“I would say confident, yeah. I know my abilities. I think.”
Ask Natalie Donegan to describe herself in one word and she chooses “confident.” Considering her self-made success and driven attitude, it’s hard to see her as anything but.
A senior at MTSU, Donegan, 40, is a Recording Industry major with a concentration in Audio Production and a minor in Speech and Theater.
Donegan moved to the U.S. from Cambridge, England, in 2003. After first living in Montana, Donegan and her husband relocated to Murfreesboro.
“We moved to Murfreesboro because it’s a college town and as close as I could get to Cambridge in Tennessee,” she said.
While in Britain, Donegan always had an interest in voiceovers after studying theater and participating in amateur dramatics at Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, but her responsibilities at the time prevented her from entering the field herself. She was hired several times to record voiceovers by different companies, but soon questioned why she had to go through another business to reach her goal.
“Why am I being hired by someone else to fully produce a track?” Donegan said. “Instead of just supplying my voice, with the right training, I can do it all myself and cut out the middle-man.”
After moving to the States, Donegan got in touch with a company that recorded voice demos for up-and-coming talents. She then started her own business, British Voice Over Natalie Donegan, and sent her demos to every voiceover company she could find in the Tennessee area. Her business is currently on hold as she attends MTSU to learn everything she can about the field, and she plans on re-opening it upon graduation.
Over the course of her career, Donegan has worked on over 175 voiceover tracks, ranging from telephone voicemails to corporate presentations to video games. She understands that it’s not a usual job.
“Everyone thinks that if you do voice work, it’s going to be something big, like Geico,” Donegan said, laughing. “People don’t understand that you can set something like that up from your home and that voiceovers cover an enormous range of projects.”
Having a British voice definitely doesn’t hurt her chances at finding jobs in her field. Donegan said her accent has helped on more than one occasion.
“With a British voice, you pretty much just walk in and start talking, and people want to work with you,” she remarked.
Outside of voiceovers, Donegan has also worked with several radio stations, such as MTSU’s WMOT and Murfreesboro’s WGNS. As for further ambitions in radio, Donegan said she believes her voice and age would fit the tone of feature stories well. She also has interests in historical arts and community events.
Donegan has been offered on-camera jobs too, but she didn’t feel comfortable volunteering without experience in the field. To remedy this, Donegan took it upon herself to take broadcasting classes at MTSU to gain the necessary skills.
Donegan partially attributes her success to some early influences. She mentioned that she found inspiration in both her drama teacher in England and her father, who she describes as a “very academic man.” She was also impressed with several of her professors at MTSU, saying that she has been fortunate in her classes to have helpful and supportive instructors. Dan Pfeifer, Frank Baird and Jette Halladay are just a few of the professors at MTSU that Donegan is fond of.
Donegan’s Storytelling professor, Jette Halladay, had only positive things to say about her experience with Donegan in class. Even after teaching for over 20 years, Halladay remarked that Donegan is in the top 1 percent of students she has ever had.
“You know, you’re asking someone who’s been teaching for a very long time, so there’s very few things that surprise me, but there are several things that inspire me,” Halladay said. “And her choice to be the best mom she can be, but also reach out, to be successful in a career and also serve in a public way, no it doesn’t surprise me. But I like to surround myself with people like her.”
Donegan had quite a bit to say about the experience of going to college at her age.
“When you walk in when you’re 39, and you haven’t been in college since you were 18, it’s hard,” Donegan explained. “First of all, everybody thinks you’re the professor. It’s like ‘No, I know I look older, but I’m not.’”
Donegan encourages people to go to college at an early age to take advantage of the opportunity.
“A lot of people get distracted by the activites,” Donegan said. “I wish I could do more, but you’ve got this one chance, and I kick myself in the teeth that I didn’t do four years in this when I was 20. I don’t know where I would be in my life right now if I’d done that back then. Go to school when you’re 20,” Donegan ends with a laugh.
She also encourages those going into her field of work to push themselves and be their own salespeople.
“If someone’s going to believe in you, you’ve got to push yourself and believe in yourself,” she said.
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To contact Lifestyles Editor Rhiannon Gilbert, email firstname.lastname@example.org.