The old one-dimensional female archetypes -- the soccer mom, the starving artist, the successful-but-lonely boss lady -- are dead. Women are creating new, multidimensional archetypes and defying stereotypes. The most fulfilled women are constantly creating in multiple areas of their lives, whereas burnout often happens when we feel like the routine of our day job is all we have time for. The Archetypal Woman Series is a tribute to inspiring women who rearrange time and space to explore and excel in a range of activities. May their stories encourage you to expand into your own uniqueness for the benefit of you and everyone in your orbit.
Editor's note: Even if you don't already know Carla, you have likely heard her voice. She has done voice-over work impersonating Julie Andrews, Sofía Vergara, Betty White, and many others. A thyroid condition led to the creation of her one-woman show, Voices. Hollywood can be a grind, but Carla doesn't take any of it for granted. ~ Mary Margaret
Carla! I am so happy I get to share your story, mostly because I am completely starstruck. When did you realize you had a talent for mimicking other voices, and that you could turn this into a career?
Sound has always been fascinating to me. As a kid, I used to try to sound like singers I heard on the radio. I think all children mimic what they see and hear. But I really learned I had a knack for impersonations when I was cast in Gerard Alessandrini's Forbidden Broadway, the long-running musical theater parody touted as "the SNL of Broadway”.
Every night the cast would sing and dance on stage as legendary greats like Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Carol Channing, Barbra Streisand and dozens more! I had a friend in the voice-over business who saw the show and told me he thought I’d be a good fit for voice-over work. I’ve been working ever since!
I finally get to see your one-woman show, Voices, on March 28th. (Join me--buy your
tickets here!) What inspired you to write this?
In 2015, I was diagnosed with a thyroid deficiency called Hashimoto's Syndrome and became interested in the connection between my own mind, body and spirit. I was surprised to learn how many women in America are affected by thyroid conditions. Ironically, the thyroid is found in the throat and can directly affect the voice.
I couldn't help but wonder if there was a connection to thyroid deficiency and the way women communicate...or don't communicate. It led me to ask the question: are women speaking their truth? I have a line in my show that states, “The body is a sophisticated messenger, it tries at every turn to speak its truth. And if you ignore that truth, if you stuff it down…it can give you the flu!”
In the show, I play over 35 different characters, including my head, my heart, and my snotty respiratory system. As a voice-over artist, I have the unique ability to morph my voice into different sounds so I thought it would be really fun to give voice to all the different body parts that
were trying to talk to me! I used my own comedic journey of learning how to pay attention to my body’s subtle and not-so-subtle messages, which gave me a fun framework for the show.
What themes does Voices explore?
I often say that Voices is a comedy about a voice-over artist discovering her own voice! The show explores themes of self-worth and self-empowerment, listening to the voice of your intuition and trusting that voice.
Was it therapeutic for you to write Voices? Did you experience an actual improvement in
your physical health?
Writing Voices was like discovering I had a magical unicorn inside of me all along! I really allowed my inner child to come out and PLAY when I wrote this. It was very therapeutic. My husband jokes that the show gives me strength equivalent to what the sun gives Superman. There is something called Narrative Medicine, which is essentially storytelling as a form of medicine. I think it’s very powerful to express the art inside of us!
You’ve worked in Hollywood for years. Outside of the industry, we often view rising stars
as overnight success stories. The reality is most successful actors and entertainers work for years before a big break. In the early years, what kept you motivated to keep going despite the inevitable rejections and setbacks?
You know, I think I’m kind of lucky in a way because I’ve always had a ton of gratitude for just being able to be a part of the entertainment industry. I’m originally from Pittsburgh, PA. My father is a retired steel worker and my grandfather was a coal miner. I’m from the most blue-collar
background. It’s definitely not lost on me how absolutely amazing it is that I get to live in
Hollywood and play make-believe for a living! That gratitude has carried me a long way.
As a performance artist, I imagine you also have to be a shrewd businesswoman. What
have you learned about being the CEO of your own career in an industry with a lot of uncertainty?
CONFIDENCE, BABY! Projecting outward confidence can get you surprisingly very far. I work in a lot of collaborative environments where everyone is pitching ideas so I’ve had to learn how to fight for an idea when I believe in it. In the beginning, though, it was as simple as learning how to become a successful freelancer, which meant setting a schedule and being disciplined enough to meet that schedule everyday.
You are also a prolific writer, and you always have several ideas in the works. What is your creative process? How do you stay motivated and on task without specific deadlines set by someone else?
I had a teacher who once said there were two kinds of writers: binge writers and vitamin writers. She said “You want to be a vitamin writer”, meaning you want to sit down every day and write for at least a few minutes. That’s been great advice for me!
The creative process is a bit like taking a hunk of unshaped clay and molding it. It’s kind of messy, you don’t always know where it’s going,but the key thing is to just start. Once you start, the rest begins to take form. I wake up everyday and I think, “Ok, just start.”
Oh, and don’t edit. There is a time and a place for constructive criticism, but when I start a project, I need to follow my gut first, allow my imagination to play, then I go back with a finer eye and clean it up.
What other stories are you excited to tell in the future?
Currently, I’m working on a new one-woman show about MONEY! Money is an energy with so much power and weight around it. I’m interested in exploring how our self-worth equals our net worth.
Carla Delaney is an LA-based actress, writer and voice-over talent who has featured in film, television, animation, video games and commercials everywhere; most notably on Family Guy, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, New Looney Toons, Our Cartoon President, and Captain Marvel. Her award-winning one-woman show Voices tours the country and will close out the largest solo festival on the west coast this March 28th. For more information please visit www.voicesbycarla.weebly.com
You can follow Carla on Facebook and Instagram @voicesbycarla.
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