Lisa Biggs hits the nail on the head after a morning coffee! “I mean, you have a gift. You have a dream… Anything you want to do, you can do! You got to make it happen.” While the sun temporarily let us down, Lisa lit up the room. It was great to finally meet her in person having previously produced a couple of videos together over the internet. I suspect there are many amazing things to come!!!
In conversation with Lisa Biggs
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Transcript of conversation with Lisa Biggs
Andy: So here we are in sunny Santa Monica, and I’m meeting for breakfast with Lisa Biggs.
Andy: Morning Lisa. Great to see you.
Lisa: Good morning! And good to see you here in not so sunny California…
Andy: Well, it’ll be sunny later on, won’t it? Lisa, great that you could meet with us this morning.
Andy: … and it’s been fantastic…
Lisa: Thanks for paying for my breakfast!
Andy: Yeah! I’m very generous. What can I do? We’ve known each other online for a little while, and we’ve done some production together via the internet, and that’s been great. But it’s cool to meet you in person.
Lisa: It’s so good to meet you, too.
Andy: Maybe we ought to explain, we’re in a café, and we’ve just had breakfast, so apologies for any background noise… But unlike some voiceover podcasts, this is a real café…
Lisa: Trish, he didn’t mean that!
Andy: No, we love the other one! Anyway…! Lisa, you’ve got a very special voice.
Lisa: Really? Do you think I could do voiceover?
Andy: Yeah… we can work on it. I know a good agent in Atlanta… I could pass you on to. Well, going to be starting there. So, you’ve got some quite exciting things…
Andy: …coming up. But could you explain to us just a little bit about what type – because it may not be obvious – what type of voiceover work you do, because you do some very special stuff, and what did you do before you did voiceover? What’s your journey into all of this?
Lisa: Well, now let’s see… I’ve been doing this, I’ve been dooing voiceover, for thirteen years. I started when I was 19. I’d no idea growing up what a voiceover was, or that it even existed. It was probably, I guess, in my sophomore year college that someone approached me and said – you know, because I’ve had this voice ever since middle school… that was when it kind of started… when most people’s voices change, mine didn’t. It’s actually a birth defect.
Lisa: Yeah. So then… I was just teased all through high school, and middle school, and even into college, and I was kind of shy, you know, and never pursued acting which is what I really wanted to do. But I used to see my voice as a hindrance or as an opportunity to be embarrassed.
Andy: OK. So it was a bad thing for you?
Lisa: Yeah, it was. Growing up it was difficult…
Andy: Kids can be cruel…
Lisa: kids can be cruel. I was bulled a lot through high school, but I developed a good sense of humour. You know, you kind of have to! But… I was in college when I had a professor tell me that there were so many things that I wouldn’t be able to do because of my voice, and that I would probably have to seek some kind of speech therapy, or perhaps surgery even. It’s kind of extreme, and so I just thought, “Well that’s silly! This is who I am! You know! This is how I was made. And so a couple of weeks later a buddy of mine approached me and said, “Hey, I hear of this acting school in New York, and they have a voiceover class.” I’d never taken a voiceover class. And he gave me this brochure and I showed my parents, and a month later I was living in New York City, all by myself. I lived in New York for almost a year, and studied acting. And I kind of got that skill set under my belt. I still study acting all the time – improv, acting classes – because I think it’s really important, because first and foremost, especially if you pursue animation and character work, you’ve got to… you have to be an actor, a strong actor. And so… yeah… So I lived in New York, and then came back and finished college, and then for my college graduation present, my mum and dad paid for my very first voiceover demo. Produced at Jay Howard Studios, in Charlotte, North Carolina. My engineer for my first demo was Ross Wissbaum, and he’s now at the Ground Crew Studios in Charlotte, North Carolina, but Ross was my first engineer, and he helped me produce an animation and commercial demo. And I had them on the same track – I didn’t know any better – and I was tow or three weeks out of college, having graduated, and I sent my demo out to a bunch of agencies in LA. Had no idea what the heck I was doing.
Lisa: And landed a huge agent – one of the biggest agents in the country – picked me up, as green as I could be, they picked me up and gave me a chance.
Andy: And of course after that the jobs just kept pouring in, and you were inundated with work…
Lisa: Yes! Yes, I became a millionaire over night… No.
Andy: What happened?
Lisa: I… You know I was at that agency for a long time, and I was in LA for a long time, and I was working, and booking pretty regularly, but not you know enough to make a living, especially in a town like Los Angeles. I ended up moving back to the east coast after several years in LA, in this market, and kind of gave up on voiceover, thinking “What’s the point? If you’re not in New York, not in LA… How could you possibly make a living?” And so I kind of gave it up, and decided maybe I’d go to grad school, and started pursuing some other things. I worked for an organisation for a while, called Young Life. Worked with high school kids. So for a while my only voiceover work was doing silly voices for like 15 and 16 year olds at summer camp! But one day I was working at a gym, at an upscale gym in Downtown Charlotte – to pay for the grad school – and this producer shows up, and he owns a studio in Charlotte. His name is John Cosby. He’s really wonderful. He owns the Ground Crew in Charlotte, North Carolina, and he goes “I’m a member of the gym”, and I’m sitting there folding towels – or whatever you do at the front desk, and it had been a couple of years since I’d really pursued a voiceover… it wasn’t even on the back burner. I just kind of gave it up, because I figured if you’re not in a major market, and having this voice, like there’s no work for me…
Lisa: And John walks up to me after his work out – he’s about to leave – and he goes, “I don’t know why you’re not doing voiceover”. He said, “Why are you wasting that?” you know, my talent, I guess… and I was like, “Well, I… I’ve got other stuff going on… You know… Life is bigger than just ‘voiceover'”. And he left, and I thought about that, and I said, “Why am I not doing voiceover? Like… That is me! I mean, you have a gft. You have a dream… Anything you want to do, you can do! You got to make t happen. And so shortly thereafter, I kind of started to get my decks back, and just teamed up with some amazing people thathelped me get my… round two… in ths industry. Yeah, kind of a kick in the butt, so I could get going, and that’s been several years. And I’m really fortunate that I’ve been able to… I’m back in LA… now… until Saturday, actually.
Andy: Because you’ve got another turn coming up.
Lisa: I’ve got another chapter to start in my voiceover adventure, but… as I’ve been offered the opportunity to be an agent.
Andy: We love her! Yes!
Lisa: So, we’ll see what happens with that. So obviously first and foremost I’m a voice actor. That’s my passion, and that’s what I feel I’m really good at. But, I’m fascinated that this industry, the business… I also love the people in this industry, and I love helping other people in their journey. Part of the reason I created VoxyLadies was just for that.
Andy: I was going to ask you about that.
Andy: So VoxyLadies is part of the… you’ve created this brand…
Lisa: Yeah, this brand, and it’s a co-op of women. It’s a “selective collective of female voice talent” from – now we’re international, we have a girl in Brazil.
Lisa: But she live in the US. We’ve got girls in Los Angeles, in New York, and in kind of the south east, Altanta, Ashville, Charlotte area. And I created that just because I do love this business, and I love to see other people succeed in having, you know, certain… I don’t want to say… my voice is so specific that I really had to navigate my own way through this journey, and so I’ve been able to pick up some things along the way, and been able to help other people with their businesses too, and their approach to coming at this as a profession.
Andy: And so having close relationships with people like that helps…
Andy: …you to brainstorm…
Lisa: Yes, it does.
Andy: … and to develop ideas.
Lisa: Yeah. It really does. It’s inspiring, and it’s encouraging. And there is, for me, especially there’s a level of accountability that I have, because I know these girls are behind me, and I’m behind them, when we’re working together. So, you know, it’s kind of one of those “no man left behind” kind of things. And so everyone cares for one another, but especially having a group like that really keeps me accountable. It keeps me you know not… because it is… if you’re a voice actor you’re also an entrepreneur.
Lisa: So you have to be responsible for yourself in your business.
Andy: Pushing yourself forward.
Lisa: Yeah, pushing yourself. Nobody else is going to do it. You know. And so having that has been really a driving force for me. It has created a lot of great opportunities, like this one I’m about to, you know, I’m about to take.
Andy: Yeah. Well that’s fantastic. I look forward to seeing the unfolding story in the coming weeks, months, and years…
Lisa: Me too!
Andy: Yeah! Come on! Make it happen! What’s your – OK, we’ve got the grinder going – What’s your voice age? What’s the normal age of your character?
Lisa: You know, my signature sound is this, right here. This voice, my natural voice is about six or seven.
Andy: Six or seven. Well, you know what I’m really looking forward to seeing my six year old, so I was being…
Lisa: I know!!!! Hi William!!
Andy: It’s been great to have the… reminder of what I’ve been missing for the last couple of weeks.
Andy: And we look forward to hopefully you and William working together sometime.
Lisa: I know.
Andy: We’ll see where that goes. So thank you so much for your time this morning, Lisa.
Lisa: Thank you.
Andy: It’s been lovely to meet you.
Lisa: So good to meet you too.
About Lisa Biggs
Lisa Biggs’ voice has elicited teasing and nicknames like “squeaky” since grade school. Even as a sophomore in college, after giving an oral presentation in sociology class, her professor approached her privately to say, “Your presentation was great, but you know if anybody is going to take you seriously in the real world you’re going to have to do something about your voice”. And that’s exactly what Lisa did.
Lisa Biggs is a seasoned voice-actor who has been in the industry for the greater part of ten years–living and working in both New York City as well as Los Angeles. Clients have called Lisa “the one take wonder” and she has developed and mastered a wide range of signature sounds that kids relate to and parents respond to. She has a home studio and is available anywhere via ISDN.
When Lisa is not behind the mic, she enjoys making guacamole, learning to play the banjo and teaching acting to a very special group of students at the Frazee Dream Center.
From Tot to Tween to Sweet Sixteen… Lisa Biggs speaks Kid.
Voice Over Café
Collaborative video for VOICE 2012