Cedering Fox is one of the most nationally recognized voices on television. You’ll recognize her voice from promotional spots for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and many cable networks including CNN, HGTV, EPSN, LIFETIME, REELZ, etc.
You have heard Cedering as the on-air announcer for nationally broadcast live awards shows like The Oscars and The People’s Choice Awards, the Democratic National Convention, as well as many award winning documentaries, countless national commercial advertising and political campaigns. In addition, she voices numerous local affiliate stations including WBBM in Chicago, KTRK in Houston and TMJ4 in Milwaukee. She had the honor of announcing the Governors Awards and Producers Guild Awards and she regularly donates her voice to organizations such as The United Way, PANCAN and Liberty Hill Foundation. Cedering is the Founder and Artistic Director of WordTheatre, a literary salon operating in Los Angeles, New York and London, where she directs top film, television and theatre actors in live performances of short stories. One of 350 artists honored for artistic excellence, Cedering was anonymously nominated for the United States Artists Fellowship. She is also featured in the book, Secrets of Voice-over Success: Top Actors Reveal How They Did It.
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Excerpt from Secrets of Voice-Over Success
Somewhere between seeing Ethel Merman perform Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway and getting Julie Harris to sign my autograph book after her reading of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, I was bitten by the acting/directing/producing bug. Between the ages of seven and ten, I enjoyed an early career as New York’s most influential backyard theater producer. I employed most of the children who lived on Lakeshore Drive in Massapequa Park. The pay was Kool-Aid and Swedish Oatmeal cookies, but no one seemed to mind. A couple of great trees held up curtains, and I performed a rendition of "Edelweiss" that was so somber and basso it still has my parents laughing. By eleven, I was playing Tiger Brown in Three Penny Opera at my all girls Performing Arts Camp, the second of many male and old lady roles: "They’ll chop’em to bits because they like their hamburgers raw!" Junior High Chorus members suffered through my singing tenor with the boys and my fellow high school thespians waited in excruciating anticipation hoping against all odds that I’d be able to hit the high notes in "You’ll Never Walk Alone." Those Gs above middle C were absolutely terrifying!</p><p>My voice was always low. The family joke has it that, as a two year old, I would walk into a room and say "hello," and everyone would look around for the person who should embody that sound’say, Marlene Deitrich. They were shocked to find me. My voice was an asset and a liability. I didn’t get many ingÌ©nue roles, but I was determined to pursue my dreams of Broadway stardom. With an M.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Acting Program I hit the streets of Manhattan. I landed in a play at famed experimental theatre La Mama, garnering a rave review on the back page of The New York Times, but I couldn’t live on the $125 dollars a week I was being paid. How do you have an acting career and make a living? I sold subscriptions at the Philharmonic and served cocktails at the New York Hilton until the nine hour shifts nearly killed me. Here I was being PAID to act and I couldn’t survive on what I was making.</p><p>All through my arts training, the message had been loud and clear: "DON’T sell out! DON’T prostitute yourself! You are an ARTIST!" Well, call me whatever, but it was clear I needed to make a buck. I went to visit my mother and a miracle occurred. She had a party and her neighbor, Eric Weber, who just happened to be the Vice Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, stopped by. "Where did you get that voice?" he asked over the guacamole.</p><p>"I was born with it," I replied, shoveling a large scoop of the chunky, green stuff into my mouth.</p><p>"You should be doing voice-over," he observed.</p><p>"Where do I sign up?" I asked, trying not to drool.</p><p>Eric invited me to come to his office to "lay down some copy." I had no idea what that meant, but as long as I didn’t have to lay down with him, it sounded fine. Before I went, I ran to meet with voice-over coach. Joan Bogden. At my consultation, she said that if she’d had my voice and her experience she’d be very rich. Joan gave me incredible tips on how to break down a script, analyze copy, and make it my own. More remarkably, she told me to pay her when I made some money.</p><p>I headed over to Saatchi & Saatchi, and Eric brought me down to a beautiful studio. I met the engineer who was instructed to pull the voices off some finished spots and replace them with mine. Their casting director told me I was a natural, and she gave me the names of four agents to call. Her name opened doors, and within days I was freelancing with all of them. I booked my sixth audition for a national commercial.</p><p>Back then the New York voice-over world was a very exclusive one. Because of the timbre of my voice, I was going around with a select group of much older women, many of whom were well known actresses. Auditions were held at the agencies, and we would be directed by the writers/producers of the spots. They got to hear your voice in take one, and they got to see how you took direction in take two. Then you could impress them with a brilliant third take inspired by their wonderful direction and your own unique genius! I met people like Paula Prentiss and Bob Balaban and started to feel a part of the community of actors who actually made money.</p><p>I made it onto Broadway around this time in a play that shall remain nameless. It wasn’t the happy experience I’d always dreamed of so I threw myself into political organizing and the development of new plays as an actress and director. None of these paid anything worth counting, but I didn’t care because I was going out on voice-over auditions and, amazingly, earning enough to support myself.</p><p>During a trip to check out Los Angeles, one of my AT&T spots came on while I was visiting a friend. His brother-in-law heard it and recommended me to a top agent who offered to sign me. I’m no fool. I packed up and moved west.</p><p>The Los Angeles market is very different from New York. All the auditions are done in the agent’s office. I was the new kid again, back at the bottom of the totem pole. I got feedback from the booth director, but no producer was there to see how well I took direction or how brilliant I could be. I couldn’t book a job. Then someone told me the producers might not even be listening to my auditions because they fast forward to the people they know and skip over the people they don’t.</p><p>Finally, I was hired to do a promo for ABC Eyewitness News. The producer told me I had the perfect promo voice’one with all the authority of a man but the warmth of a woman. I was very excited. Nothing came of it.</p><p>After a year, I moved agents to work with Marcia Hurwitz at a boutique agency. I told her what the producer at Eyewitness News had said. Before I knew it, I was chosen out of two hundred mostly male submissions to fill in for the staff announcer at local independent station KCOP. After a few weeks of doing community service announcements and movie trailers’"Arnold Schwartzenegger’s got a big gun, and he knows how to use it. Raw Deal. Tonight at 8 on Channel 13!"’I had a promo reel. Marcia sent it to ABC Network.</p><p>I was called in to audition for an All My Children promo. I was nervous, which can be disastrous because the voice can’t hide fear. Everything you are thinking and feeling is amplified by the microphone. While waiting for the producer to arrive, I warmed up in the green room with yoga warrior positions and deep breathing. By the time I sat in front of the microphone I was focused. I listened carefully to the spot, dropped my voice into it as best I could, took some direction from the room producer, did it again, they played it back, I asked for another take, and when I left they seemed very happy. Later that evening, I got a call at home from the writer/producer. She loved what I had done with the spots and said that the crew liked me. "You’ll be working here a lot." I became the promo voice for all of ABC’s daytime soap opera promos. Then, a producer I’d worked with at KCOP moved to NBC. He called, and I started working there regularly. Somebody from NBC moved to CBS, and I was brought in to voice a few scripts. After four years working steadily at ABC, one of the engineers turned to me after a session and said, "You’ve just made network history. I’ve been here a long time, and this is the first time a woman has done everything the men do: promos for a morning talk show, a soap opera, a primetime show, and a late-night-in concert special."</p><p>Soon thereafter, I was invited to attend a gathering of announcers during AFTRA’s Network Code negotiations. The meeting had been called to protest the proposal put forth by the Network negotiators who wanted to roll back the per-spot promo rate to one-fifth of what we were being paid at the time. I walked into a room filled with men and met all of the "Voice of God" voices that I had grown up with: Ernie Anderson, Don La Fontaine, and Gary Owens, from Laugh In! I was one of two women in a room of seventy men. I suddenly realized that as a female announcer, what I was doing in promo had significance and meant more than just making cash. More importantly, I learned more about AFTRA, the union that has represented network announcers for many years.</p><p>As AFTRA’s staff and elected leadership fought for performers’ interests I started to understand why we have unions and just how important they are to performers. I witnessed AFTRA’s negotiators stave off a brutal assault on wages from our employers. As our union negotiators contemplated concessions, I spoke up. It turned out that my concerns were those of the minority. Unions represent not only their top earners but the little guys’or, in this case, gals. I was encouraged to let my voice be heard. My union service started at that moment. Since then, I have attended three Network Code negotiations, and I am now serving second terms on AFTRA’s national and local boards.</p><p>As a young actor, I never thought about the future. I never had to worry about doctors, and I certainly never contemplated retirement. But when my daughter was born at Santa Monica Hospital in 1998, AFTRA’s and SAG’s insurance paid every penny. Needless to say, that changed my perspective as every instinct started screaming, "Save for your daughter’s education, her future, and yours; you won’t want to be a burden." I encourage performers reading this book to take an active part of our unions. AFTRA and SAG have fought for decades to guarantee decent wages and working conditions, as well as pensions and health benefits. No corporation or independent producer would ever pay an actor proper wages if it wasn’t for our unions because the work we do is considered fun and easy. Most of us are willing to act on stage, in film, or in front of a microphone for nothing because it makes us feel good. Those who commit seriously to a career in this industry know the work can be difficult, demanding and dreadfully dull. Performers, like dock workers, are laborers. We deserve to work in a safe environment and to be compensated fairly. As cable television has blossomed, there has been a tremendous rise in the amount of non-union work available to performers. It is difficult to turn down work that pays any kind of money, but think carefully before you take that non-union job. Your employers might buyout your performance today for a fee that seems like a nice chunk of change, but how will you feel when they use that spot or film clip over and over and over and make a lot of money and never share any of it? If they don’t pay you on time or don’t pay you at all, do you have the money to hire a lawyer and sue them? Our unions handle all sorts of situations like that. They have set the rates in every aspect of performing. Non-union employers know what those rates are and negotiate down. If employers can get talented people to work non-union, what incentive do employers have to pay residuals or health and retirement benefits?</p><p>Many years ago I gave up acting and chose to focus on voice-overs because I had a hunch they’d support my labors of love. I have learned to run my career like any small business. I incorporated; I got a great accountant who taught me to be organized about tracking and managing my earnings; I learned the details of the AFTRA and SAG contracts that I work; and I learned to let my agents play good cop/bad cop if producers are taking advantage of my time. My job is to show up on time and to be talented and charming. Sometimes that means making small talk, and sometimes it means just getting the job done.</p><p>Advanced technology has brought many changes to the way casting is being done and voice-overs are being delivered. I was a techno-phobe when I put in my home studio six years ago; now I advise the techies. While I love the freedom and don’t miss spending all my time on Los Angeles freeways, I worry about the dangers of isolation in this increasingly virtual world. Voice-over work is very intimate. I have flown to meet major clients because it breaks down that virtual wall and contributes to the quality of the work in the long run. If a face-to-face meeting is impossible, I try to bond over the phone. I enjoy being the good news, the one who delivers exactly what they need very quickly. I love the specificity that voice-overs demand and the Zen-like concentration required to be completely present in the moment.</p><p>Since 9-11, there has been a reversal of the gains made with regard to the presence of women’s voices on the networks. The fact that there are no primetime entertainment shows currently being voiced by women isn’t something that people really pay much attention to, but it’s my livelihood and I have my daughter to think about. If the "Voice of God" is male in America, then the male voice is the voice of authority. In the United Kingdom, there are more women than men voicing promos. A female producer I worked with from BBC America told me that the airwaves there are dominated by women 55 percent to 45 percent. Interesting. I’d love to see a study on how that affects people subliminally. All that being said, voice-over has afforded me a fantastic life of self-expression. Whether I am directing, producing, or reading a line of copy, I love my work and the people I work with, including most of those "Voice of God" men whose interests I fight for. By bring your true self into the world by educating your mind and using your voice. This is where your personal power lies. When individuals express themselves articulately, people listen. Tell your stories every day in every way you can because there is nobody like you. Knowing there are stories to be told gets me out of bed in the morning. If I lost my ability to speak; I would find every other way to communicate for I would like to be remembered as a storyteller. I feel especially grateful that this career allows me the time to be a mom and to pursue this dream. I hope that each of you will find your voice and follow your own.