For 11 years, Kristen Udowitz was a voice for the Tire Industry Safety Council and the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
Now she's a voice for the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Society, Ford Motor Co., Girl Scouts of America, USAirways and any number of high-profile clients who seek her talents as a voiceover artist.
Since leaving the RMA in 2000 as vice president of communications and marketing, Ms. Udowitz has formed her own company, Nacho Average Voice, specifically to promote her voiceover career. For her, it's an ideal situation.
``I always had an interest in acting, but I never wanted to appear in front of the camera or to learn lines,'' she said. ``Commercials are the best bet, because you're reading from a script. It's a lot less intimidating to be acting behind a microphone.''
Voiceover artists are in constant demand and not just for radio and TV spots, Ms. Udowitz said. Telephone systems, Web sites, CD-ROM training programs and even store P.A. systems use voiceover performers. ``When you hear a voice saying, `This week at CVS, Soft'n'Dri is on sale for $3.29,' that's a voiceover tape,'' she said. ``There's a company that records them and sends them out every week.''
However, there's extreme competition for voiceover work. Ms. Udowitz finds herself competing for jobs with current and former radio disc jockeys and actors from Washington's burgeoning theater community. She must constantly send hundreds of copies of her CD ``resume'' containing samples of her voice work to potential clients, agents and ad agencies.
``It's so much work just to get the work,'' she said. But that labor is almost as gratifying as the voiceover work itself, she added, because it's an accomplishment simply to get noticed by voiceover casting directors.
One of Ms. Udowitz's most prominent radio spots was for USAirways shortly after last Sept. 11-a spot designed to calm people's fears and get them back into airplanes. Perhaps her biggest job to date was as narrator of ``Beating Time,'' a five-part documentary on the Discovery Health Channel, which aired March 4-8 and then was repeated about a week later.
Samples of Ms. Udowitz's work can be heard on her Web site: www.nachoaveragevoice.com.