Imagine my surprise when someone sent me a copy of an email blast written by voice talent -master marketer and hawker of voice over workshops, Susan Berkley.
I do get a lot of questions about my name. And no, my Mom wasn’t a seamstress. I was christened Roberta Beam, and a nurse that took care of me as a baby started calling me “Bobbin”. So Bobbin….it’s a nickname for Roberta; a kind of hybrid cross between Bobbi and Robin I tell people. And yes, it was a great radio name which was mine alone when I did that tour oh so many years ago. And today as a voice talent actress, my name is memorable and I believe it works for me, but then again my name is my essence. Smart, cool, soft and warm… and a bit sassy at times.
Well, back to the topic at hand. I suppose Susan won’t mind me publishing her post here, since she used my name in it as an example. Here ya go.
|Can a Catchy Stage Name Help You Book More Voice Over Work?
By Susan Berkley
|A subscriber writes: “I’ve been thinking of changing my name for voice overs to make myself stand out. What do you think?” Susan Berkley: Okay, I have a confession to make.
Berkley is not my family name. It used to be Silberkleit before I changed it legally many years ago when I was first getting into radio. Unless you’re German or know one of my relatives, you probably can’t pronounce it, and that’s why I changed my name. When I decided to change my name I made a list of potential names I thought sounded cool, including Susan Silverlight(very native American, very hippie) and Sage Bennett , which I still like. If I ever write a steamy Romance Novel that will be my ‘nom de plume’. I gave all my choices to a numerologist who picked Berkley as the name with the best ‘vibes’. She was right. It’s been a great name and I intend to keep it ’til the end.
But will adopting a catchy name help your voice over career? Well, it certainly can be a conversation starter. There’s an Indie rock musician named David Wax Museum who’s building a big fan base, and alliteration can certainly help a name stick to your ear.
There’s a female voice talent named Bobbin Beam and a female guitar virtuoso named Kaki King, but I’m sure they got where they are because of their talent, not their names. In today’s multi-cultural world, an actor with an unusual or foreign-sounding name is not as big a deal as it used to be.
In fact, unusual names are often more memorable. Many of today’s top actors keep their original family names and proudly showcase their diversity. I also think that once people make the effort to properly pronounce an unusual name they feel a certain sense of pride every time they say it, so this could work to your advantage as well. The author and consultant Sally Hogshead confronts the elephant in the room right up front. On the home page of her website she writes: “A Hogshead is an old English word for a keg of beer. What’s your name mean, smartass?”
Ultimately, it’s not the name itself but how you FEEL about your name that enhances your confidence. And it’s your talent, persistence, marketing and people skills that will get you the work, not a catchy name.