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  • Writer's pictureChris Butera

My Voiceover Origin Story Part 4: Send in the Wolf

A medium -sized gray wolf looking calm in the forest at night.
Photo courtesy of Wix.

Last time we talked about my voiceover origin story, I detailed my first stab at going pro and how I almost killed my career before it began. This time around, I’ll discuss the moment I got serious and how an unlikely hobby led to a phone call that changed everything.

If you know me, you know I have two vices: chocolate milkshakes and trading card games. 

Just like chocolate shakes, trading card games hooked me when I was a kid. Pokémon started it all in 1997 when the franchise was brand new in the US. When I got older, Yu-Gi-Oh! kept the chain going.

Although I had always collected Magic: The Gathering as a kid because of the killer artwork, I didn’t learn how to play it until adulthood.

Around late 2016, a childhood friend passed away. We had grown apart during high school but occasionally crossed paths and caught up when we did. I had become good friends with his younger brother over the years, who played the popular fantasy trading card game on and off since middle school. To help take his mind off things, we started playing Magic, kicking it off with the Blessed vs. Cursed Duel Decks. 

Little did I know this gesture would restart my cardboard crack addiction.  

As you probably guessed, I got WAY too into this game (It seems to happen to every player at some point. Nobody knows why). Almost 10 years later, I still play the occasional game of Commander and attend prerelease events once in a while.

Although Magic has not been kind to my bank account, it’s a fun way to pass the time. Plus, there are worse ways to blow a paycheck.

This hardcore hobby turned out to be a strange blessing in disguise for my voiceover career.

Return of the Cardboard Crack Addiction

Asian man with glasses holding up a single Magic: The Gathering card.
Photo by Wayne Low / Unsplash.

When I wasn’t casting 4/4 dragons with flying, trample, and haste, I was either researching voiceover to get started or getting into Magic YouTubers to get better at the game. However, one channel would find a wild way to combine both.

Tolarian Community College is a Magic-themed YouTube channel (some would say TCC is THE Magic YouTube channel) hosted by The Professor, a former Community College teacher who loves Magic.

On Tolarian Community College, Prof. cracks packs, provides product reviews, chats about the game, plays the commander format with his friends, and more. It’s fun to watch and a great channel for newer players to learn from.

Cut to a few years after I started playing Magic. I had taken my first attempt at voiceover and crashed and burned. Hard.

I knew I screwed up but didn’t realize how bad. I also didn’t know what I should have done instead and how to pivot so that I could do voiceover right.

If I wanted to be a professional voice actor, I needed help. Fast.

Magic and Voiceover Collide

A collection of vocal microphones inside a professional recording studio.
Photo courtesy of Wix.

At this point, Prof. was early in his YouTube days and had several segments that he doesn’t do anymore. One of which was card previews from the latest set. He’d also use a lot of voice actors to help play the different characters from the lore. Listening to the voiceovers bring the story to life made me fall in love with the craft and the game even more. 

One particular card preview impressed me. For the Theros: Beyond Death set, the Professor was given the preview of Kiora Bests The Sea God. In this video, he went above and beyond.

Rather than reveal the card, explain what it does, and provide commentary, Prof. decided to have several top-notch voice actors read the lore surrounding this card: Maria Pendolino as Kiora, Charlie Emmeline Albers as Thassa, and Wolf Williams as the narrator.

I was blown away. 

Williams stole the show as the narrator. I knew I had to talk to this guy. 

I reached out a few days later. We set up a call.

Fate Reforged

Man in shorts walking alone in the mountains.
Photo courtesy of Wix.

The morning after a rowdy poker night, I gave Wolf a jingle and asked him for voiceover career guidance.

We talked for two and a half hours.

He did not have to do that.

Starting with his signature “A man asks God for a car...” joke, Wolf gave me tons of information and advice, including where to get acting training, coaching recommendations, and helpful voiceover podcasts to listen to for sponging up information. I recorded the call for future reference and took as many notes as I could, planning what to do next. 

At the end of that call, Wolf gave me the most important words of wisdom that can apply to someone starting any endeavor, let alone voiceover. It's become a mantra that I tell others getting started and recite to myself daily.

"Remember, this is a long chess game."

I still go back to that recording to this day. Years later, we met in person at a conference he was speaking at. The first thing I did was thank him. 

Wolf and I keep in touch, trading voiceover war stories and advice. Wolf’s an incredible voice actor, a wonderful human being, and an awesome mentor/VO Dad. 

I’ll never be able to thank him enough for his act of kindness. Any time I run into someone curious to get into voice acting, I pay it forward and provide as much advice as I can.

After a few weeks of strategizing/budgeting, I had my ducks in a row, ready to pull the trigger. The world, however, had other plans. For everyone.

Did I mention this call took place in 2020?

We all know what happened next:  COVID-19 reared its ugly head and the world ended. 

I’ll spare you the details of my COVID nightmare. All you need to know is I used that time to get the proper training, gather my marketing materials, and set up my home studio during what I like to call my “negative years” (aka the training / prepping years before you start a business).

I will, however, share portions of that story another time. 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Looking for a professional voice actor who plays his cards right? Fill out my project contact form or shoot me an email to get in touch today!


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