By KATIE REDMILES
Sitting in her closet with an “excellent quality” microphone, buffered by the mass of clothes she is seated between, junior digital media studies major Amber May records whichever quirky voice is in demand for Youtube animators.
May is a voice actor, or voiceover artist.
The closet has become her office since, without a professional recording studio, it’s the best thing to make sure a clear sound is given and doesn’t bounce off the walls.
She discovered love for voice acting in fourth grade after spending most of her childhood enamored by cartoons. The obsession was so fervent that her mother would constantly have to tell her to stop watching cartoons or she would go blind. Yet, May wasn’t watching the cartoons as much as she was listening to them.
She tried out her first voice on the playground during recess: Buttercup from the Powderpuff Girls. Her friends first chose May to be Buttercup because of her low-toned voice. Though she at first disapproved of the match, she decided to show them just how good of a Buttercup she could be. They were so impressed by the likeness they started cheering and laughing with her.
Then, at the age of 13, May stumbled upon Youtube animations, which allowed anyone to create their own cartoons. She was discovered soon after by an animator who wanted her to voice a cat in an argument with a dog about who made the better pet.
“He sent me the script and I was off…. I really didn’t want to see it since I thought I’d sounded horrible when I recorded [it], but he shoved the video link in my face and was like ‘Just watch it,’” recalled May. After watching it, however, she could not stop.
From there, her Youtube career took off, teaming up with many other animators. “High-pitched voices, low-pitched voices, mid-ranged voices with Russian accents; any voice they wanted I managed to figure out how to create,” said May.
She talks of loving the feeling of being someone else, even if just for that moment. “I thought my own personality was pretty boring, so getting the chance to play a British housewife who was secretly an assassin was pretty exhilarating,” said May.
Unlike most people who desire to be famous, May does not want to be known for her face or just cartoon characters. She wants to be the voice on commercials, the nagging lady over the Department of Motor Vehicles intercom, the monotone GPS command and even the voice that reminds kids to keep their hands and feet in the ride at all times.
“I want people to recognize my voice when they hear it, thinking ‘Oh that’s Amber May’!” May said.
Her favorite voice is her promo voice, which is akin to that which one hears telling them “you’re listening to __ radio! The only station that gives you all of the songs you love 24/7!”
Yet, she saves her best voices to prank her family. When in the car, she will turn on her “automated voice” to sound like her mom’s GPS. Once she said “turn left at next exit, then make a sharp right turn into Cornfield Road.” Her mother bought it and confusedly searched for the left turn, only realizing it wasn’t real after May burst out laughing.
Currently she is working on various female teen voices, including “preppy valley girls,” “smart nerdy girls,” “tough girls” and “ditzy girls,” for a job voicing radio commercials at Star Radio. Over the summer, she will be interning at Q94 in Richmond voicing commercials there as well.
Some days, May spends hours in her closet recording without even realizing the sun has gone down. Yet, like any true aspiring artist, there is nothing she loves more than recording her next best voice.