With the relaunch of our new website, we thought what better time than to get to re-know the agents at Excellent Talent! We started with our Senior SuperAgent, Natalie Hill, who talks us through how she got started as an Agent, what she looks for in talent, and her pet elephant, Tiny.
Hi Natalie! How did you get started as an agent?
It was totally unplanned. Before Excellent Talent, I had been working as a Logistics Manager for an Overseas Entertainment Agency (booking flights, accommodation, work Visas – you name it, I booked it). After graduating in Musical Theatre, I knew that I wouldn’t make it to the West End stage, but I was excited about working in the Arts one way or another. Whether it be a Casting Director or a Musical Theatre Agent – but, how on earth do you become one of those?
Having lived in London for 3 years at this point, an unpaid internship was totally out of the question(!). In January 2019, I quit my Logistics Manager role and worked as an office Temp for 3 months while I searched for a job that could kickstart the next stage of my career. After a ton of job applications, one interview after another, I was about to reach the end of my tether.
I had the all-important phone call from Jon Briggs and Pete Gold, the founders of Excellent Talent, to tell me I “got the job”. Over 3 years on, now a Senior Agent for Voiceover and Presenters, I have never looked back!
What’s your typical day like at Excellent?
When I tell you that every working day is different, it is the God’s honest truth. You open your emails, open the agency diary system, write your daily list of tasks and away you go! We work together on incoming enquiries and voiceover briefs – a mixture of new and ongoing projects. We negotiate fees with clients and update the diary as we go along. On our quieter days, we pay attention to marketing our talent. Keeping a close eye on industry news and current trends.
Now, all of this sounds pretty standard and straight forward but, as we all know with the constant production of new and exciting projects, we work on different castings all the time with lots of new contacts. I am also in charge of the Accounts but I won’t go into all of that – the only people excited to hear about money are those who are getting paid 😉
What do you love about your job? [no pressure!]
It may sound cliché (even saying that sounds cliché…) but, all through my training and career, I’ve had a real love and admiration for talented people in the Performing Arts industry. This was limited to Acting and Musical Theatre for many years until I was introduced to the ever-growing world of Voiceover. The sense of pride I feel towards the talent I represent is the best part of my job. From hearing their fantastic voice reels, to reviewing their audition demos and then finally: booking the job! Agents can sometimes be viewed as “careless money-grabbers”. None of us would be working if we didn’t want to earn money but, the reason we are successful is because of the talented people we work with. I am genuinely just so happy to be in their virtual presence on a daily basis.
How did it feel the first time you heard a client’s voice on the radio/television?
The funny thing about Voiceover is that until you have any involvement with the industry, you really don’t pay much attention to how much it surrounds your day-to-day life. The first really cool moment was when I discovered that my previous boss, Jon Briggs, was the original male voice of Siri and the announcer of the Weakest Link (among many other roles!). I heard Jon’s voice everywhere I went – on buses, in taxis, on mobile phones. From then on, my ears were on constant alert. I recognised our talent’s voices here, there and everywhere – I was so excited. The weirdest feeling is hearing a voice whom you represent while you are in a public place (for example, an in-store advertisement for JML), and wanting to tell the nearest stranger that you “know that voice!”. Luckily, I’ve always been well-behaved on that front and just enjoyed a momentary mini celebration to myself.
Can you tell when a client has the potential to “make it” and if yes, what is it about them?
Of course, the first thing we listen for is overall talent. Does this artist sound like a great Voiceover?
Second of all, does this voice fall within the current trends of the industry? I’m talking in terms of accent, tone and style.
Thirdly, do they have a professionally produced voice reel that not only sounds Excellent, but also showcases their talent in an intelligent way?
A great lesson I have learned is that there is a big difference between having a nice voice and being a good Voiceover artist.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1. Take your time and get to know your strengths. Training and research are key.
2. Gain as much experience as you can before you begin to approach agencies. You will be more marketable if you can show them that you know what you’re talking about.
3. Treat your Voiceover career as a business. Invest your time and effort into every element. Not a single Voiceover Artist has had an easy ride!
For potential talent looking to submit for representation, what can they do to increase their chances for a positive response?
I say this time and time again. Research the agency you are applying for. Get to know their style. Find out who the Agents are and direct your email to these individuals, they will ultimately be the people you work closely with if your application is successful. Study the existing roster – do you fill a gap? Do you have a niche that you feel is missing from this particular agency?
Oh, and one more thing, if you are going to “check in to see if your email has been received” – please reconsider this. Agencies receive a huge number of submissions on a daily basis alongside looking after their existing talent. A gentler approach would be to get in touch after minimum of 6 months with a reminder and maybe some updates on what you’ve been up to in the booth!
What do you think makes for a successful client/agent relationship?
Honesty, Transparency and most of all: Communication.
If you weren’t an agent, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I’d often considered becoming an Event Planner. I’ve always found myself in jobs where I’ve had to be incredibly focused and organised – I like to think this has served me pretty well so far! I’ve had the pleasure (most of the time) of being an Events Hostess at large events across the UK as well as an Events Coordinator in beautiful Cyprus. It’s an environment where I meet new people and help them have a great time. Put it all together, throw in a few qualifications (snooze), mix it all up and there you have it!
On top of that, I’ve been planning my once-postponed Wedding since January 2019 so, come September 2021, ask me again and we’ll see how successful that was. Ha ha!
And, on a more serious note….
If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose, and why?
Flying. 100%. In terms of getting from A to B, I am so impatient and what cooler way to speed things up with little to no traffic!
You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?
I’d be surprised if it managed to fit in my garden for a start. No way it would be in the flat (Think of the mess). I’d call it Tiny and it would act as the perfect perch for all the incredibly fat pigeons that live around Twickenham. Tiny would also be the perfect alarm clock.