What is your name, age, and location?
Jeannie Johnson, 48, Camp Springs, MD.
What is your profession?
Voiceover Artist, Singer, Writer-Producer-Editor, International Aqua Aerobics Presenter & Instructor.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
B.A in Communication: Radio/TV Production.
What was your first job?
Administrative & Production Assistant at the BET News Department.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
Believe it or not, it was the singer/actress Stephanie Mills when I saw her in The Wiz on Broadway in 1st grade.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
I have to say the most rewarding moment was back in October 2010 when I was the “Voice of God” announcer for the Susan G. Komen Fundraising Gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. I got to meet two real life inspirations: Robin Roberts, the event’s emcee, and Stephanie Mills, the person who inspired me to go into my current line of work and was the show’s finale talent. I got to add my voice, literally, to an event that helped raise awareness and money for women with cancer, a disease which has recently struck my family.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
When I started doing radio imaging in the early 1990s it was a very male dominated field, so men didn’t see me as a threat or major competition, and many of them shared so much information on the equipment I would need for a recording studio. They talked me up to folks they already had contracts with and I wound up as an accent voice talent with them on several radio stations across the country. The liaisons/copywriters found that they liked my voice and working with me and I was given an opportunity to be the solo imaging voice on several other stations that they handled… even on Brian McKnight’s short lived, syndicated, nighttime radio show! It has been and continues to be quiet an experience and I would not have been able to do it without those guys that decided to extend a hand and share so much information.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
When I first started in voiceovers I thought I could ask the same questions of more experienced women as I had with men, but initially that was not the case. I got vague, non-committal, dismissive answers from a couple women that I really looked up to. I was surprised by the lack of help and support from other women in the field. I decided later that when other women ask me the same questions about how to get started, I would not treat them like I was treated. It’s hard sometimes but I’ve learned that there’s enough work out there for all of us. If one job goes to someone else, then maybe that wasn’t the best thing for me for whatever reason and I trust that something else better will come along that I am meant to do.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
Deborah Tang was my first boss, role model, and mentor in the news department at BET in 1987. She has since passed away, but she saw that I was really passionate about TV and the entertainment side of the business. She encouraged me to follow that passion when an opening came up ten months later in Creative Services at the same network. The rest is history!
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
Indulge in what you are passionate about and then it won’t feel like work or just a job. You will always be excited about what you do and want to share it and will inspire others. Your passion on your chosen path will not ever allow you to give up on your dream.
– Interview by Eve Richer