it first. Is the instructor actively working in the field? Great! Where can you hear a sample of their work? If their recently-released yoga CD sounds like it’s narrated by a Sunday Night Football commentator, then perhaps this might not be the right class for you. Know anyone who took the class? Ask them about their experience. As actors, our time and money can be scarce commodities…so be smart about where and how you choose to invest them.

9. Audition, Audition, Audition, ad infinitum

It might be hard to convince your agent to give you voiceover auditions when you’re so new to the field. Without a demo to prove your ability, it might be downright impossible. I started my voiceover career at a talent guild, wherein I was afforded the luxury of auditioning for everything that came into our office. And audition I did. Many, many auditions every week for a solid year. And I didn’t book a thing. Not one single thing. But I kept at it, and voiceover work is now my bread and butter.

So until your agent starts giving you those auditions, there are various voiceover clearinghouse sites like where you can audition online for usually small, non-union gigs. Which is awesome if you don’t mind doing some company’s entire telephony system for $50. It’s a good place to get your hands on scripts, and it might just provide you with the insight to decide whether or not this is the path for you.

10. Get Your Demo(s)

Trying to get considered for voiceover work without a voiceover demo is like trying to get a modeling job without anyone knowing what you look like. Your voiceover demo holds the same calling-card gravitas as your headshot does for stage and on-camera work. It’s a necessity. Which means you’ll ultimately need to invest in a good one, produced by someone who does sound engineering for a living. You’ll benefit greatly from the expertise of someone presently working in the business, who knows what the current audio trends are, and who can guide you on the specific criteria your demo needs to meet. You’re ultimately going to want different demos for your different areas of expertise (commercial/promo/animation/narrative, etc.), so it’ll be important to prioritize which demos are completed first. Demos could easily require their own ten-point how-to list, so be sure to do plenty of research before diving in.

When I first started poking the voiceover bear eight years ago, there were plenty of people who kindly encouraged me to knock it off. They wanted to save me the hassle – to make sure I knew voiceover was too competitive, too skills-intensive, too time-consuming, and too expensive. When I couldn’t be deterred, they sent me on my way with a hearty slap on the back and a sarcastic “good luck.” Being the insubordinate I am, I took that as a challenge. And what a challenge it has been - a wildly fun, competitive, fulfilling, skills-intensive, inspiring challenge.

While voiceover is one of those jobs that everyone thinks they can do – everyone – and there are plenty of people at the ready to tell you, "you can’t,” I’ve found that voiceover is in actuality a craft like any other. To make a successful career of it, you’ll need the natural inclination, skill, talent, tools, research, practice, and perseverance. So yes, you do have a good voice! I can’t wait to see what skills, beyond that wicked-good baby cry, you’ll be bringing to the table.


About the author

Leigha Horton is a professional voice/screen/stage actor splitting her time between Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul. From Disney to Land O'Lakes butter and everything in between, Leigha's voice can regularly be heard across the nation on television and radio. She's been seen on stage at the Children's Theater Company and with Walking Shadow and Loudmouth Collective, and has toured with site-specific artist residencies. When not performing, she's dabbling in photography and going on grand adventures with her dog.


Walt Disney World Resort - "Characters"

Today I eked a little bit closer to the Mouse House, and as evidenced by the ridiculously gleeful smile I am pretty thrilled.  A morning VO session patched in at Tono Studios  to Another Country for a delightful Walt Disney World Resort commercial - produced by Disney's Yellow Shoes and McGarry Bowen in Chicago called "Characters" wherein I voice the mom.  I can't wait to hear/see the final spot, and will happily share it if I can.

Always Radiant - "Inquisitive Girl"

Oh, the magic of Pixel Farm in Minneapolis.  They took my voice out of a studio in L.A. (the always-delightful Patches Digital) and tossed it right into the body of a green (yes, literally), inquisitive 14-year-old girl.  

Did I ever think I would portray a young teenager learning about the realities of her menstrual cycle for the first time?  Nope; can't say that I did.  Am I happy to have done it?  Yep; can happily say that I am.

The Home Studio

After a few weeks of finessing and finagling, the new home studio is officially up and running.   I still swing into the agency nearly daily for auditions, but from time to time the occasional audition from home is necessary, and I'm greatly enjoying the process now that I don't have to build a pillow fort each time.  Don't get me wrong, I've booked some sweet gigs off auditions recorded while wedged into the corner of the sofa, tucked under a thick wool blanket, but this - to just walk right in, sit down comfortably, and walk right out without mussing my hair in the process - is pretty swanky.   

The home studio also enables me to add audiobook narration to my existing voiceover endeavors - as this particular genre of the field tends to rely heavily upon actors working from home.  Proper audiobook demos are forthcoming, but in the interim, one can hear samples at ACX

Blink and You'll Miss it...

To be honest, I'm not a big TV person.  While I have a TV, it often sits there, unwatched, for weeks at a stretch.  Shameful, really, given my profession.  (Shhhhhh, don't tell.)  So imagine my delight when I had the TV on to catch an episode of ABC's ever-so-darling Once Upon a Time, and during a commercial break heard one of my very own!   

So I figured I'd better hop on over here and make sure to share the spot.  Here you go - quick and dirty clocking in at a whopping 5 seconds:

Recorded late summer in Minneapolis for Campbell Mithun over at Pixel Farm's righteous new digs.  Good times, good times.


Promos are a Different Beast than Commercials, and so... needs a separate, specialized demo to prove one can do them.  Behold, the newest addition to my demo lineup:

Special thanks to Jeff Howell at World Wide Wadio for his excellent in-studio direction to finesse my reads and his expertise in pulling this together; and to Cody Irizarry at William Morris Endeavor for his insightful feedback in the final shaping of the piece.

And, as always, to listen to the commercial and narrative demos, as well as television and radio work samples, hop on over to the VOICEOVER page.

5 Reasons Donating to THEATER PEOPLE will Melt Your Face Off (in the Good Way)

Remember Theater People - the 10-episode comedy web series I was in last year as Patti Page? Poor, poor Patti Page:


Well, Theater People is making a second season, which I couldn't be more excited about, but they urgently need your help to fund it within the next six days, or it's not gonna happen.  And so I offer you the following:

5 Reasons Donating to Theater People will Melt Your Face Off 
(in the Good Way)

1. I'll record your voicemail for you in the very same voice I used for Alastair Crowley's Estate Secretary (Theater People Season 1, Episode 4).  Nothing better than surprising your callers with the quintessentially British polite disdain they likely deserve.

2. We know you secretly paid to see The Other Woman in the theaters this summer (how else is it possible that movie made $200M at the box office?!).  And for what?  $18 and a twinge of remorse?  Plus an additional, let's say, $10 for concessions?  So, $28 for a comedy that cost $40 Million to make, and which was an outright assault on your good sense and taste.  See the problem here?  Why not offset that terrible $28 decision by supporting not only brilliant writing that respects your intelligence but also great acting that you can watch in your pajamas whenever you dang-well-please, with a bonus of as much real butter on your popcorn as you have in your fridge?  A measly $28 to create good art at a project budget of $15k is a steal.  A STEAL. 

3. You'll be directly responsible for giving a great many wildly talented stage actors from Minneapolis/St. Paul stages the opportunity to further develop their on-camera repertoires.  It's been said that stage actors can't do film and vice-versa, but in my experience, it's not only entirely possible but also hugely advisable given a director who knows how to work with actors. Matthew G. Anderson, director ofTheater People, is so hugely adept at evoking solid performances from his actors that it's a joy to watch.  And you deserve to witness the awesome results.

4. It's good for the local economy.  By donating to this campaign, you're putting money directly into the hands of writers, directors, production managers, production assistants, filmmakers, directors of photography, sound designers, web developers, small businesses for locations, and performers.  What's not to love about that? 

5. More me?  It's very possible you'll see the return of Patti Page in Season Two.  If you like me, this will be fun for you.  If you don't like me, this is more opportunity to put your Judgey McJudgington pants on and par-TAY, which...also sounds like it could be fun for you.


Let's do this thing, shall we?  THERE ARE ONLY SIX DAYS LEFT.  SIX!  And Theater People is very, VERY close to hitting their $15k goal.  But if they don't make it in time, they get nothing.  Zip, zero, zilch, nada.  Those thousands of dollars already pledged?  Gone.  *Poof*  So go.  Go now.  Give 'em what you've got.  And then tell me you did so I can prepare my voicemail recording muscles: