So if there’s one thing that I’ve found as true in this business is you really never know what will happen next! I got invited to interview two fantastic audiobook narrators, Carrington MacDuffie and Ilyana Kadushin. Both ladies have had impressive careers, garnered awards, and have a wonderful store of experience to discuss. We went through a few questions on the topic of work/life balance, and I hope you enjoy what these ladies have to say! Before I get to the questions, I’ve included mini bios for both ladies so you can see the chops before reading the thoughts! 😉
Carrington MacDuffie is a recording artist, writer, and voice actor who has narrated over 200 audiobooks and received numerous AudioFile Earphones awards and 8 Audie finalists. She has narrated everything from Words Will Break Cement:The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen to Conquered by a Highlander by Paula Quinn. Her original audiobook of poetry and music, Many Things Invisible, was published by Blackstone Audio, and was a finalist for an Audie in two categories. Her recent release of Only an Angel, which has been in the top 25 on the Americana charts for the past couple of months.
Find her at: http://lunacydewpoint.com/audiography • carringtonmacduffie.com
Ilyana Kadushin is a recording artist in the band Lythion and she is the voice of over 60 audio books for various publishers including the entire Twilight series (which has brought her cult-like fame in certain circles). She was a finalist for a 2014 Audie Award, for multicast audio book of short stories called “Rip Off,” and a winner for “Dune” by Frank Herbert, which won best Sci-fi Multi-cast audio. She co-produced and scored 2011 HBO Documentary “Separate, But Equal”.
Find her at: http://www.ilyanakadushin.com
1. Do you feel that coming to voice over after having started out as a singer/performer helped your narration work? Do you feel like it gave you more to draw on?
Ilyana Kadushin: It did indeed! I remember being at an audition for a national commercial voice-over and the casting person asking if I was a singer. She said she could always tell the voice-over actors who were singers, because of our tone, breath control, phrasing and stamina with longer copy. So clearly, when I started narrating audiobooks, those skills helped even more!
Carrington MacDuffie: I absolutely feel that having a background as a singer and performer helped my narration work. Most voice actors have a background in theatre, and are trained as actors, which is what the job really is: an acting job. And so they are very well prepared. I have no theatre background, so I draw on a different skill set from most voice actors. I wouldn’t say I have more to draw on, I’m just coming from a different angle.
2. Have there been any major changes for you in voice over since you started?
Ilyana Kadushin: Over the years doing voice-over and narration, my understanding of how to use my voice as an instrument and how to bring who I am into what I am working on, has developed greatly. Being that I started out doing commercial VO and then expanding out to promos, video games, animation and audio books; those varied projects brought different qualities out in my voice.
Carrington MacDuffie: When I first started auditioning for commercial voiceover I more often landed industrials. When I first got cast for audiobooks that constituted a significant change. I’m not a very good salesman, but I can tell a story.
3. Do you find it difficult to balance all of your passions and careers?
Ilyana Kadushin: I love the variety. I love creating for my music production company one day and then the next day narrating a book, or producing a film or event. All my passions feed each other and I just find that I have to stay really mindful so I can stay present with each project I am in at that time. Balance comes from being present in each career and surrounding myself with creative, brave and inspiring people.
Carrington MacDuffie: I certainly do! There simply isn’t time for everything I want to do—there isn’t even time for what I have to do! The lesser passions have to take a back seat. And I would be a better businesswoman if I weren’t also writing music and poetry, making video, doing visual art, etc.
4. Can you give any advice to voice actors who, like you, follow more than one creative muse?
Ilyana Kadushin: Experiment with integrating your different creative paths and see what happens. They can influence each other and show you your work in a different light. And do things that feed your soul and take care of YOU; like exercise, mediation, cooking, sharing what you do with those you love! All these things can help you find your creative muse.
Carrington MacDuffie: You must of course take care of the most pressing business always, meet your obligations and deadlines, but also be sure not to ignore any seriously strong creative urges. It’s natural to be drawn into the thousand little things that keep your business afloat every day. But you ignore your strong creative urges at your own peril.
5. Does ‘real life’ fit in easily for you? (Household, loved ones, bill paying, etc?) How do you manage to integrate that part of your life?
Ilyana Kadushin: I have heard it said in many ways and different wording, but if we approach all aspects of our life like home, family, bills etc like a part of our “creative process”, we can find that balance and energy to do it all!
Carrington MacDuffie: I wouldn’t call it easy, but I do stay on top of my household because if things are in order I’m much more efficient, and I need a clear space to work in. I find time to pay my bills, because it would be too stressful and distracting to have that hanging over me. But I don’t pursue a social life. As the poet Kenneth Koch put it best,
“There isn’t time enough, my friends—
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends—
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.
Michelangelo had feeling
For Vittoria and the Ceiling
But did he go to parties at day’s end?
Homer nightly went to banquets
Wrote all day but had no lockets
Bright with pictures of his Girl.
I know one who loves and parties
And has done so since his thirties
But writes hardly anything at all.”
6. How did you get started as a coach in addition to your other work?
Ilyana Kadushin: I had already been a teaching artist leading workshops, but I got started in voice performance coaching from people approaching me and asking me if I would do it and referring me clients. I am really passionate about “the art of public speaking” and helping people “communicate and pitch their content and ideas” and it built out from there.
Carrington MacDuffie: I was invited to be a guest instructor in one of Pat Fraley’s workshops. Pat is a very well known and fabulous voice teacher whose workshops and instruction you shouldn’t miss if you have the chance to attend. It was so much fun that I decided to continue coaching on a one-on-one basis. Assisting in and witnessing the building and blossoming of natural talent is terrifically satisfying.
7. What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had told you when you started in voice over?
Ilyana Kadushin: I do tell most people starting out that you need to find your niche and place in this business, where you and your voice can shine. And also realize that there is an ebb and flow to the work, so over the years you need to expand and diversify what you do.
Carrington MacDuffie: I was lucky enough to receive valuable advice when first starting out. “Know your limitations, and then seek out ways to surpass them.”