St. Paul grad nominated for voice-over work

Cary Ashby • Nov 27, 2018 at 9:00 PM

Being a voice-over nominated actor is a prestige that Christy Harst can carry with her the rest of her career.

The 1994 St. Paul High School graduate was nominated for a Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS) award in the category “outstanding promo demo reel, best voiceover.” There were more than 100 submissions.

“It’s like the Oscars of the voice-over world,” said Harst, who has been doing full-time voice-over work for nearly five years. 

“Promo is a male-dominated genre,” she explained. “I was the only female nominated in the category and I was the first one in four years.”

Being a Voice Arts Awards nominee meant the Norwalk native walked the red carpet Nov. 18 at the Warner Bros. film studios lot. She admitted she didn’t know what to do with her hands while having her photo taken, pointing out how easy it is to make fun of actresses having a red-carpet pose.

“It was just crazy,” Harst said. “It’s kind of a surreal experience. … My husband took photos of me on the red carpet.”

Adding to the hyper-reality moment of an awards show, she saw a couple famous faces, actresses Sigourney Weaver and Rosario Dawson plus CNN commentator Van Jones. All three celebrities received Voice Arts awards.

Harst recorded her nominated demo in June 2017 in New York with fellow voice-over actor Joe Cipriano, who directed and coached her. AJ McKay handled the production, putting in the sound under Harst’s voice. 

Describing Cipriano as “the million-dollar voice of promos,” Harst met him during a conference several years ago. She said Cipriano was impressed when she “read for him” as workshop participants performed work that Cipriano had done.

“We just stayed in touch after that,” Harst said.

Cipriano submitted Harst’s demo for the nomination. 

“He was so happy about it and proud of it, that he wanted it (the nomination) under his name,” she said.


Career path

Harst shared what led her to earn her bachelor of arts in broadcasting communications from Baldwin Wallace University and eventually her career in doing voice-overs.

“When I was young, we used to watch ‘20/20’ every night as a family. I wanted to be the next Barbara Walters,” said the daughter of Robb and Janet, of Huron.

While pursuing her degree, Harst had summer internships each year. One of those was with MTV in New York. Harst had a light-bulb moment — one that happened three or four months before graduation.

“It was in that internship I decided I didn’t want to be in broadcasting,” she said. “It wasn’t appealing anymore.”

Realizing how hard it would be to get a broadcasting job in Cleveland and not wanting to work from “remote locations” on the way up, Harst turned to marketing and public relations.

“I was doing pretty well. On paper, I had a really good job,” she said.

The 2008 recession led to a layoff. Next, Harst turned her attention to voice-over work, something she had been doing on a part-time basis in Cleveland for about 10 years.

“Why not take my hobby full time?” she said.

In addition to voicing promos, Harst does commercials, corporate training videos, on-hold messages and medical narration. For three to four years, she said she was the “voice of the oncology training program.” To make sure actors pronounce words correctly, doctors and other medical professionals are in the recording studio.

“It’s very difficult to do medical voice-over work because it has a lot of industry jargon,” Harst said.

In addition, she played a waitress in the 2008 film “Smart People,” which starred Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Page. Harst, who heard of the role from one of her agents, auditioned for the part. She filmed her scenes at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

“Every once in a while I’m channel-surfing and bang — there it is,” her father said. “I’m very proud of her.”


World Series TV campaign

Even though Robb Harst admittedly isn’t much of a baseball fan, he regularly watched the recent World Series since his daughter voiced YouTube TV promotional spots for television and radio, plus some “in-picture promos.” She said the line “YouTube TV: Watch like a fan.”

“Did you watch the World Series? You probably heard me — a lot,” Christy Harst said. “I was the first female to voice the World Series YouTube TV campaign.”

Her father said he watched the games “even if I didn’t want to.”

“Obviously when your daughter is on, you watch every second,” he added.

Harst is proud of a title she will always have — being a Voice Arts Award nominee.

“It does go with me. … It’s given me a platform I wouldn’t have without being nominated,” she said. “It’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Without a doubt.”

For more information about Christy Harst, go to her website, chirstyharst.com.

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