By Stephanie Ciccarelli
May 8, 2009
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.
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.
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:
According to Rodney, it takes three things:
In response to the day, Rodney added a fourth to the list, which was another T for Training.
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.
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.
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.
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