Industry Insights: Voice Acting with Maya Tuttle

By Libby Smith • Project Manager

Welcome back to our blog series “Industry Insights”, where we interview members of the production world that we have had the opportunity to collaborate with! This week, we are featuring a voice-over artist who has also drummed up some notoriety in the music industry. Meet Maya Tuttle!

Maya attended UC Irvine (University of California, Irvine) and majored in English. After college, she worked for a public television program called Roadtrip Nation for several years as an editor and director. It was there that she got her first voice-over break. “We were in need of an in-house voice for the title open,” she recalled. However, in 2012, her life changed when her band, The Colourist, an after-work activity until then, signed a major label deal with Republic Records.

For three straight years, she was drumming and singing on late night TV appearances, performing at festivals, and touring the US and Canada. As the craziness died down, their agent/management introduced her to the world of voice-over as another creative outlet to supplement her music-making at home, and "fell in love!” Maya has completed voice-over work for Lego, Sam's Club, Xerox, Marvel, and numerous video/mobile games, “I've found my recording and music software skills to be quite valuable in my VO work.”

MS: Can you describe the range of your voice-over capabilities?

I can perform anywhere from "middle-aged" (this term seems to mean a range of things for different people) to cartoonish child. One of my instructors at the Kalmenson & Kalmenson Agency in LA tagged me as having a perfect little boy voice, which is a specialization that I proudly flaunt.

MS: What is your favorite part about the voice-over industry?

I love that I can work from home--or anywhere! I keep my entire recording set-up in a carry-on sized pelican case, so even if I have to fly cross-country for a rock show, I can still do VO work.

MS: Do you have any tips for people seeking a voice-over artist?

If casting for a project, YouTube samples of voice-over work that the client likes is always great. It really helps the VO artist get a sense of the VO type you're going for. Make sure you and the voice-over artist establish the tone for the project before having him or her record the entire script. Also, it's always a challenge when a client hands me a script with extremely long--albeit grammatically correct--sentences. I can't tell you how many times I get a 35 word-long sentence and I feel like I'm gasping for air by the end of it. Easy to write, but hard to speak! If a client can keep sentences at a reasonable length, I'm always grateful.

MS: What has proven most challenging thus far about your job?

The tight deadlines. I still haven't figured out why this is, but it seems like half of voice-over jobs are code red urgent and require turnaround within hours. It can be tough, but if you can handle operating quickly under pressure, you can do very well for yourself as a VO actor. Another challenging aspect is very long, very intense directed sessions. Sometimes I run into the Stanley Kubricks of VO directing and, bless their talented hearts, they'll have me do what feels like 45 takes of the same line. I can understand the perpetual hunt for perfection, but on the practical side, a voice actor must protect her voice from overuse.

MS: What types of projects do you enjoy working on the most?

I love any and all voice-over work, but video games and cartoons hold a special place in my heart. Performing on jobs like those, I feel like I'm a kid playing make-believe. It's so fun! I do, however, have to warn my loved ones if I'm doing any fighting or death scenes. Once, while visiting my parents, I was recording the role of a hostage for a game. My mom heard my muted screaming of "Help! Please! He's got me trapped and he has a gun!" and she was very fearful indeed! Sorry, Mom!

MS: What is your personal mantra?

Life is good!

MS: What are some of your favorite movies?

Absolutely Fabulous - The Movie. Back to the Future - Part 3. Shall We Dance (Japanese Version).

MS: Can you give us a fun fact about yourself?

My cat has somehow amassed a massive Instagram following. He's got 160,000 followers. Yeah. I'm just as confused as you. I mean, he's cute, but, wow. The funny thing is that he has no idea he is so famous; yet, miraculously, he still behaves like a diva. If you're into Instagramming, you can find him at instagram.com/richard_kitty.

Check out Maya's work with us in this 30-second spot promoting the Chinese Lantern Festival, just one of the many videos she has lent her vocal talents to.