Chicago voice-over actor and romance novelist Ruth Kaufman is 'the most rejected person in America' | Bleader

Chicago voice-over actor and romance novelist Ruth Kaufman is 'the most rejected person in America'

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  • Elly Tier

A first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford.

"I always wanted to be an actor, but in the house I grew up in, you could be a doctor or a lawyer, or you could own your own business. My dad told me I was smart but that I didn’t have the talent to succeed as an actor. At the time, I didn’t know how many acting opportunities there were beyond the stage. Do I have the talent to be Ophelia on Broadway? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do narration or be in commercials or film.

"So I went to law school, and afterward I was a law firm account manager for 13 years. Finally, I realized my life was half over, and I decided to adopt the motto 'Someday is now.' So I quit my job to act and write full-time. I don’t know how to put this in a way that doesn’t sound harsh, but my dad was already dead, and the rest of my family was fine with it.

"I have a Jimmy John’s commercial running right now in which I play an undateable librarian. I do some webseries, some short films, and some indie features. I do auditions mostly for commercials, but there’s also a lot of corporate narration, especially now with all the health care stuff. So many companies want someone who can say 'We’re so glad you work here! Here are your new benefits come November 1!'

"I do a lot of medical narration, which is a very specific branch of voice-over, because not everybody can say the words you need to say without stumbling. I do explainer videos for consumers, like 'Press the plunger down to release the medicine,' and I also do technical e-learning courses. I have one client who has me do on-hold messages.

"There are things that I can’t do as much if I know I have voice-over work coming up. I can’t go to loud parties. Well, I can go, but I can’t talk, and that’s no fun. Because that does strain your voice. If I get a cold, I’m in trouble. People try tea, but not talking is the answer.

"What’s my favorite kind of work? Whatever pays. I do some freelance journalism for a couple of publications from time to time, and I also write romance novels. I am self-publishing two versions of the same romance novel in January. I believe it’s the first time this has ever been done. It’s called At His Command, and one version is an inspirational romance with a faith element and no physical stuff, and the other version has actual love scenes and no faith element.

"It feels good and bad to be out of corporate America. The good is that you get to pursue all the different things you want to do. The bad would be no paid vacation, no paid health insurance, no paid holidays, and no structure. And on any given day I could be rejected by a casting director, a talent agent, a client, an editor . . . It just never ends. I do believe I am the most rejected person in America."

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