You might not recognize Nicole Fazio’s face, but chances are you’ve heard her voice. As an in-demand voice-over actress, Nicole has branded companies ranging from MacDonald’s and Wal-Mart to Hyundai and Bare Escentuals.
Mike Parker – You grew up on a dairy farm. From country girl to the performing arts – there’s gotta be a story there.
Nicole Fazio – I had an acting teacher tell me once, ‘What you are in your life, you are in your work.’ I’ve found that to be true. I think it was possible for me to go from a dairy farm to Hollywood because I grew up in an honest environment.
I think being an actor is a natural thing for me. I’m drawn to beauty, and the area where I grew up was beautiful. The set of the movie “The Sound of Music” looks like where I grew up. My mom loved fabric and I loved exploring the patterns, whether in fabric or in nature. I was the youngest of a huge family, so while the other kids were in school I had the freedom to explore. There was a silo on the farm and I discovered that when I was inside it, my voice was amplified. I was intrigued by sound and words and stories. It just felt natural. Pop culture didn’t really interest me. I was more interested in the book-mobile that came by the local post office every week. I grew up in the perfect environment to nurture my interest in the arts.
Mike Parker – I can see why you fell in love with the arts, but what sparked your interest in working as a voice-over actress?
Nicole Fazio – I love the sound of the human voice, and I have a knack for mimicking voices, but honestly, I didn’t really set out to be a voice actress. I never watch animation when I was a kid; I thought it was boring. I never thought synthetic sound was anything I wanted to be involved with. But I went to music school, which requires you to be familiar with a number of different languages and compels you to learn to manipulate your voice. The techniques that I learned as a singer helped me to get work as a voice artist.
After I moved to LA and started auditioning for commercials I kept hearing, ‘You should do voice-overs.’ I didn’t find that idea to be interesting, but after hearing it constantly I decided to give it a shot. I had no idea what I was doing when I started, but at my first audition there was a music stand and a microphone, and I was comfortable with both. I went from never having done a voice-over to being in a room filled with casting directors and engineers. My objective was to deliver the tones that they wanted.
Each one of those jobs I booked turned out to be the goose that laid the golden egg, because those casting directors would go on to other clients, and they’d take me with them. 90 percent of my work now comes from being the voice of the brand.
Parker – Beyond voice work, you also do on-camera acting. What’s the biggest challenge in shifting between the two art forms?
Nicole – As far as the technical side there is not much difference. But in the film world, casting directors have a specific look that they want. To get work on camera you have to be camera ready. That means you need to be a certain dress size, which can be a challenge for someone like me, since I’m almost six-foot tall. You have a better shot at on-camera work if you’re a size six.
Parker – There is a delightful new comedic film, “In A World,” making the art house circuit right now, about a young woman trying to break into the male-dominated, movie trailer voice-over industry. Have you found this industry to be challenging for females?
Nicole – I think “In A World” is a great film, but my experience in the industry is the exact opposite experience. I know a lot of women who make a fortune as voice-over artists, and people don’t even know who they are. When it comes to television, I’d say 70 to 80 percent of voice work is female. So, yeah, it’s a cute movie, but in my experience it’s just inaccurate.
Bottom line: it’s all about results. As long as you approach the voice industry with integrity and a solid work ethic, casting directors love it.
One thing I am amazed at is the explosion in the popularity of voice-over acting. When I moved to LA and started doing voice-overs, it was kind of like the red-headed step-child. You didn’t really want to tell people you did voice-overs. It was almost embarrassing. Now there are advertisements on every street corner for courses promising to make you a voice-over star. And I would caution people who want to get into this industry to be very careful about responding to such ads. There are some great teachers out there, but there are also a lot of people out there who have never booked a voice-over job, who offer to teach you how to do it…for a price. Just make sure the person you pay for training can actually deliver the goods.
Parker – Last words?
Nicole – I thought I was going to come to LA and be a leading lady. That hasn’t happened yet. But my mom always told me, ‘You can be a star in your own life.’ That means being the best ‘You,’ you can be. It means helping people whenever you can. That could mean passing on a smile or a word of encouragement, or feeding the hungry or helping to build a home for the poor. I believe if you care about the things that are important to God, then God will take care of the thing things that are important to you.
The Seven Questions
1. What’s your favorite sound?
Nicole – My dog snoring.
2. What makes you happy?
Nicole – Helping people. That makes me feel alive.
3. What makes you angry?
Nicole – Injustice. People taking advantage of others.
4. What is the secret of success?
Nicole – Trying.
5. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, living or dead, who would it be?
Nicole – I’d have a dinner party with Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Oprah Winfrey. I love being in the presence of strong women.
6. What is the epitaph that is written on your tombstone?
Nicole – “Well done.”
7. When you get to heaven, what is the first thing you want to hear God say to you?
Nicole – “I’m so glad you are here.”
Visit Nicole Fazio online at NicoleFazio.com
Recent Conversations we’ve had: