Q&A with a Language Professional is a new series of interviews dedicated to showcasing the wonderfully diverse career paths we linguists and language professionals might take and what language means to us all. Same set of questions – yet very different answers indeed!
This time, the questions are answered by Yuliya Stancheva, bilingual (Bulgarian and English) voice and dubbing actress, voice and language director, podcast host and producer, social media manager. Yuliya’s journey started early: when she was 15 she was already working at a small-town radio station. Later on, her fascination with voice acting led her to embark on a career as a voice actress. Nevertheless, Yuliya has never wanted to limit herself to one direction and to this day she keeps juggling different careers, enjoying to experiment and find inspiration in different areas.
Let’s see what her take is on language, work, success, passion and the everyday challenges working as a fellow language professional.
What does ‘language’ mean to you?
Yuliya: Language is not just a complex, interactive verbal and non-verbal system that we use to communicate with each other, it’s what connects people on a deeper level, helping us to externalise our ideas, concepts, emotions and feelings beyond our inner worlds. It is an identity that has a glocal (local and global) feeling and universal belonging that transcends borders and derives from our human’s nature.
What is your journey about?
Yuliya: My journey is about using the power of human voice and spoken words in a transforming, powerful, inspiring, and illuminating way to convey messages of hope, joy, faith and love.
Where did you start from, and where are you now?
Yuliya: I started as a radio presenter in a small-town radio station in Bulgaria at the age of 15. At the age of 18 I was already working in one of the prominent radio stations in the capital, juggling my work as a presenter, DJ, producer and a voiceover artist while studying “Management of Human resources” at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. My fascination with voice acting pushed me into pursuing a career as a dubbing actor. For years I juggled both careers- producing and hosting my own radio show while dubbing TV series, films, animations, documentaries and TV programs for different televisions until I became a full-time voice actor in 2007 and later moved to London in 2009, where I have continued to work as a voice actor.
I work both in my native Bulgarian and in English, voicing corporate projects, e-learning, promos, commercials, explainer videos, telephone messages, internal training videos, commercials, anything that requires a human voice. I guess, juggling different careers is something that I feel comfortable with. It gives me a lot of different areas to experiment with and to get inspiration from. So as an addition to my voice acting, I am also working as a podcast producer and host and a Social Media Manager, creating imagery, audio and video content for clients. My passion for audio and language and creative drive are in the foundation of everything I do.
Tell us about your successes and career highlights.
Yuliya: I have been celebrating little and big successes at every step of my journey, from winning the casting for my first radio presenting job at the age of 15 and any subsequent job roles in other radio stations in Sofia to winning my first ever casting as a dubbing actor for tv series for the Bulgarian national television at the age of 20 and winning the trust and respect of TV directors and other talented and highly experienced senior voice actors in the industry which was essential for me to continue being invited to voice different roles in many other TV productions.
I am my biggest critique and I always push my self to grow and work on the best version of myself. I regard as an achievement every barrier and challenge that I have overcome, while building a career in London. One of the highlights of my voice acting career in the UK is me being casted for a dubbing role in the Netflix series Holiday secrets in 2018, in which I had to use a Balkan accented English. There were unfamiliar for me techniques so I had to learn quickly on the spot while being in the job. It was challenging and exciting at the same time and that’s the beauty of my job – allowing me to always stretch myself and grow as an artist.
I’m also proud that I had the opportunity to work as one of the dubbing directors for the English dubbed version of the Chinese Animation Xiaoji and the dog aired on SKY TV, China Hour. I worked with an amazing team of super talented Actors, Directors, Sound Engineers and Producers and it was great fun! I am also grateful that I had the opportunity to share my dubbing experience with other fantastic actors before the pandemic started as I was running dubbing workshops together with Chatterbox Voices and Alchemy Post studios, where I taught dubbing for films, animations and corporate projects.
Other highlights would be the two podcasts I am currently working on as a Host, Editor & Producer: Chatterbox Hub podcast and Brunel for Business podcast.
What does an average day look like in your life?
Yuliya: My days differ from one another depending on what voiceover projects I am working on or auditioning for and whether I am recording at home or at a client’s studio. But generally, there is a lot of groundwork going on- from exchanging emails and building relationships with clients and agents to working on my craft and self-improvement- all of this is going along with me working on podcast projects, researching, writing, interviewing, recording and sound editing, attending voiceover webinars and workshops as well as trying to find every day some creative space for my social media content production. Some days can be very intense trying to juggle so many different jobs, but I do love the variety of my work – all these areas of my work have interconnecting touch points which only benefits and enriches my work.
Have you ever thought of changing directions, and if so, why?
Yuliya: Honestly, I’ve never thought of changing directions because I feel that I am lucky to have found my passion and true calling at a very young age. Although I must admit that as a kid, I wanted to become a writer and a journalist. I was a book worm and used to write poems and short stories. So I guess, my plan B would be to be a writer or take on a more journalistic path. I generally believe that it’s never too late to try out something new and experiment as long as you have the drive and the motivation to see a dream come true.
Can you identify anything that might be challenging in the future for your particular profession?
Yuliya: Recently there has been a lot of talk about the use of AI in the world of voiceovers with many having concerns that AI is going to take over our jobs! Some companies that are using AI voice instead of human voice actors are already claiming that their authentic-sounding TTS (text to speech) voice-over services are virtually indistinguishable from human voices. Although this is an interesting trend to watch, I am not worried that AI would completely replace human voice actors as our human nature’s expressiveness, emotional connectiveness, individual’s personality, voice complexity and character’s depth cannot be entirely replicated by robotics.
What’s the most common misconception about your field of work?
Yuliya: It’s the notion and belief that as long as you have a good voice, you can be a voice actor and that everyone can do it. I hear people say “You just read words, right? How hard it can be?!” Being a good voice actor requires much more than just a good voice and this comes with training and experience. And also from one voice actor to another there can be a whole universe of difference in their abilities, skills and talents.
Where are you heading? What is the rest of the journey like as you see it now?
Yuliya: I hope I am heading to a space where I can outgrow and surprise myself. I love learning new things and challenging myself to obtain (and why not master) skills that I thought were out of my reach. Currently, I am learning more about sound editing and production while exploring a different audio software which would allow me to have more control of the technical aspect of my work. I don’t want to limit myself to only one direction and vision for my journey. There are so many exciting paths that I want to explore and see where they will take me.
But most of all through my work I would like to be able to help people, whether it is by voicing that medical instructional video that helps patients get the confidence and reassurance that they can manage their health condition, or by creating a content that can be both informative and inspiring for others to achieve their goals and be happy.
Any books / movies / exhibitions / events / art that you would recommend us language professionals to read / watch / visit?
Yuliya: If you want to dive into the immersive and exciting world of audio and learn more about voiceovers, there are many amazing podcasts out there to listen to. I like The Voiceover Social with Nick Redman and Leah Marks which is both funny and informative and Tales from the Tannoy with Eleanor Hamilton which is deeply touching and heart-warming. And why don’t you check Chatterbox Hub podcast where I interview talented and inspiring voice actors or Brunel for Business podcast (which is going to be launched soon) where I interview successful entrepreneurs about running a business during times of crisis?
If you are more of a reader than a listener, check out the latest The Voiceover Secrets book where 22 successful voice actors share their best experience-based tips. I have worked with some of these fantastic actors, and I can’t wait to start reading this book full of great insight.
If you like watching shows, I would highly recommend you to check “Toast of London”- it shows our industry in an incredibly fun way.
And lastly, but not least, once we are able to physically attend events, make sure you have your ticket for The One Voice conference where you can meet and learn from top industry experts- from voice actors, producers, directors and writers to translators, agents and motivational speakers.
Do you have a favourite quote, or a life mantra you live by?
Yuliya: Oh, I have many! 😊 I try to live be these golden rules:
Be good, be kind, be respectful and try to help others whenever you can. And don’t lose hope, no matter how challenging the journey might be; never give up, no matter how many times the door closes in front of you; keep going, keep trying and keep trusting God and yourself, and nothing will be impossible.
I am always striving to be in a place of inner happiness and calm, where I am in peace and harmony with myself and the world around me, and where everything I do just feels right.
How can we find you in the online space? Website, LinkedIn, or email perhaps?
Yuliya: You can find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yuliya-stancheva-54348725
Or you can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for your time, Yuliya. Congratulations on all your achievements. Wishing you all the best for your future.