Youth Impact Report 2010: Primo Percenters

In the search for the next big thing, CESD’s Melissa Berger Brennan has discovered a hidden goldmine: the youth voiceover market.

The agent finds that when kids are successful at voice work, it can be a launching pad to on-camera stardom. In fact, Berger Brennan sent Taylor Lautner, Josh Hutcherson and Madison Pettis on the auditions that led to their first acting jobs.

“It’s very competitive,” she says. “It’s not just about a young actor having a cute voice; they have to have the chops behind it.”

Identifying which young actors can make magic on the mic is a skill that Berger Brennan attributes to her MFA in acting from CalArts. She feels her experience as an actor gives her not only empathy but also an eye and an instinct.

As for getting her clients their big break, that she attributes to persistence. “I’m a little bit of a gerbil, I’m always on the wheel,” she says.

For example, she worked during her honeymoon to get then-unknown client Mae Whitman, now on “Parenthood,” the highly sought-after job as the voice of Tinker Bell. “They were looking for a celebrity and then found Mae,” Berger Brennan says. “She’s feisty and a bit of a rebel.”

Berger Brennan says she listens carefully to what the client wants and then finds a creative solution. “One of the first bookings I had was the voice of a robot in an animated series, and I threw in a 9-year-old boy. They said, ‘We never even thought of that.’ He worked until his voice changed.”

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