Editor’s note: Is your child or young adult interested in voice acting? Meet Satauna Howery, a voice actor who is blind, and hear her advice to others who are blind or low vision who are interested in a career in the industry.
Hold on to your hats and be prepared to be wowed! You’re about to become acquainted with the spirited and engaging Satauna Howery, a skilled voice actor and small business owner who happens to be blind. We’ll dive into Satauna’s early life—the experiences that shaped her career trajectory—and hear her advice for other individuals who are blind or low vision who may want to pursue voice acting. But before we do, might I suggest listening to Satauna’s voice-acting samples on her website: Satauna Howery – My Voice. Your Message. BULLSEYE! [Yes, really, go now! I’ll wait.]
Glad you’re back. Are you as mesmerized as I am over Satauna’s demos of broadcasting, narrations, tutorials, commercials, E-learning, imaging, and animation voices? She’s accomplished alright!
I’m saying the following in my best announcer voice: “Let’s learn more about Satauna, and hear what she has to tell us about herself and her line of work!”
Satauna’s early life
Satauna, born with no usable vision, reflects on her early years with fondness—fondness over the nurturing and support of her family and the support of her itinerant teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI).
Satauna’s family nurtured an early interest in music by providing Satauna with access to musical equipment and development. She remembers fiddling with the family’s baby grand piano and learning “London Bridges Falling Down” as a child. Her family proceeded to sign her up for classical piano lessons, which she continued for four years—that is until she was tired of classical piano and wanted to pursue her own musical preferences. Satauna’s dad pivoted alongside Satauna and built a small recording studio for his daughter to record the music she enjoyed. As a result, Satauna practiced not only singing and playing musical instruments, but also audio engineering and technology skills. Skills, that is, Satauna utilizes today.
Braille is another tool Satauna currently utilizes that she learned as a child. Satauna’s TVI taught her braille at an early age, and Satauna became enamored with reading! She enjoyed English classes, stories, and books—an important component to Satauna’s career.
Spoiler alert! The interests and skills Satauna developed as a child eventually took center stage in her professional career.
But Satauna didn’t head straight to professional voice acting. She began her career in tech support with programs such as Windows 95. It was during her tech support days Satauna met her husband and proceeded to place her career on hold for a season of family raising. While home and remembering an early experience of voice acting for a friend who built an animatronic character for a Texas theme park, Satauna’s desire for voice acting grew.
Satauna thought she’d produce her own voice acting demos and pursue the career, but the task was daunting and she was hesitant. However, when her friend received coaching in voice acting and paid for a professional demo of her skill sets, Satauna decided to pursue coaching in voice acting and opted to also acquire a professional demo. She then boldly joined casting sites where she shared her biography and presented her demos, and where she could comb through audition opportunities.
Little by little, Satauna’s experience grew, as did her development of skills through continued education by researching trends and continued pursuit of coaching. Satauna has now been in the field for ten years.
And just what does her job entail? Satauna shares that her job consists of researching characters, deciding how to present them, auditioning, proficiently reading “copy” at her at-home recording studio, and working with technology to prepare, edit, and send her clips. Equally as important as acting and editing, however, are entrepreneurial skills. Satauna shares, “You can’t successfully do one without the other. If you’re going to freelance more than part-time, you have to think of it as a business. It takes some of the shine off, but you have to consider paperwork, administration, invoices, and taxes.”
Are you intrigued? Wondering if the career is for you?
If you or a family member is an individual who is blind or low vision and is potentially interested in the career field, Satauna shares the following thoughts and advice:
“I feel strongly that we don’t have enough blind people in the field! It used to have to be sighted people to narrate talking books, but that’s not the case anymore.”
Satauna shares her surprise that there aren’t many others who are blind or low vision in the field, and she encourages those who are interested to get started! Satauna recommends honing in on a specific industry of interest and pursuing it. You may be interested in recording audio descriptions, voiceovers, audiobooks, announcements, training, e-learning, commercials, overhead announcements in stores, product demos, or content in a specific field such as healthcare. Consider, too, the field of listening to audio description and evaluating it for quality control—making sure the audio descriptions make sense. Furthermore, consider the fields of editing audio files and sound engineering, adding music to media.
“You have to know your assistive technology well.”
Satauna shares that to succeed in the field, one must be proficient with technology. Satauna reads braille using a braille display, utilizes a screen reader, and occasionally utilizes Aira, a provider of on-demand access to visual information. You’ll need to utilize technology to efficiently trim audio files, work in a digital audio work station, have meetings over various platforms, and upload files to various platforms.
“The words (the script, called the ‘copy’) are written for you; you’ll need to find a way to say them.”
Not only will you need to read fluently utilizing tools and assistive technology, but you’ll need to know how to interpret characters and present them accurately and effectively. Satauna recommends investing in yourself by pursuing voice-acting lessons and coaching—and then begin looking for work as soon as possible! You can continue developing your skills as you pursue work. [Side note: Satauna herself offers coaching; contact her through her Satauna Howery – My Voice. Your Message. BULLSEYE! If interested]
Perhaps you, reader, recognize your interests align with a career in voice acting. Utilize Satauna’s advice—select a specific industry, ensure your technology skills are strong, and pursue the development of voice acting skills—and get started!
Thank you, Satauna, for sharing your story and words of advice!
Want to hear more of Satauna’s career journey? Join the APH ConnectCenter for a CareerConversation on June 2 at 6:00 PM EST as we interview Satauna and provide time for the audience’s career-related questions! Register here.