Trini finds his Waze (September 4, 2016)

If you use Waze by Google and have access to the Waze Coach function, listen out for a familiar accent. One of the voice actors hired to voice this function, which was developed as part of Olympic celebrations, is T&T’s Steven Edwards, Executive Chairman of Steven Edwards Productions.

According to Waze, “The Coach” was designed to make the user feel like an “all-star athlete.” Edwards said he was invited to audition to voice the app through his agent, and he was chosen from among many international voice actors who would have auditioned for the job. He was then asked to record phrases to be used in the app, such as “left turn,” “right turn in 200 metres,” and “hazard ahead.” In addition, the Coach app included phrases like “Play by the rules” and “A lifetime of preparation for just this drive.” Edwards said “you basically have to be a coach to the person who’ll be driving, so you have to have an inspirational tone, as well as the authority required for the other phrases, so it all depends on what the phrase is and what you’re talking about at the time.”

Edwards said he was able to record the phrases in a local studio and send the file to the company, according to their specifications. “You don’t have to travel to do anything and it just goes to show that we could stay here in Trinidad and make a living internationally.”

He said as far as he knows, the Waze Coach function is not yet available in T&T, and he expects his voice will be used in the European region, where people are accustomed to non-US accents. Edwards said he deliberately chose to keep his Trinidadian accent as he was going through voice training, as he didn’t want to lose that uniqueness, even though he wanted international appeal. Now that he has broken into that market, he said he’s looking forward to working a lot internationally. “It’s just really cool to be able to take what is uniquely you and compete at an international level with it.”

Edwards said voice artistry is not the same as voicing ads an he is offering classes for people who might be interested in entering the field. “There’s a lot of opportunity in voice acting and voice over, as a voice over artist. You can do it locally, but there’s a lot of international opportunity that wasn’t available 10, 20 years ago, especially in areas outside the US that are looking for non-US accents. Now you could just go to any studio and once they’re able to record according to the requirements of your supplier, you could stay in Trinidad and send the voice work across. I do work for audio books and animated characters, it’s not just commercials. Once you have the proper training, the sky is the limit.”

The training costs US$200 for a six-week period. For more information, call 288-0361, find Steven Edwards Production Academy on Facebook or email rayvenbusinesses@gmail.com.

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