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Odd Hollywood Jobs: Voiceover artist Ben Patrick Johnson




Ben Patrick Johnson
Ben Patrick Johnson
Eric Raptosh

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Chances are you've heard Ben Patrick Johnson's voice before, but you've never realized it.

Johnson is one of less than a dozen people who are major voiceover artists in Hollywood, and you know his voice. Take a listen.

 

Johnson was actually born with this gift.

"When I was a small child, they sent me in for some hearing testing," he says. "Sometimes, when little kids have a big voice that they kind of push, it can be an indication that there's hearing loss."

But his hearing was fine -- he just had a deep, resonant voice. By his early teens, he was getting the kind of work in radio that college-age kids would hope for.

It wasn't until a professional set-back put his career in motion to do voiceover work.

"In 1994, I was hired to be the first host of the TV show Extra," says Johnson, but, "it didn't work out quite as planned: just before the show went on the air, they found out that I gay. They didn't like that."

He was demoted to Senior Correspondent for the rest of his one-year contract. During that time, he cultivated relationships with the cast and crew of the show.

Once those people moved elsewhere in Hollywood, they kept him in mind ... and gave him voiceover work. Eventually he got so much that it became his full-time gig.

And it's a pretty nice set-up.

"We voiceover actors have home studios," says Johnson, and they connect to their clients via ISDN (think of it like a really high-quality phone line -- KPCC uses the technology, too, to talk to guests all around the world and make them sound like they're in studio).

"I might get a call or text from an agent saying, hey, 'we've got a booking for you in a half-hour at 1:30,'" he explains. "At about 1:28, I'll get an email with a script."

Then he pretty much reads the script cold -- and to be on Johnson's level, you need to get it right the first time.

"Clients are paying $300-$400 an hour for studio time, and there's a lot of people in the room, typically, and it's a matter of nailing it very quickly and moving on."

Take a look at this short documentary for more on how Ben does his job, and listen for more of what he told A Martinez on Take Two.

 

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