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Mark Smeltzer: If getting attention is the way to make money in show business, this actor feels he’s a natural

By on November 27, 2018 in Arts with 0 Comments

Mark Smeltzer, working out of his temporary basement studio, can create a world of sound even as he prepares to move himself and his voiceover business to L.A.

By Susan Lagsdin

The venue was peaceful, with upholstered chairs in the sunny view window of a hillside home in Broadview, where 27-year-old voice artist and actor Mark Smeltzer is living, for a short time, with his parents.

However, spending an hour with Mark is a little unsettling — not disturbing, just unsettling in the physical sense. He’s so full of physical movement, emotional range and hop-skip-jump subject matter that keeping up with him actually expends energy.

And Mark likes it that way. He’s hoping that vibrant, positive life force will propel his performance career onward and upward when he makes a big move to Los Angeles he’s planned for Dec. 28. Following this period of respite in his hometown, he’ll travel to the heart of America’s entertainment industry.

He says he loves performing and was always seeking attention, the spotlight, an audience. Small acting roles in Fiddler on the Roof and The King and I at Wenatchee High School whetted his love of acting, and his strong, adaptable voice led the way to a variety of vocal work.

Mark’s career has not taken a straight path, though, with dropping out of both high school and college, day job switches, big heartbreak, a Hawaiian hiatus, significant disappointment, a few great mentors, loss of confidence, regaining of same, and a spate of very cool one-off jobs doing exactly what he loves to do.

Of that mix of good and bad, he said “I love challenges — they help me get better faster.”

He says he’s been helped immeasurably by his parents Dave and Ruth, who, he’s happy to explain, adopted him from a Methow Valley couple in utero 27 years ago (“The Smeltzers literally saved my life,” he insisted), and they continue to be supportive.

But he feels that reaching his goal of an acting career was hampered by societal expectations. Following a traditional track that didn’t fit him, he said, “set me back almost nine years!”

That mis-focus was compounded by attention deficit disorder; probably inherited, diagnosed early. Mark explained that after spending his youth and teen years battling his ADD, he has recently learned to use it positively.

Lifestyle changes eased his way, and with wise eating and drinking, he says, “Now I’m not as moody, not as many ups and downs; I’m not depressed anymore. I have energy, I have more concentration. Now I realize I can focus on things I want to do and I’m good at that will benefit me and my career.”

This career involves talent most of us can see, like the lead role of Seymour Krelborn in Music Theater of Wenatchee’s recent Little Shop of Horrors. (He auditioned for that play at the last moment, assuming if anything he’d get the voice of the plant. He obviously doesn’t have “a face made for radio,” as the joke goes.)

You can also hear him — a dozen of his nonfiction audio book recordings are available on Amazon or YouTube. And maybe you can only imagine his video game character voices recorded for Big Fish Games in Seattle. He’s also done voice work for Dwayne Johnson’s (“The Rock”) production company, Seven Bucks, and has a small role in the 2017 film Psycho’s Path.

Known professionally as SmeltzerSounds Voiceovers, the combo of Mark’s voice and his recording expertise works anywhere: audio books, commercials, promotions, voice-overs in film, announcements, on-line instruction, cartoons and a range of other vocal ventures, but he’s set some personal boundaries.

“I won’t record for alcohol, soda, fast food or animal product companies… humans aren’t meant to consume certain products.”

Considering American commerce, that’s a tough position. He wryly acknowledges that in this coming year, “I need to monetize my stances efficiently.”

Mark’s major stock in trade is his vocal talent, which he describes simply as “versatility and range.” For this interview, he flourished a few snatches of dialogue and song from Little Shop, and an impressive on-demand improv (play the part of someone slow thinking and unsure…)

The other necessary ingredient in the business is his integrated sound system. All of it — Mac 2010 computer, AKG p420 microphone, “pop” filter, Scarlett2i4 audio interface — fits into one side of a not-walk-in bedroom closet, and it enables him to work from home on a program named Garage Band, connecting digitally to the world.

Mark would like to expand his voiceover work into full-bore acting and even producing.

His mind always churning with opinionated commentary and following the “question everything” rule, he also looks forward to writing content for plays, podcasts, comedy and monologues. Making people feel — especially making them laugh, brings him great joy.

“I’m a really outspoken dude,” he said. “But in this business getting attention is the way people make money.”

He admires George Carlin, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Richard Pryor and says he learned from them to be fearless about social constraints and fitting in. “The only way to succeed in life is to get uncomfortable — and success in performance means making other people uncomfortable too.”

So, here’s to discomfort, to unsettling experiences and new barriers to break. With revived stores of energy and optimism, sound-making savvy, solid connections and a mix of marketable talents, Mark is heading off to fulfill his L.A. dream.

Mark’s website is www.smeltzersounds.com, and you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and IMDb.

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