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Rodney Saulsberry Wows and Inspires at Voice Coaches Expo

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

May 8, 2009

Comments (5)

Gigantic Beech treeVoice over legend Rodney Saulsberry returned to the Voice Coaches Expo to a rousing, standing ovation.

A Detroit native and graduate of the University of Michigan, Rodney Saulsberry is one of the most sought-after voice talents in our industry. As one of the top movie trailer voices in the business, moviegoers have heard Rodney's voice promoting some of the most popular films of recent years, including How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Friday, Drumline, Finding Forrester, Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Dumb and Dumberer, and many more. His voice has also announced for prestigious ceremonies including the NAACP Image Awards and the Essence Awards.

Filled with anticipation, people sat in the darkened theater, fully engaged in captivating storytelling that was both authentic and inspired.

Learn more from this phenomenal teacher through this coverage and hear about some personal experiences in voice acting.

Your Arm's Too Short to Box With God, But Not For Taxi

If you know Rodney Saulsberry's story about how he got into the business, you know that he started out in music and acting, but what you might not know is how this connection landed him on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles and how that day changed his life.

Rodney always wanted to go to LA, in fact, nearly every day he would tell his friends so much when they got together and watched a nightly program on TV. Toward the end of the show as the host was signing off, Rodney would interject his own sign off, which was, "Rodney Saulsberry, Los Angeles California". His friends encouraged him and knew that one day he would make it beyond the University of Michigan, his alma mater, to ham it up and make a go of it as an actor in Hollywood.

When he found himself on tour with the Broadway musical, "Your Arm's Too Short to Box With God", the final leg of the tour was in Los Angeles.

Not being one to let an opportunity pass him by, Rodney was considered for a role on "Happy Days", a role that he didn't get because he was too tall to play opposite The Fonz. Was he deterred? No! Rodney chose to keep walking the Paramount lot and found himself on the set of a show called "Taxi", directed by James L. Brooks, which starred Tony Danza.

Tony Danza happened to spot Rodney and gave him a playful push. Rodney, always the actor, pushed him back. They started to spar, and in the midst of this, Danza piped up and said, "That's him James!" For those of you who watched Taxi, this was the fateful moment where Tony Danza had identified a new cast mate for the show in Rodney Saulsberry, who then donned the role of Carl the Boxer.

A Man of His Word and a Man of Action

Rodney Saulsberry did indeed make it to Los Angeles where he resides with his family to this day. He has enjoyed a very successful career and continues to work for companies such as Twix, Toyota, Burger King, Zatarains, Alpo, Honda, 7UP, Nestle Crunch, SBC, Verizon, and now is also a sound alike for the current US president, Barack Obama.

Two things that got him to Los Angeles were his determination to be successful and his desire to entertain. Four things, among others that have kept him there, are Rodney's integrity, his talent, faith, and genuine humility. To add a fifth, his innate need to give back and see others succeed, reaching their potential.

Here's just a sampling of Rodney's work:

What it Takes to Be Successful

According to Rodney, it takes three things:

1. Confidence
2. Talent
3. Technique

In response to the day, Rodney added a fourth to the list, which was another T for Training.

How Can You Be Successful?

Rodney draws upon all of his personal experiences, skills and talents, or branches, to create new characters or interpretations. He likens this process to the anatomy a tree.

Your roots are always looking for something new with inspiration that feeds the trunk, which is your signature voice. Your signature voice is the voice that makes you the most money. Remember that everything you do, even if it is very different sounding from your regular speaking voice, is still an extension of you and is your voice. Lastly, when the roots offer a new opportunity to your core voice, or the trunk, let's say an audition, your branches, which are everything you have done in the past, are there to help assist you in developing whatever it is that you need to make creative choices that work.

For an example, Rodney's Zatarain man voice comes from a familial branch, modeled after his father-in-law's voice. Because of its success, Rodney's wife still jokes that he owes her dad money!

Other projects require pulling experience from his musical branches, such as the motivational music CD that he released earlier this year called "Better Than Before", a CD with 7 tracks based upon his teachings that build confidence.

P for Prolific

Rodney Saulsberry is the author of two published books, You Can Bank on Your Voice and Step Up to the Mic. He also has a CD as I mentioned before of motivational music called Better Than Before.

If you take a turn on YouTube, you'll notice that Rodney Saulsberry has a YouTube channel featuring a number of videos online, tongue twisters and podcasts.

The Rodney Saulsberry Effect

The night before the event, Rodney was able to make it to the gala mixer and spend some time with the participants, Voice Coaches staff and David and I. Within minutes, he had graciously connected with people who were very excited to meet him, enjoying the encounters, too. The next morning, people were already buying copies of his books and CDs. I was happy to see this because I have all of his books and his CD and know what kind of an impact they can make.

Rodney didn't present until late that afternoon, and after his presentation, there was a line up from the door of the theater to his booth at least 60 to 80 people long! Needless to say, those books and CDs went even faster then than they had gone before the presentation. There's something special about being in the presence of someone who inspires you and being able to shake their hand. I think this event was the perfect kind of venue for people to meet Rodney and see him in his element.

Any Comments?

Has Rodney made a difference in your life? If you've read any of Rodney's books, listened to his music, attended a workshop or heard him speak, I'd love to hear from you in celebration of his contributions to the voice over industry.

Please add a comment if you are moved to do so.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/AVTG

Related Topics: 2009, awards, booth, Detroit, Hollywood, industry, Inspirational, Los Angeles, Motivational, Rodney Saulsberry, Taxi, Tony Danza, TV, Voice Acting, Voice Coaches Expo, Voice Over, YouTube


Comments


    Great article Stephanie! I met Rodney at VOICE 2007. What a kind, wonderful man, and his book Step Up to the Mic is a semi-quick read, and is one that should be read over and over. Definitely one to be on the shelf of every voice artist.

    Posted by:

      He truly was wonderful to listen to wasn't he?

      Posted by:
      • Jonathan Horowitz
      • May 8, 2009 3:50 PM

        Man, would I have loved to been at the VO Coaches Expo. I'm a huge fan of Rodney and have taken both of his Commercial and Promo/Trailer Teleclasses, own both of this books "You Can Bank on Your Voice" (signed) and "Step Up to The Mic" and I have his album "Better Than Before" on the top of my iTunes playlists. Also, I have spoken with Rodney on the phone a few times which really blew me away. Am I a Fan Boy? You bet. The only thing that is missing for me is to meet and work with Rodney face to face. To me, Rodney is the ultimate example of not only a successful Voice Artists, but of a truly great person. He is always open to share his positive thoughts and ideas and provide encouragement to all. Recently I've had some nice success with booking a few cool VO gigs and I have to attribute most of this success to the teachings and the positive encouragement that Rodney has provided. If there was one person in this world that I would model myself after, it would be Mr. Rodney Saulsberry.

        Thanks for posting this Stephanie.

        Posted by:

          I too wish I could have made such a trip to see Rodney speak. The first demo I ever made was in my closet after reading Rodney's books. I sent him my demo and he actually responded! He gave me great feedback and showed me I have a chance at this. He lives in the city next to me and I run into him from time to time. I took his intensive workshop in Hollywood and boy was it inspiring. The rest of the class didn't like me that much. Every time he asked "who wants to go next" no body would raise their hand!?!? So I jumped up and ran into the booth! A chance to take direction from Rodney! I'm not going to pass that up! I owe my success so far in the business to Rodney and his teachings!!! Thanks Man!

          Rodney Rules!!!

          Posted by:
          • Brent Allen Hagel
          • May 15, 2009 2:10 PM

            Stephanie,
            I feel like I know Rodney although we have never meet. I am new in the biz and read every book on vo. I read all Rodney's and loved every one of them. I contacted him via email and found him as wonderful as his books. A very generous person. Someone who inspires and is always there with encouragement.
            Thanks for posting this article.

            Posted by:
            • laura Bednarski
            • June 2, 2010 10:00 AM

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