Top News

Paradise native has found her voice

Leanne Osmond, who is originally from Paradise, has found a successful career as an online voice-over artist. — Submitted photo
Leanne Osmond, who is originally from Paradise, has found a successful career as an online voice-over artist. — Submitted photo

Leanne Osmond is making a lucrative living as a voice-over artist

Leanne Osmond was enjoying a successful career as a young journalist in the radio broadcast industry. In just a few years of living in Fort McMurray, the Paradise native had made her way from receptionist, all the way to the morning show host. But despite her thriving radio career, Osmond decided to take a risk, and go all in with her most valuable asset: her voice.

“When it comes to your voice, you get what you get,” she says. “You don’t really get much say with the voice that you have. I guess I hit the genetic lottery.”
After several years of being on the radio, Osmond had received a fair share of praise for her strong voice. When she and her fiancé decided to move out of Fort McMurray for Red Deer, Alta., rather than finding a new radio gig, Osmond decided she would freelance full time, offering voice-over work to online content creators.

“Solid female voices are hard to come by. And I never really considered it before. ...When you think of the really iconic voices out there, most of what you’d think about are men.”

Osmond had started doing voice-over work as a side gig while working for the radio station in Fort McMurray. She found clients on a site called Fiverr, and was surprised by the number of companies looking for a voice like hers.

She had simply posted an audio sample of her voice online, including the different accents and tones she could carry.

“In a matter of days, I was waking up each morning with four or five new orders from people all over the world, looking for me to read scripts,” she recalled.

“That’s why I want to ride this wave of anonymity as long as I can, because the idea of being harassed online, day in and day out, it’s not really for me.”

“I’m lucky in a sense that I never had to go searching for jobs or have to go bidding on scripts. I could just put out my demo and wait for people to come to me.”

In the three years since she put her voice on Fiverr, Osmond has done 2,500 to 3,000 jobs for various clients, mostly through her business name, Sparrow Nest studios.

Some of her regular clients cater to a massive audience. She records voice-overs almost daily for a YouTube channel with nearly two million subscribers.

The 28-year-old has also done several videos a YouTube channel that specializes in producing countdown lists, which has more than 500,000 subscribers.

She’s asked that the names of the channels not be mentioned in order to help protect her online anonymity.

Leanne Osmond is trying her hand at different accents as a voice-over artist. She does work for online clients across the world.
Leanne Osmond is trying her hand at different accents as a voice-over artist. She does work for online clients across the world.

She recently landed a role as a detective in “Five Nights at Freddy’s SL: The Animated Movie,” based on the popular horror video game series. The movie is uploaded to YouTube, where it currently has more than three million views.

“I didn’t even realize what a huge following it had,” Osmond said. “When I got the script, I didn’t even know what it was.

“I had a weird moment where my niece was watching the movie with her friends and she sent me a picture of my name across the screen as the credits were scrolling. And she said, ‘No way! That was you?’ So that was like the cool celebrity moment that I had.”

A dark side

Although Osmond has had a successful and lucrative career because of YouTube and other internet outlets, there’s also a downside to having your work publicized online; people often hide behind their anonymity to offer criticism or make crude remarks in the comments section.

“People can say all kinds of stuff, and they do. ... They say great things, but they also say horrible things,” said Osmond. “Some people say I sound like a porn star and I sound raunchy... and I’ve had others say they’d like to rape and murder me.

“That’s why I want to ride this wave of anonymity as long as I can, because the idea of being harassed online, day in and day out, it’s not really for me.”

Osmond says she has grown a thick skin since her voice was first featured on the internet. And she acknowledges that, along with the negative, she receives encouraging messages.

“It’s a very wide spectrum of reactions. But I do have others saying they love listening to me every day and I play a big part in their lives.”

Over the last few years, Osmond knows she could have made more money than she’s already earned, because there are clients she chose to reject. There has been no shortage of scripts sent to her that were either too poorly written, or too bizarre for her to record.

“There are creepy people who try to order very explicit material, that I’ve had to say no to,” she said.

“Some of the scripts are really weird fetishes or fantasy stories. I’ve even had people request me to do (sexually explicit instructions),” Osmond said with a laugh.

Sometimes she’ll get a script from another country that’s written in English that is so fractured, she worries it’ll ruin her studio’s reputation if she accepts the job.

“They want me to read it as is, because they don’t want to have to pay me to edit the script for them,” she explained. “So, I refuse to do those kinds of orders. My voice and my name are my reputation, so I’m not going to give my voice or my name to a project that’s going to sound bad in the end.”

A gift to last

Luckily for Osmond, she’s been able to find projects she’s proud to be part of. The one that resonates the most was a script she read for a baby’s baptism video. It was Osmond’s job to narrate a letter the mother had written for her newborn child.

“It was just a beautiful little package ... and being a part of this family’s story, being a part of a memory that they’re going to treasure forever. How many times, in the course of their lives, will they watch that video and hear my voice?

“I mean, that’s something really special. … it’s a surreal feeling, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a powerful feeling knowing that your voice is a part of something that family will cherish forever.”

The creator of that baptism video, Duminciuc Bogdan, said his clients were “really happy and thrilled” with Osmond’s vocal performance, and so was he.

“She really did the work fast and delivered very high audio quality,” said Bogdan. “She has a narrative voice; it’s all about the way I hear it. She has a beautiful voice.”

Osmond says she’s worked hard enough over the last three years to afford herself a routine. She usually does work for two or three clients a day, and starts early in the morning. She usually finishes her voice recordings by early afternoon.

It wasn’t always such a set routine, however. In the early days of her business, she was taking on as many clients as she could get. At one point she did up to 18 jobs in one day. Osmond says it was those long, hard, hours in the early stages that have given her time to breathe now.

“For a long time, I was working almost nonstop. Even when I wasn’t in my studio, I was on my phone, I was answering clients’ emails...”

An accent on the positive

As Osmond’s client base grew all over the world, so did her ability to use different accents and tones of voice. Certain clients, depending on their target audience, ask Osmond to speak a certain way, which is a challenge she has met with enthusiasm.

She’s developed half a dozen different tones, and has mastered French and British accents.

“I can fool British people sometimes,” says Osmond. “I’ve had clients in England who didn’t say mum about my accent being fake.”

Despite coming from a province known for its unique dialects, Osmond says her Newfoundland origins aren’t always obvious.

“It does come out from time to time, like when I get angry or I’m really excited. Or when I have a few drinks — that’s when you can hear the Newfie.”

Osmond is now hoping to nail down a new accent for a client from New Zealand. It’s one she finds particularly challenging.

“I accidentally slip into my British accent when I shouldn’t be,” she says with a laugh.

With the economy rapidly changing, Osmond has been able to tap into one of the many new ways anyone from anywhere can make money. She says all you need are two important things: an internet connection and a talent you can advertise.

“The beauty of it is, there are so many ways, so many different avenues you can take to make a little side cash online,” she said.

“Just ask: what am I good at that I can potentially profit from? And guaranteed there’s an avenue for you to pursue that on the internet.”

Recent Stories