Casey Erin Clark and Julie Fogh
Co-founder & Coach of Vital Voice Training
Tell us about your career and how it all started?
CASEY: I’ve been referring to myself as a “semi-recovering” professional musical theater actor for the last couple of years – I’d always taught singing and acting the song to both pros and amateurs of all ages, but after getting back from the Les Miserables national tour, I got an interview to be a public speaking coach. I had zero prior experience, but I knew the skills I had as an actor and singer were transferable. My first client was a podcast host who hated how she sounded and was losing her voice on long recording days – we worked on vocal health, breath support, and imbuing her language with all the passion she had for her subject, and I totally fell in love with this work. I did NOT, however, enjoy the company I was working for. I met Julie around the same time and realized we had similar goals and similar frustrations with the status quo of voice and public speaking coaching. Rather than keep gritting my teeth and putting up with practices I didn’t like, we decided to go for it and start Vital Voice Training. And as of April 2019, we’re five years in!
JULIE: I do public speaking and communication coaching for professionals or anyone who has a story to tell. It came out of my studies as an actor; voice in particular fascinated me. Your voice will tell me everything I need to know about you, and is unique as a finger print. I'm obsessed with unpacking it all. Casey and I started our company with a shared outlook that the current model of speech coaching (sound like a wealthy white guy…make your voice deep…never say um or uh) was missing a huge part of why and how we speak the way we do. So basically, we started with a small goal of changing speech coaching and the conversations around women's voices, and now, we have a small goal of changing the way corporate communication works
What does sisterhood mean to you?
CASEY: The story of the last 5 years of my life has been about finding a new sisterhood of friends and fellow entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, so many of the relationships in the professional theater biz, where I came from, are tainted by this overarching deep sense of lack – lack of opportunities, lack of resources, etc. – so it’s hard not to exist in this constant state of competitiveness. And it’s super real - there just aren’t enough jobs for all the talented people out there. The friendships I have from the theater world thrived in spite of that, but they are rare and precious to me. You have to constantly examine yourself not to get pulled into that space of “not enough”. Stepping outside the theater world gave me a whole new perspective – that women could be truly supportive of each other’s success, build each other up, and actually believe that your win is my win and vice versa. It’s more than a breath of fresh air – it’s a whole new world of oxygen.
JULIE: Sisterhood is the friend you can call that you don't have to organize your thoughts for first. The person that can carry on a conversation with you while you cry. The people that stick by you in your darkest times and celebrate your victories…but you can also share fart jokes with.
What's your personal mantra?
CASEY: I have three: “Everything is figure-out-able.” “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” “If the worst thing you can hear is ‘no’, go for it.”
JULIE: Pretty much any line from Prince's Cream. Also "We have much to do, we must go slowly"
What is your superpower?
CASEY: My enthusiasm and optimism – I can get people on board with an idea, I can help my clients feel like the badasses they are, and I am good at freely and truthfully expressing my love and admiration for people. I don’t believe in holding back praise and positive attention from the people I love and respect. The women in my sisterhood deserve to hear how awesome they are – and I’m never faking it. I genuinely believe in them, and that helps them believe in themselves.
JULIE: I can guess people's height visually about 99% of the time, and I can generally tell by ear where someone is from when I listen to how they speak.
Tell us about women that inspired you and your female role models:
CASEY: There are SO MANY – our clients are the most badass women on the planet. Two in particular: Carrie Goldberg, who is a lawyer specializing in online abuse and revenge porn, who just got legislation passed in NY on revenge porn. Piera Gelardi, the Executive Creative Officer of Refinery 29, who is creating the fullest, most vibrant, creative life and now doing it with a brand new baby girl. And my community of “Valkyries”, the mastermind group we started a few years ago that continues to bring the coolest, most generous women to it.
JULIE: I'm inspired by anyone that blazed their own path, who both makes and breaks rules. To misquote a meme, women that "speak up, even when their voice shakes". My list includes Grace Jones, Meryl Streep, Hannah Gadsby, Michelle Obama, Kelly Hoey, Ali Wong, Julia Child, Ruth Reichl.
What would be your advice for women who are building careers in your industry?
CASEY: Brand new entrepreneurs: Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know the answer” or “I need help”. Google is your friend, but be discerning about the info out there. LOTS of people are trying to sell you their online course on how to achieve the 6-figure lifestyle. I’m sure you’ve seen those ads on Facebook – the woman with her laptop on the beach or in front of the Eiffel Tower. There’s a lot of bad info out there, and a lot of people trading on the ”follow your dreams, make money off your passions” thing to make money themselves. Do your research and ask if someone else has followed this advice and how it went. Just because someone is successful doesn’t mean they ACTUALLY know the secret to success and can share it with you for 4 easy payments of $997.
JULIE: Don't ask yourself how you can fit into the landscape, recognize the landscape is ripe for change. Bring your vision. Follow your curiosity.
One piece of advice for your 18 year old self?
CASEY: You have a singular dream right now: make it on Broadway. Someday, your dreams will be so much wider and more inclusive. You’ll recognize that your talents are applicable far beyond standing center stage in a spotlight, and it’s gonna be real scary at first. The messaging you have internalized is that broadening what success looks like beyond booking a Broadway show means you’ve “given up” on your dreams, and you might feel like a failure for a minute. That’s bullshit. Dreams are infinite, and the arts never lock the door behind you if you step away for a second.
JULIE: You are going to fail a LOT. You are going to get your heart broken. Sometimes it won't "all work out" but if you stick with it, the journey is pretty amazing, both in spite of, and because of those things. And don't let your dental insurance lapse.
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