You can’t please everybody, so don’t worry about it. Most of the time when you don’t get the job, you will never know the reason why and it doesn’t always mean you gave a bad audition. You could have looked like the director’s ex-wife! Just concentrate on “booking the room” so they’ll call you back for more projects.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kira Gurnée. Heard as the voice for movie channels, TV shows, film promos, Fortune 500 companies, best selling book trailers, and many others, Kira is a full time Voice Over actress and host for shows and live events. She is also an on camera actress with a background in News, Dance, and Rock Radio. When she’s not in her voice over studio, she can be found taking her car or motorcycle through the canyons, hiking the coastal mountains, snowboarding and scuba diving around the world, and doing the occasional stand up comedy show.
Thank you so much for joining us Kira! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thanks for inviting me to be one of your profile subjects! Odd as it sounds these days, I am actually doing what I went to school for. My degree was in Media Performance and Theatre. I dipped my toes into both TV and Radio, eventually deciding on Rock Radio and its crazy morning shows, where I was the “News and Comments” person. Through that, I was asked to do commercials, host charity events, and emcee big arena concerts. When I moved to California, I realized that Voice Over acting and Hosting could be a career in itself without having to get up at 3:30 in the morning to prepare for the morning show! I had also done a bit of modeling and acting in Florida, so I got some good coaching in LA to pursue the on camera roles I found interesting.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Haha, yes! Very early on in radio, I was asked to host the first concert Ozzy Osbourne had ever done sober. There were about 20,000 fans in the arena stomping and screaming for him to come onstage and he was a nervous wreck. I was doing breathing exercises with him backstage, hoping I was helping, and suddenly it struck me how surreal it was to be a 19 year old neophyte trying to calm down this god of heavy metal to get him onstage. I suggested every trick I had to ease the nerves. I don’t know if I actually helped, but he pulled it together brilliantly and went on to do an amazing show. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing that story! I think he’s one of the most talented singers in the genre to this day and feel lucky to have hung out with him a bit.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My first gig in radio was at Florida State’s college station, on a morning show of course. There’s a theme here…. And while I was manning the board, I forgot to turn the mic down in between songs. I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about in the studio but there were a lot of expletives involved — and a lot more when we realized what had happened! Luckily the FCC wasn’t listening, only the school officials.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
One of the things I love about my job is that it changes from day to day. Kind of like the news. Probably one of the reasons I do Newscaster and Reporter roles so often. What’s cool though is that I get to play with different characters for projects like the Sony Pix movie channel promos and the Hunger Games promos, and really find the humor in the script. I also enjoy the challenge of making technical material easily understandable as the face or voice of a brand like McAfee security or Hewlett Packard. And I always love it when my passions and work collide and I get to do something in the automotive, motorcycle, bourbon or wine category! I was the in show narrator for Street Tuner Challenge on SPEED TV, and got to break the boys balls a bit when they messed up, but always in good fun. Currently, I’m the voice you hear when you tour Lux Row bourbon distillers and I was just chatting with some of the marketing people at Grgich winery about doing new brand videos for them.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I loved hosting Sony’s Global Marketing Partners conference in Kyoto! On the evening of the awards dinner, which was more like the feeling of the Golden Globes since everyone was drinking, I shared an unexpected moment on stage with then President, Sir Howard Stringer. He went off script and called extra people up to the stage for a champagne toast that the staff hadn’t prepared for, and that wasn’t supposed to happen for a few more minutes. I had to improvise while the teleprompter operator and video guy quickly got up to that moment in the program and the event staff hurriedly poured more bubbles. After everyone was onstage, including the two extra people, and we had all had our toast, Sir Stringer took my arm and turned our backs to the audience to say in a slightly slurred Welsh accent, “Thanks for saving my ass!”
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
It’s about balance for me. Sounds horribly cliché, but it’s true. I would never leave my studio on “office days” if I didn’t put dance and yoga classes into my schedule!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see people take ownership of their bodies and health. My grandmother was an RN and nutritionist, very much ahead of her time, and taught me the value of natural whole foods instead of processed crap. I also worked in a doctors office and saw patients with diseases that were completely preventable through a better lifestyle. It takes a bit more time and planning, but it really makes a difference, especially over time. I’d also love to see nutritional supplements covered under insurance or deductible on taxes!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. You can’t please everybody, so don’t worry about it. Most of the time when you don’t get the job, you will never know the reason why and it doesn’t always mean you gave a bad audition. You could have looked like the director’s ex-wife! Just concentrate on “booking the room” so they’ll call you back for more projects.
2. Know your characteristics for casting. Look at your pictures, watch your video, listen to your VO and make a list of the industry descriptors that you naturally fit. That’s your starting off point and where you are the most authentic.
3. Don’t stay with an agent too long if the relationship is no longer working in your favor. It’s okay to move on and find a better fit for the current point in your career.
4. Spend the money on good headshots and a good web designer. As struggling artists, we always try to work a deal or get something as cheaply as possible, but often you really do need to suck it up and pay more for better quality!
5. You are your own small business, so learn marketing! I always treated this as a serious business and put in the hours, especially since you get 90% of your own jobs if you are doing that, but I did have to learn ways to market myself and connect with potential clients — just like any other business. The internet is a blessing and also a continual challenge to keep up with ever changing technology and platforms. So, we are always learning!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Marc Cashman is a terrific Voice Over Acting coach and referred me to my first long term gig in the medical and pharmaceutical e-learning field. Because of that I can count Astra Zeneca, Novartis, Pfizer, Bayer, Providence Hospitals, and many more among my clients.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Haha, I wouldn’t want to deter anyone else by naming only one person! But I love working with people who have a true passion for their business and appreciate working with another creative who does too!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!