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Published:December 22nd, 2009 16:53 EST
The Love Joan Baker and Will Smith, Voice Over Queen!

Chase Von Interviews The Lovely And Multi Talented Joan Baker!

By Chase Von (Editor/Mentor)

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Chase Von: Hey Joan and talk about the entire package!  You are beautiful; you`re an accomplished business woman.  You love sports and you are also athletic and you are as comfortable in front of a camera as you are behind a microphone.  Plus your accomplishments are incredible but we`ll get to all of that! 

So on behalf of myself and The Student Operated Press, thanks so much for finding the time to share yourself with our readers and they wouldn`t know this if I didn`t share it, but you`re by your own choice, on a six day work schedule and still squeezing this in!    

Joan:  It`s my pleasure Chase. Athleticism extends through all aspects of life and that includes making time for fun stuff like this.

Chase Von:  Just from reading up on you a bit, I`m amazed!  I`ve totally enjoyed learning more about you and I know that I`ve only scratched the surface but the one thing that comes through in everything I`ve seen and read is your wonderful personality! 

Joan: Oh, please stop, (don`t) stop! (Smile).

Chase Von:  You have this down to earth aura about you that really resonates with me, and I`m sure must resonate with all the others that come in contact with you!  How different are you now, from the way you were as a child of say 8 or 9 years of age?  (I use that age because that`s my daughter`s age and it is really much easier to see now, her personality taking shape).

And do you believe as I`ve read before, that our basic personalities are formed around that period, and then we just build on it?  And also, can you tell us about your younger years and who was most influential in your opinion, of blessing you with such an incredibly positive and loving outlook on life? 

Joan:  I think I`m very much like my personality of 8 or 9 years of age. I`d say the essence of my sensibilities was formed by then and I was on an inevitable path to become the more fully developed personality that I am now. For the most part I get a lot of positive feedback on my personality. It`s one of the few things I don`t really have to think about. I love, love, love people and when I`m with them I can`t help but engage and take an interest in what they do and how they arrived at where they are in life. I also don`t mind sharing intimate truths about my own life, which I think gives each person the permission to open up.

I think the bulk of one`s personality is definitely formed at a young age but I also believe that there`s plenty of room to cultivate one`s personality through self-investigation and a desire to evolve one`s life and spirit. We all have our issues to bear, personality and otherwise, but that doesn`t mean we`re stuck with it. Clearly, we can take action to transform that which we don`t appreciate about ourselves, especially if it negatively impacts others, but there are also good things that we can elevate to higher plains and that`s as much an opportunity as fixing whatever we think is broken.

Chase Von:  Like my boss and mentor here Judyth Piazza, you are really going after your dreams!  I`m pretty sure she won`t mind me sharing this, but she always wanted to be a reporter but didn`t pursue it until much later in life after a failed marriage.  Since then she has created the Student Operated Press and is blazing trails each day like you, in what she feels she was born to do!  So she`s a business owner and it isn`t uncommon for her to work schedules like you yourself do also. 

But the reason I bring this up is, she says all the time, when you`re doing what you love, it isn`t work.  It`s something you can`t wait to get back to!  Is that also your perspective?  And why you are able to keep such long hours acting, doing voice over`s and coaching others in your craft which it is safe to say, you`re at the top of the class in? 

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Joan Baker  endorsing Neumann USA World Class microphones.  For more information do visit their website:  http://www.neumannusa.com/

Joan:  Doing what you love is an interesting idea. I can`t say that I always love what I do, to be honest, but I am totally committed to doing it at the highest level I can. What often motivates me is the goal of delivering a voiceover performance that does everything my client`s desires. When I work with students, it`s their goals and dreams that I focus on, which means I dig deep within myself to bring 100% of my ability to the teacher/student experience. I guess what I`m saying is that my love is more for doing my best than it is doing my best at a particular thing. For example, I love the kind of challenges, interaction and admiration that comes from being a performer, but most of the work of being a performer is practice, marketing, networking, auditioning and, of course, hearing lots of saying no " on your way to hearing yes. " There`s also the business side of being a performer, which is quite a slippery slope. I don`t love all these very real aspects of being a performer and yet they represent the majority of the doing.  If you want to be successful, you have to access a personal appreciation for more than just the stuff you love.

Also I have another question that comes to me because of your interview with Maureen Anderson, but before I ask that, do you think it`s ever too late for someone to pursue their dreams?

Joan:  Arriving at Mount Everest is probably the least exciting part of the journey to get there. If you measure your dreams only by achieving a certain end result, you may find yourself trying to calculate when it`s time to give up your dream due to age or degree of difficulty or negative feedback from others. If instead you focus on the process " that is the task of climbing the mountain, and if the process is the part you love, you will see that there is never a time to give up on your dreams.

Chase Von:  One of the reason`s I asked that last question Joan is in your interview with Maureen Anderson, of the popular radio show, The Career Clinic, you guys touched on something I feel really passionate about, and as you`ll remember I`m sure, I also shared something with you I had written on the subject from my book years before I heard you two addressing it.

But again, it struck a nerve.  You were speaking about how as children, we believe in the impossible, then we become adults and the dreams we had as children have been all but squashed out of us in most cases.  But what got me is that you both were saying to become a real Adult " you had to get back to the mind set of the Child " and go for your dreams!  I could write novels on it myself because I think most adults are hating life! 

And doing something they don`t enjoy but convincing themselves that they have to do it because it is the Adult " thing to do.  Can you give our readers your philosophy on that?  And why you also think, so many people give up on their dreams and settle and why they shouldn`t?

 

Joan:  I wish I could give you a definitive answer that would free every reader to go for their wildest dreams with complete abandon. The fact of the matter is that we each have to start from where we are emotionally and intellectually as individuals. Looking at the behavior of children will offer incredible insight, especially when it comes to the unbridled enthusiasm. That kind of enthusiasm can have you leaping over tall buildings before you realize it`s supposed to be a hard thing to do. Obviously, this kind of inner excitement doesn`t just happen because you happen to have a certain result in mind. As adults we have to reach out for help and make time to reopen the windows to our youthful souls. Prayer, meditation, healthy living, giving back and honesty are some of the practices I believe will help anyone get to where they want to be. And honesty includes one`s self as much as it does others. Hundreds of great thinkers over the centuries have pointed to the innocence of children as an access point for adults to reconnect with their most creative selves. In some ways, this reconnecting is a means for reinvention and transformation or even reincarnation.

Chase Von:  Wonderful answer Joan and I couldn`t agree more!  Unless you believe in reincarnation we only have one life to live! 

Personally I think people have to add at least an extra hour to their days and make that ME time.  More if circumstances permit or less if that`s the case but some time where they do what they really feel they were meant to do!  And even if it doesn`t pan out into something like stardom or wealth, they are still not neglecting that inner child that loves something and believes, and that part of themselves that knows there is more to them than their nine to five or what have you. 

Might not happen in every case, but they are still doing what they love and who knows?  Then they might be able to transition to it full time!

Now something I had to think about whether I should ask you.   You couldn`t articulate it as a child, but you KNEW you wanted to help people and heal people and for people to feel better about themselves!  One of your dreams as just a child, was to be someone that could go to a war zone and have your presence heal those who had been affected by all the violence and hardship.

Tell your husband not to get mad at me mind you, but I`ve been to two of them and I KNOW if you had stepped off a plane, I would have felt better instantly!  (Smile).  You truly are gorgeous! 

But they have folks that go entertain the troops and I`ve met Brittany Murphy, Kidd Rock, Lee Anne Womack and Chely Wright and others when I was deployed.  Also I`ve interviewed the Lovely Singer and Model " Leah DeVon and she`s a veteran of USO tours and openly says that military audiences have been some of the most supportive and appreciative people she`s ever entertained in her life!  So, my question is this, unfortunately it looks like for now, the wars are going to continue.  So is that something you might consider doing?  And if so would you bring your husband so he could also entertain and support our warriors as well? 

Joan: Thank you for the compliment. First of all, you don`t have to ask me twice to step into a spotlight. I have to admit that performing just sets me on fire. My husband also sets me on fire, so he can definitely come along. I would love to entertain our soldiers over seas. They need every comfort and inspiration they can get to do the work of protecting our nation and our freedom. Entertainment is cathartic. Even entertainers crave the experience of enjoying other entertainers. It would be my absolute pleasure to fulfill what must be an even deeper need for soldiers who are facing the very worst kind of scenario while being far away from the people they love and the culture they know. But entertainment is short lived. The show does come to an end and the curtain closes. I would also like to be a part of ensuring the soldiers get the kind of ongoing emotional and military support they need to complete their tasks and come home healthy.

Chase Von:  Going back to you being beautiful!  You were also a stand out in basketball but when it came to making it in the movies; you had to suffer some disappointments not because you weren`t lovely enough to be in any movie as the leading lady, but because they didn`t know what to make of your mixed racial heritage! 

This sort of led you in the direction of voice over and becoming for all practical purposes, the reigning QUEEN! 

Now I might get beat up for this some, but there are those that think that the one`s that do voice over aren`t perhaps attractive enough to be standing on stage or in front of a camera but have the voices for it.  That`s not to say I don`t know that there are many popular actors etc that lend their voices to movies and animations etc.

But seeing pictures of you?  I think when you get around to it, you`re going to conquer Hollywood as well if you choose too!  (Smile).  But one of the most beautiful women to ever live in my opinion was Dorothy Dandridge!  Halle Berry has also broke through and been very successful but I had to think when I heard you say that.  Because a girl I went to junior high with  who is also an actress, (Angela Meryl), but also an incredibly successful stunt woman is someone I can`t understand why, she isn`t getting more face time as an actual actress. 

She`s won many awards and accolades for her stunt work and has been Beyonce`s stunt double and most notably at least to me, Vivica Fox`s stunt double in Kill Bill one!  (That`s really her in all the fight scenes you see in the beginning of the movie getting thrown around and smashing tables).  Nothing against Vivica or Beyonce but she`s just as lovely as they are and in my opinion, so are you.   But she`s also fair skinned like yourself.

This is Angela`s web site:  http://www.angelameryl.com/ 

And I`ve interviewed a few actors and actresses but I don`t know if the scripts say, Asian woman says this, the White woman says that, then Black woman says this... Hey!  We need a Black woman!

Well, she`s been Miss America and is also an incredibly successful singer!  Vanessa who?  Vanessa Williams?  Oh Yes!  We`ll make an exception! (Smile).

I`m mixed too, Black, Blackfoot and Cherokee Indian and rumored in family lore, a little French, but you also made the statement on Maureen`s show that now that we have our first time ever, Black President, (Who is really mixed), you think things will get better.  Can you expound on that?

Joan: Being of mixed race is not as simple as it seems. It really comes down to an unspoken rule about the precise shade of your skin. Barack Obama, for example, is dark enough that America sees him and accepts him as black. He, himself, declares his race as African American. But the hard core truth of the matter is that self-selecting himself as African-American is just as arbitrary as self-selecting himself as white American. Of course, he would never have become President had he run on the declaration that he was white. Unlike Barack, my lighter skin shade makes it difficult for people to determine my racial heritage. This is a difficult thing when it comes to the business of entertainment " which operates on reaching and impressing audiences according to demographic criteria. An audience can`t follow a movie`s storyline or fully absorb a product advertisement if they are busy wondering about the nationality of the actor. And that`s before we look at the movies and commercials that go out of their way to target a specific ethnic group. So yes, I lost many job opportunities because of what producers described as a nondescript racial heritage.  And along with this attitude I was more readily described as exotic than beautiful. So as far as the business " was concerned I had a face for radio. I think things are definitely improving. Race is becoming less the criteria by which intelligent and enlightened people chose to make decisions and in the end, the market place will always bend to the will of the consumer`s decisions.

Chase Von:  I don`t do the race thing myself, to me, it`s good people, bad people, which side of the line do you fall on?  In the Marines it was... Was it a dark green Marine?  Or a light green Marine?  (Meaning still a Marine, just like we are all still people.  (Smile).  Now to your many accomplishments!  You`ve been the voice for the NCAA men`s basketball tournament!   You`re voice over career has spanned over two decades!  You`ve done hundreds of promos, programs; commercials and your list of clients include ABC News, American Express, and ESPN!  You`re also featured in Maureen Anderson`s book, The Career Clinic, 8 Simple Rules for Finding Work You Love which is available on Amazon!    You`re also the author of Secrets of Voice Over Success and Creative solutions: husband and wife combine talents to deliver award-winning ad campaigns.  And you`ve also worked with popular radio host Don Imus of Imus in the Morning, and your other clients are or have been, King World, BLOOMBERG TV and radio, SHOWTIME, HBO, NBA Entertainment, COURT TV, Olay, Lens Express, Sony Music, JP Morgan Chase, Costco, and the New York Times classified calls regularly to have you represent numerous clients! 

You`ve voiced the TV campaign for The Muhammad Ali Center and narrated the documentary about the founding of the William Jefferson Clinton Library! Not to mention you`ve provided live announcements for the Museum of the Moving Image Salutes Will Smith " which aired on Bravo TV!  Sorry Joan, fingers are getting tired, so can you share some links and websites for our readers so they can learn more about you and your various other accomplishments?  Also for those that are interested in learning how to get involved and be successful in what you do?

Joan: Two web sites cover the highlights of my career. First there`s my personal web site: www.joanthevoice.com  Second, there`s my company web site that features the advertising and marketing work that my husband Rudy and I do as an ad agency. www.pushcreative.tv. I`m very proud of both.

Chase Von:  Well Joan, I always try and ask a tough one.  I don`t even want to weigh in myself, but I know you and your husband Rudy Gaskins believe in working together and it looks like you have a truly wonderful relationship!

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Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins

So what are your feelings on the Tiger Woods thing?  And do you think if he had included his wife more in what he was doing, he wouldn`t have been as likely to have been tempted if that is indeed the case?  Personally I don`t like kicking people when they`re down.  I myself occasionally flirt but man; I wouldn`t wish what he is now going through on an enemy!

And although my wife doesn`t write, I do try to include her in what I`m doing.  Do you think, as I think, that with most situations, people often end up spending more Awake " time with others of the opposite sex than they do with their spouses?  And how would you handle damage control for him?  Or would you if he asked? 

And do you think by working with your husband or others working with their significant others, they limit the chances of that happening?  Because let`s face it, in most situations, both have to work to make it and that leads to people being around others instead of the one`s they made a commitment to, in most people`s circumstances in this country.

Joan: Tiger Woods would appear to be suffering some very severe emotional problems, not to mention delusional issues that are not uncommon to children who grow up in celebrity bubbles. Obviously, had he been with his wife day in and day out, he would have had far less opportunity for being with other women. But that does not mean that he wouldn`t have manifested an equally adulterous mindset. One could almost feel sorry for Tiger if not for the obvious fraud he knowingly perpetrated while looking down his nose at the rest of us. His arrogance knows no bounds and he doesn`t appear to have a decent bone in his body. He`s getting his just deserts now. Perhaps the one good thing that may come out of Woods` disgrace is that women will wake up to a new understanding of our value as human beings and a common intolerance for being objectified by men. No, there`s a second thing: Men too now have the space to revisit who they are in the matter of human regard for one another, especially when it comes to male behavior toward women. If we chose, the Tiger debacle could be a departure point for an evolved common respect.

Chase Von:  Is there anything else you`re doing that we might see in the future you can give our readers a heads up about Joan?

Joan: Many things are on the horizon-I`ll know better in 2010-to be continued "

Chase Von:  Who are some of the people you yourself, truly look up to and admire?  And people you`ve loved working with, and also people you haven`t worked with yet, but would want to?

Joan: The late Don LaFontaine is the first person to come to mind as he was a personal friend who gave a great deal of himself to support my career and my dreams. Don was a man who walked through many storms, some of his on doing, to emerge as a loving humanitarian and a talent of great humility. I love him dearly. Barack Obama is another person I admire a great deal because he has dared to put front and center, the shared ideals of the public`s most romantic soul. He has challenged the world with what the world says it wants most of itself. He is championing a cause that is hard for us to accept, much like the way many of us dream of big things but dare not go after them. Obama was given a mandate to hold high our dreams and ideals and he has not stepped away from his promise to do so. And on the most personal and profound level, I have to acknowledge my husband Rudy. He has always been in my corner, even when he`s had to get out of his own way to do so. He does everything in his power to lift me up so I can better see the way, to clear a path so that I can better find my way, and to soften the ground so that can fall without fear. I give him the same support and we respect the power of being in accord with one another.

Joan Baker with Don Lafontaine

The link in the event the video doesn`t work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzZcdCma9AU

Chase Von:  What would you say if you were standing before a microphone that could be heard by every child on the planet, and regardless of what language they spoke, they would understand you? What positive advice would you give the children, if that were possible?

Joan:  I would share a quote from my husband: You have everything you need to be everything you want to be. "

Chase Von:  Busy as you are, how do you maintain your fantastic figure?  And what are some of the meals you and that lucky man that get`s to call himself your husband truly enjoy?  (Smile). 

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Joan:  This is a very basic thing for me and it`s far from perfect, but I exercise, eat healthily and work with a spiritual healer on a regular basis. You could say that`s the trinity of my life and all things fall somewhere within that triangle. Rudy and I love Japanese, Indian and Soul Food cuisine. Oh, and don`t let me leave out our Mexican which I love also. Of course, moderation is important regardless of the cuisine. Rudy is also a great cook so we enjoy many of his home made dishes. And while we`re talking about food, some of my favorite shows are Top Chef and Iron Chef. I can`t get enough of these shows because they are so incredibly inspiring.

Chase Von:  How important is family to you?  Also,  I know you support the cause of Alzheimer`s and are also heavily involved with Voices Echo an Alzheimer`s Cure.  Can you share with our readers your reason for believing so much in this cause?  And also more about it and some of the others that are also involved in this with you?

 

Joan: I am very connected to my family. My mom and I have had quite a journey as mother and daughter and it wasn`t always easy by any stretch of the imagination. In the end, however, our relationship has resolved to be the kind of relationship I couldn`t have dreamed up. We are fast friends and share everything with each other. And she and Rudy enjoy each other as well. My father, who passed away 7 years ago from complications of Alzheimer`s, was a rock in my life. He was always there, rain or shine, ready and willing to support my wildest dreams " as willing to be by my side whether I was winning or losing. My dad was also a great male role model who gave me something powerful to shoot for when I was finally ready to choose a mate in my life. Rudy and my dad have very similar ethics. They got along instantly. I also have 3 brothers who I love dearly. We don`t get together for family reunions or anything like that but we are aware of the bond that ties us together and somehow there is a respect and a love that we feed from. We continue to share our lives with each other, something that has become a great deal easier with social networking.

Voices Remember

In the event this video doesn`t work, the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6Jmf8D96xQ

Chase Von:  I also want to ask this Joan, recently I read something that was sent to me in email by best selling New York Times author, Janet Bray Attwood, I`m sure it was sent to many others as well, but it had my name at the top to make it seem personal. (Smile).  But it said and this is directly from the message;

Chris and I often say "passion is what connects individual intelligence with universal intelligence."

That means when you are clear about your passions, you tap into the
power that is organizing all the planets to circle around the sun, that
organizes all the stars in all the galaxies, down to the smallest, finest
particle of life on earth.

That`s a lot of power. "

I think I told you before I think everything happens for a reason, and sometimes there are some "strange` things that happen as well that have led me to believe there is no such thing as coincidence.  Prior to you writing me back and saying you wanted to do the interview, I also got a confirmation from four time World Champion boxer Hollie (Hot Stuff), Dunaway saying she`d like to do an interview with me as well!  But then I`m looking at your webpage, I click on you, and what do I see is the title of one of your pages?  HOT STUFF! (Smile).  Here`s her link and like you, she is quite hot!  (Smile).

http://www.hotstuffhollie.com/

But to me that sort of lets me know I`m going in the right direction when things seem to synchronize like that!  Do you often think, your passion opens doors for you and guides you in the right direction, even when what you may have (Thought) you wanted to do might fall off the radar, it is for a reason and for something else that will get you where you truly want to be, (perhaps faster), even though it doesn`t seem like it at the time, to take its place? 

I.e., you could still be a movie star if you wanted to, but being in voice over as predominantly you are, has for all practical purposes, allowed you to become a living legend in that field, and it has helped you bridge voice over and the power of that community with aiding those affected by Alzheimer`s which was one of your goals, even as a small child, and that was to be a Humanitarian. 

Because that might not have worked out so perfectly or quite the way it has, if you were a successful and always on call movie actress. 

Seems to me like your life is indeed being guided by a higher power and it just occurred to me, that the higher power might even possibly be the spirit of your late father.  Your thoughts on that?  

Joan: Passion is the catalyst for unbridled enthusiasm and hard work. Passion lives in the realm of faith so that you`re willing to taken on the greatest odds, sometimes unable to see practicalities that might otherwise stop you in your tracks. Passion is your willingness to put everything on the line to achieve your heart`s desire. Passion, however, is not about pushing blindly on the hope for divine intervention. My life has not always followed the path of my dreams but it has always followed my passions. It has led me to amazing opportunities and people I never dreamed I would encounter. It has also led me to learning experiences marked by disappointment and despair.  My dad is in everything I do and everything I have become. Being a movie start is a dream that carries with it certain criteria. Movie stars, for example, usually start rather young and grow up with a generation of moviegoers who come to know them as much for their longevity as their many memorable movies. On that level, becoming the traditional movie star is no longer my goal. However, I fully intend to be in movies and enjoy the excitement of bringing my talent and craft o bear on the artistry of filmmaking.

Chase Von:  Joan, you are such a wonderful and talented soul and certainly one that once met, can`t be forgotten.  I`ve seen you in pictures with popular Talk Show Host Bill O`Reilly, music sensation Wyclef once of the Fugee`s, former President Bill Clinton, comediene and actor Bill Murray, Senator John McCain, former boxer and promoter Leland Hardy, the Legendary Sugar Ray Leonard, tennis and super star tennis icon Serena Williams, lovely actress and model Shawn Richardz who I`ve also interviewed, and numerous other extremely well known, and easily recognized personalities!  I also think I would be remiss if I didn`t also mention this as well though, and that is all the other totally amazing voice over artist you`re pictured with who could also just as easily be in front of a camera! (Smile).  Like your voice over agent, Shari Hoffman, Marice Tobias, your husband, Rudy Gaskins, Valerie Smaldone, Bill Ratner, Joe Cipriano, Les Marshak, who introduces NBC News, Don LaFontaine, the voice for Termitor 2, Judgment Day, Rodd Houston, Cede ring Fox and so many others, but what I think is so truly amazing about you is how you are so sweet and again, time worn phrase, so down to earth! 

So I truly want to wish you and your husband Rudy a wonderful Holiday Season and on behalf of myself and the Student Operated Press, my sincere thanks for sharing yourself with us here!  And saved round, I`m still going to introduce you to Claire Do din!  She hasn`t been in touch lately but I definitely want you two to meet!  So Love and Light and continued blessings and success to you and your husband! 

Joan: You are so very kind Chase. You have a wonderful passion for life and people and a keen and sharp mind. It`s inspiring. I very much enjoyed the interview and I wish you the very, very best kind of success in your life.

Joan Baker:

The link in the event the video doesn`t work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LOFWIJs7Fo

Joan Baker:

The link in the event the video doesn`t work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuXK6vZfofU