Welcome to today’s interview with Iya Magazine! We have the pleasure of introducing a talented and versatile voiceover artiste who captivates audiences with her incredible linguistic abilities and diverse range of accents. This remarkable artist has breathed life into countless characters and is here to share her journey with us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as we delve into the world of voiceover acting.
RACHEL Omodolapo Oladejo, a Nigerian voiceover actress, was born in Kaduna and hails from Oyo State.
What was family and upbringing like?
I am the first daughter in my family, and I have two siblings. My late father served as a Naval officer and Head of Mathematics at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna; while my mother is a successful businesswoman. I had a unique upbringing that can be described as a mix of strictness and liberal values. My father was an educator and a disciplinarian. He would give us homework, even during the holidays; while my mother was liberal and business-oriented. Childhood memories of climbing trees and exploring the world around me were my fondest memories.
Who was your earliest influence as a child?
Without a doubt, it was my dad. Being his first daughter, he loved me dearly, and we shared a special bond. I would get books and read to him as a child. He taught me a lot and nursed my passion for reading, languages, and learning. He also instilled in me the core values of honesty and hard work.
Which schools did you attend?
I started my primary education at Hakda International School, Kaduna. When it was time for secondary school, my mother decided that we should move to Ibadan, Oyo State, so we could learn our native Yoruba language. I attended Lifeforte International High School in Ibadan, where my maternal grandmother, with whom we stayed, taught me how to speak Yoruba.
I can perform in several languages and switch from one character to another seamlessly
Initially, I had difficulty making friends at my new school because others felt I was different. I got bullied a few times. However, when I stood up for myself, they stopped teasing me. After completing my ‘O’ Level examinations, I pursued higher education at Eastern Mediterranean University in Magusa, KKTC, Cyprus, and later at Near East University in Nicosia, KKTC, Cyprus. I obtained a BSc in Economics and graduated among the top of my class.
What were your career dreams as a child?
As I was growing up, my initial career aspirations were, variously, to become a singer, an economist, or a medical doctor. Eventually, I chose to pursue economics in the university and later on, I discovered that life had a different plan for me.
Tell us about your voiceover career
After completing my National Youth Service at NNPC Abuja, I had an epiphany about the uniqueness and versatility of my voice. I could switch effortlessly between accents. One of the turning points in my journey was in 2010, when someone offered me a significant sum of money after a product advert. At first, I couldn’t believe that I could make money from just speaking. I expressed my desire to attend a Voiceover Academy to my father, and he supported the idea wholeheartedly.
So, after completing various courses and training, I embarked on a career in voiceover acting. I can now perform in several languages and switch from one character to another seamlessly. That experience made me realize the potential of building a career with my voice.
I receive requests from all over the world to portray different characters for animation projects and e-learning
How has your voiceover career been so far?
Honestly, it has been a rewarding experience. Initially, it was challenging to find clients who needed my services, but with advancements in technology, the demand for voiceover artistes has increased significantly. Today, I receive requests from people all over the world to portray different characters for animation projects and e-learning. I anchor live events, record product advertisements, and narrate audio books and video games.
I can effortlessly switch from Indian accent to American accent in the blink of an eye. For video games and other computer games, I am able to provide multiple voices. You might hear my voice on an aeroplane before takeoff, at an event entertaining the crowd, or when you call your bank’s customer service. My voice travels all over the world, even when I am sleeping.
What challenges do you face as a voiceover artist?
I have to regularly warm up my vocal cords and avoid consuming oily foods, cold drinks, or straining my voice by shouting. You could say I am an actress, because to embody various characters, I need to feel those emotions, project them, and stay in character to deliver the best performance. People may assume it was effortless upon seeing the final project, but behind the scenes, there is a lot of hard work, retakes, and practice.
Another challenge I encounter is being underpaid by some clients who don’t fully appreciate the value of my services. It can take up to two months or more to record an audio book of 200 pages with different characters, but for simpler readings, it may not take as long.
I can effortlessly switch from Indian accent to American accent in the blink of an eye
The unstable electricity in Nigeria is another challenge. The sounds and vibrations of generators often disturb my work, as they get picked up by the microphone and may be harder to clean out. This happens if I am recording at home, but it is always better whenever I am working in a professionally soundproofed studio.
What are the most fulfilling moments in your career?
The most fulfilling moments come when clients are excited and satisfied with the completed project. Their appreciation reaffirms the value of my work. Most of all, when I hear my voice on the airwaves, I feel bubbly inside.
Do you have support for your career aspirations?
Yes, I am fortunate to receive full support from my family members. My father, in particular, encouraged me and provided financial assistance when I started this business. He had always admired my voice, so he was thrilled when I decided to utilise it. Sadly, he is late now.
I also have mentors in the Voiceover, Media and Entertainment businesses with whom I rub minds, and we have a tribe where we groom and support one another.
How do you relax when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, I love singing, dancing, reading, and boxing. Additionally, whenever life’s journey becomes overwhelming, I connect to Mother Nature through grounding, which means I meditate while walking barefoot.
If you had the opportunity to meet a public figure, who would you choose?
Haha! I have a long list of people I would love to meet, but I will pick two. In the male category, it would be [American actor] Robert Downey Jr., and in the female category, I greatly admire [American singer] Beyonce. I would be thrilled to meet and work with them.
What advice do you have for people out there?
My advice is not to compare yourself to others or feel pressured to conform to society’s ideals. Remember that your journey is unique, and the path to self-discovery is different for everyone. Embrace your quirks, individuality, and passions. Your true self is beautiful, powerful, and capable of achieving greatness.
One of my favourite quotes is, ‘It is either a thousand percent or nothing.’ So, I urge you to give it your all, add your own shine, and enjoy the ride! The world eagerly awaits the magic that only you can bring.