In this episode:
Voice actress Katie Leigh is known for the popular roles she has played in films and on radio dramas, including Connie Kendall on Adventures in Odyssey, but that isn’t her real identity. What started out as a gig to pay the bills led to a calling and the path to true identity. With each speed bump, God has shown her how to find true joy.
In this episode, she's transparent as she shares how she almost lost her career when unexpected circumstances shook her world, how her most famous role almost wasn't, and how God worked it all out in the best way. Katie's life is an example of what happens when passion and purpose intersect.
About Katie Leigh:
Katie Leigh is a voice actor, director, coach and author. Possibly best known to the Christian community as Connie Kendall on Adventures in Odyssey. Since 1981, Katie Leigh has been a part of the Los Angeles voice over community, staring in such Emmy-award-winning and fan favorites hits as "Muppet Babies,” (Baby Rowlf) "Darkwing Duck,"(Honker Muddlefoot) "Richie Rich,"(Richie) "Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears,"(Sunni Gummi) “Totally Spies,”(Alex) and many more. In 1987, she took on the role of Connie Kendall in the world-wide radio show "Adventures in Odyssey," a role she continued ever since.
In 2015, Katie took on her first voice directing job with the award winning radio play “Rex Tanner and the Sword of Damocles.” She has directed several cartoon series and film trailers since. She has an extensive background in ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement), which includes supplying the voice for the Maharaja in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." Katie is best known for her fantastic children, teen and character voices (but she can sound like a grown-up, too!). A frequent guest on nostalgic podcasts, convention guest and public speaker, she also coaches up-and-coming animation voice actors through her online workshops and private sessions.
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Highlights from “Where Passion and Purpose Intersect”
- Katie Leigh talks about how she got started in voice acting.
- She talks about leaving voice acting to be a substitute teacher for a while.
- How Katie started a YouTube show and wrote a book with dear friend Will Ryan.
- Words of wisdom on what to do in the waiting seasons and when life is hard.
- Katie talks about how it’s hard to find the line between Connie Kendall and herself sometimes.
- Just for fun: Listen to some of the characters Katie has voiced
Quotes to Remember from Katie Leigh
- When I got out of high school. People started commenting on my voice, and I had no idea that I had an unusual voice, tell you the truth.
- I hated the sound of my voice. And I hated that people thought I sounded like a little girl. And I almost felt defensive about that.
- I had taken some improv classes and did some shows. And that was fun. And I was trying to make extra money. So I made a demo and got an agent.
- I felt God said to me . . . "Just speak your truth. Just share what you know. Be yourself. You don't have to make anybody do anything, but you can share your experience, and nobody can negate what your experience is."
- And just having somebody say they wanted to hire me . . . could make me cry. Because I'd sort of lost my identity. You know, I like I said, two identities. One was work. One was home.
- I lived these parallel lives for 34 years. I know Connie's life and Odyssey and my own life here.
- The joy of the Lord is my strength. Not my work, not who I am, who I know, what my kids do. No. . . It comes from God.
- I had to give up a lot of stuff at one point, a lot of stuff. And I just kept my eyes on God. . . . You have to. You can't look at your circumstances. Our God is so amazing.
- We all get these valleys. That's not the end of the story. . . So don't stop what you're doing. Don't lose your dream.
Nehemiah 8:10 – The Joy of the Lord is my strength…
Joel 2:25 – I will restore to you the years the locust…
Adventures in Oddity book by Katie Leigh and Will Ryan
Adventures in Odyssey radio program and CDs
Book: Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure (book and Bible study)
This 15-week small group Bible study is designed for busy women who want to build relationships as they gather around the Word of God to grow in their faith. There are optional at-home activities that help apply the content but no assigned homework. Leaders can facilitate discussion without extensive prep for each session.
Michelle Rayburn 00:02
Hey friends. This week I'm excited to bring you an interview with voice actress Katie Lee. She's going to talk about one of her biggest roles, which is playing Connie Kendall on the Focus on the Family Radio series, something our kids grew up listening to. We also talk about what it's like to be in Hollywood and to live as a believer in that environment. Katie talks about the benefits and the challenges of that. She also talks about her life repurposed story, Katie thought an unfortunate series of events meant that her career was over. But God had other plans. She tells what God has done in the midst of some of her greatest difficulties. If you're struggling to figure out where your passion and your purpose connect, I think you'll be inspired by Katie's story. Maybe this is your first time on life repurposed. I love telling stories of how God shows up in the trashy stuff of life! So thanks for being here today.
Michelle Rayburn 01:07
You're listening to Life Repurposed, where you'll find practical biblical wisdom for everyday living, creative inspiration, and helpful resources. Grow your faith, improve your relationships, discover your purpose, and reach your goals with topics to encourage you to find hope amid the trashy stuff of life. Thanks for joining me today. I'm your host Michelle Rayburn.
Michelle Rayburn 01:30
Katie Lee is a voice actor, director, coach and author, possibly best known to the Christian community as Connie Kendall on Adventures In Odyssey since 1981. Katie Lee has been part of the Los Angeles voiceover community starring in such Emmy award winning and fan favorites as Muppet Babies as baby Ralph Darkwing Duck as honker middle foot Richie Rich as Richie Disney's adventures of the gummy bears as Sunni gummy, totally spies. She was Alex and many more. In 1987, she took on the role of Connie Kendall in the worldwide radio show Adventures In Odyssey, a roll she has continued ever since. In 2015, Katie took on her first voice directing job with the award winning radio play Rex Tanner and the sword of Damocles. She has directed several cartoon series and film trailers since, is a frequent guest on nostalgic podcasts, convention guest, and public speaker, Katie also coaches up and coming animation voice actors through her online workshops and private sessions. I hope you enjoy getting to know Katie a little bit more as we talk about her life repurposed story. Welcome, Katie, thank you so much for sitting down to talk with me today.
Katie Leigh 02:50
It's great to sit down.
Michelle Rayburn 02:55
So I didn't tell you this when we were warming up and talking before I hit record. But my boys grew up listening to Adventures In Odyssey and my oldest son is almost 30. And he's a huge fan. So one of the things that's really cool about that is your voice has been on our family journey since my kids were like five years old and listening to the radio. I'd love to know a little bit more about being Connie Kendall on Focus on the Family.
Katie Leigh 03:23
Oh, that is so nice to hear. That's the first time I've ever heard that. No, just kidding. No, I know. But I love I love it every time somebody says that, to me. It's kind of mind blowing. And your your listeners will have to know that I have a little residual COVID non voice returning syndrome. What's it like being Connie Kendall? It's kind of the greatest thing in the world. You know, I was just listening to – there's a big Facebook group now.
Michelle Rayburn 03:58
Oh, he's part of that.
Katie Leigh 04:00
The Odyssey fan club. Okay, so last year, like a year ago, maybe a little less than a year ago, there were 800 people in that group. 800. And when will and I started doing our YouTube show? I said let's get on it. So we can share. There's 800 people, right? Maybe 60 came on. Now there's like 6000 or 8000 people. I'm like, Oh my gosh, it's just grown like crazy in the past year. Anyway, what's my point? My point is oh, so they had a a marathon this week. They were playing some stuff and I logged in, because I was, you know, lying on my deathbed and listening and and I was just so impressed with how good the show sounded. And I enjoy listening as because I raised my kids listening Odyssey. Well, the first one, for sure. And he even acted in the show. He was in the Novacom saga. He played a character named Cal. And then my second one, and he was okay to listen again with her and that you know, when you get number three other they get a little squirrely, so. But I when we would go on car trips, we'd listen for sure. And it's just amazing, and it was an answer to prayer. I'm mean, I wanted to serve the Lord. You know, with my career somehow. And in the way it unfolded is just amazing. And who knew we would be on the air 30 going on 35 years now. That's pretty darn incredible. As you can see, your audience can't, I'm wearing my favorite sweatshirt and Adventures In Odyssey sweatshirt. My dear friend Chris Anthony Lansdale when we got this one, she said, "Ask for it in an extra large because I'm always getting my sweatshirts not big enough." And when I got extra large, it's just like fit so comfy. I live in it.
Michelle Rayburn 04:00
I need to get my son one of those sweatshirts.
Katie Leigh 05:18
I don't even know if they still—make them.
Michelle Rayburn 05:21
Very secret stash.
Katie Leigh 06:15
But it's just so neat to be and I feel like our listeners are my family. You know, they've kind of feel like, Oh, you've been in our house all these years? Well, when I meet fans, you know, I feel like they're family. Um, we're trying to brainstorm how to have an Odyssey Con because you know, as a voice actor, I go to a lot of Comic Cons. But it'll be so much fun to have an Odyssey Con and just be with Odyssey fans. Did that answer your question?
Michelle Rayburn 06:47
Yes! We had so much fun when the kids were little we asked them where they wanted to go on spring break one year. And they wanted to go to Whit's End. So we went to Colorado Springs, did a road trip, recorded our own little family episode.
Katie Leigh 07:00
It's a blast.
Michelle Rayburn 07:00
You get to—and I realized how hard it is to be a voice actor. It's not for me. So I'm wondering, how did you get started in that? When did you know you wanted to do voiceover?
Katie Leigh 07:10
When the check cleared. (laughter) Right? You go down that path and try to figure out what's going to pay the bills. Well, I was a good student that talked too much. That showed up regularly on my report cards and seriously, I grew up in in Hollywood, per se. And it wasn't something I really thought about. When I got out of high school. People started commenting on my voice, and I had no idea that I had an unusual voice, tell you the truth. I mean, people nowadays people record themselves 24/7, right? Know what they look like what they sound like. But back in the 70s we didn't have that type of stuff. We did have a tape recorder. So you know, people kind of planted that seed. And I was always a mimic. But I'm kind of shy, a little bit introverted, like you, being on stage, I was never a theatre person. I was the AV monitor. I was the one that pushed the film projector into the classrooms and did all the technical stuff. But things happen. And I had I met some—because of where, you know, it really does pay who you know. There are a couple friends of my parents that had me in the studio to do some things. And I hated the sound of my voice. And I hated that people thought I sounded like a little girl. And I almost felt defensive about that. And I was afraid of being exploited, so to speak.
Katie Leigh 08:59
But after I went, I finally ended up going to making a demo, and I got an agent when I was in college. And I was trying to figure out while taking a break from college because I was a junior—I was going to be a junior—and I didn't know what my major should be. So I was waiting. And in the meantime, I had taken some improv classes and did some shows. And that was fun. And I was trying to make extra money. So I made a demo and got an agent and when I went to a job interview I was really interested in the person auditioning me and asked, "Well, how'd you get your job?"
Katie Leigh 09:43
And she told me, "I got a degree in broadcasting," and I was like, "Oh. Shut the front door. What? There's a degree in broadcasting? That sounds like fun because fun is like my middle name. I want to have fun."
Katie Leigh 09:58
So I thought oh, I could finish my degree and do that, so I did start get did get a degree in broadcasting. And then when I graduated I was like, "Okay now what?" You know, like the end of "All the President's Men," now what? Is that the movie? Anyway. But so I they said well your voice is really more suited for animation. You should go to LA. I was living in San Francisco. I really liked it there, and I grew up in LA and I want to go home. But I didn't know what else. I thought, well, I'll give it a shot. I'll give it a couple years, went down to LA, was in the right place at the right time. And just learned on the job, really. And the rest is history. I'm super thankful. Super thankful.
Michelle Rayburn 10:45
Did you grow up in a family of faith?
Katie Leigh 10:50
I went—I grew up in a family that went to church. My father actually attended seminary for a while. And I'm not sure how much he was really interested in it or just avoiding the Korean War. But he did do that. And I grew up Episcopalian. But most of my family is Jewish. So I have sort of a mixed heritage. But we did grow up in church, and I always went to church. Even when I kind of, you know, wasn't living an exemplary life, so to speak, I'd still go to church on Sunday morning, when when I was like, crazy. I remember living in San Francisco and I found this Episcopal Church. I don't know how long it took me to go there. And it was in—did you, I don't know if you know this. There's a black saint named St. Cyprian.
Michelle Rayburn 11:49
I didn't know that.
Katie Leigh 11:49
So this church was named after him. And the church was mainly black. But I went there. And like, the first time I showed up, they said, "Would you like to help with Sunday school?" I'm like, okay, so I mean, I've always been connected. But, you know, I really didn't become a born again believer until I was like, 25, I guess? Yeah. And that's when I really took stock of my life and, and my purpose, and how do I want to proceed. And you know, back then the church was kind of rough. I think we're a lot more gracious now. We're a little (sigh) dogmatic, and there's a right way to be a Christian and wrong way. And I threw out a bunch of my record albums, and, you know, didn't and then I worked, I actually worked. I was working in a lot of cartoons at the time. One of them being Dungeons and Dragons that the church was like, whaaaa!
Katie Leigh 12:04
Oh, yeah, I remember that. When I was in college.
Katie Leigh 13:03
Oh my word. Am I supposed to quit my career? Am I the— Am I doing the work of the devil? Is there, you know... Carebears is witchcraft [tongue-in-cheek]. And I don't know, you know, and so I was afraid to talk about my job. Took me like, 20 years to tell people I was really an actress. And in, you know, in the church, I didn't want to say what I was doing, because I was afraid of being judged. And when I go to work, you know, you didn't really want to talk too much about being a Christian, although, I did, like, this really goofy thing and carried my Bible everywhere. So you know, it's kind of obvious that maybe that'll keep the bad spirits away, I don't know, but. [tongue-in-cheek again]
Michelle Rayburn 13:47
Yeah, I wondered what it was like being a Christian in Hollywood, whether it was more challenging, or whether it was an easier place to...
Katie Leigh 13:55
You know, I don't think the world is changed. And people ask me that a lot of parents will write to me, you know, because a lot of families listen to Odyssey, and that, oh, we've badly influenced their children to want to be voice actors, apparently. And they'll say, you know, I'm afraid of my kid going to Hollywood—nowadays, you don't even have to but—and, you know, when I was struggling with all that, I felt God said to me, "You know what? You don't—" (Because I felt this pressure, I guess, to evangelize). And he said, "Just speak your truth. Just share what you know. Be yourself. You don't have to make anybody do anything, but you can share your experience, and nobody can negate what your experience is."
Katie Leigh 14:45
And that was so helpful to me. Thank you, God for that. Because then, people who know me know I'm not any different at work than I am at home than I am at church. And I don't try to tell other people what to do. I just share. If I, if I walk into the studio and I say, "Oh, my goodness, I was praying this morning, and I got this idea," nobody's gonna get upset. That's my experience, right? I walk in and say, "Okay, everybody, you should all get on your knees and pray right now," that's different. So when I, you know, I realized that it freed me from a lot of of fear and anxiety. And wondering, you know, God said, if it's true, in this place, it's true in that place, you know, and just be who you are. And don't worry about it. And some people got, I mean, because of the way I presented myself, when I first got saved, I think it might have left a little bad taste, and some people... And people are very aware of my, oh, well, certain people, you know, I'll walk into a room and they'll like, swear, and then apologize. And they'll do that kind of stuff. But you know, we all do it in our heads. Let's face it.
Michelle Rayburn 16:11
I've had that in the business world, too, where people are apologizing to me.
Katie Leigh 16:15
Right? And it isn't any—what I was gonna say is, look, if I was a plumber, is there any difference being around the people you work with in the plumbing business than in Hollywood? What's the difference? People are people. And I also think our ministry, our our field of influence is whoever we're with. So it's you don't have to be an actor, although, praise the Lord, Adventures In Odyssey has certainly helped, you know, affect a lot of people's lives. But if I weren't... you know, you're a nurse, your your faith goes with you, whoever you're with. And as far as being hard in Hollywood, I don't think people are any less delicate in Hollywood than they are anyplace else. Do you?
Michelle Rayburn 17:06
No. And thank you for that reminder, because I really, I think sometimes we do think we need to preach, and really how we conduct ourselves and how we live says so much more than if we get all preachy with people.
Katie Leigh 17:20
There's yeah, there's, it's, it's, it's a losing battle, just look at Facebook. There's no point in that. And really, our goal is to develop a relationship with Jesus, and God, and work on ourselves. Because that's enough. (laughter)
Michelle Rayburn 17:39
I want to talk about more of your story, too. And I know that since you're human, there's no possibility that you've escaped any struggles in life. And I know specifically—
Katie Leigh 17:49
Michelle Rayburn 17:52
One of the things that I know you you alluded to in our early communications before this was that you experienced our hurdle that you thought you weren't going to be able to go back from in your career. So I'd like to know a little bit more about that and how God came through for you.
Katie Leigh 18:09
Back in 2000, I was working, everything was swell. And . . . my husband went to prison. Okay? Let's just put it at that. And I was alone with my kids, and trying to figure out what to do. And I used to work pretty long hours, 12-hour days on movies, and I wanted to be home with them. And work was slowing down, at that time, because technology was changing. We'd had a strike. Stuff was going on in Canada. I mean, people are moving their work there to save money. But for me personally, at that time, I just couldn't talk about what was going on. And I wanted to be home. So I ended up substitute teaching. I pass the CBEST, and—that's why I got that degree, folks in broadcasting! It made all the difference. Has nothing to do with VoiceOver, trust me. But it did help with that.
Katie Leigh 19:07
And then, you know, I was on a whole different schedule. And I think because I had kind of been unavailable at work for a while, other people were taking my place, and it was really discouraging. And I kind of didn't (laughter) it didn't help that the sheriffs took our computers, either. So it was like starting over. And that was daunting. So um, you know, it took a while to get that stuff back. And then they started doing, um, I wasn't booking. I mean, I was doing a show called Totally Spies, and I was still doing Odyssey, but I remembered, I think I told my agents, "Don't call me unless there's a job. I don't want to audition. It's just too much to drive up there." And I was a little bit, maybe I was arrogant. I don't know, or practical, or both. But it was slow. So, here I was teaching. I was used to getting up at five in the morning and seeing if the phone's gonna ring and taking care of my family and . . . and then a lot of non-union work actually, that's the other thing because the business changed, and a lot of stuff went from union to non-union. And when you're in the union, you're not supposed to do non-union work. And then, eventually, God—it's so cool, I mean, now that I think about it, how things evolved. My daughter, my kids were in Young Life. Wildlife. And one day, and I might have been knowing about this before. They have what they called pay to play sites where they started popping up. I did get a computer. I loved the fact that I could record from home. When that happened, I was in heaven. I thought, "Oh, this is really good. This is going to make life a little easier." But so much stuff was non-union. So I had to make a decision of, you know, if I was going to do that kind of work or not. And I really wrestled, because you know, the Bible says, "Let your yes be yes. And your no be no."
Katie Leigh 21:20
When you join the union, you say you're not going to do anything else. There is a legal way to get around that, which eventually I did, because I felt it was necessary. Anyway. So they're in Young Life. And one day, my daughter's leaders come over, and there's a girl named Lisa Biggs. I don't know if people know her. She was one of my daughter's Young Life leaders. And she's also in voiceover. And she opened my eyes to a whole other world of business out there, that people were working all over the country, not in Hollywood, with their microphones, making a living. And I really thank her for for that, you know, conferences and people I met through her. And she knew Odyssey. She knew my work. So she was kind of a fan. And then the pay to play my husband actually—my, my second husband—we weren't married at the time, but he encouraged me to start auditioning.
Katie Leigh 22:28
And just having somebody say they wanted to hire me was...could make me cry. Because I'd sort of lost my identity. You know, I like I said, two identities. One was work. One was home. Yeah. And at home, I was just mom, and I didn't really want to bring Hollywood home. I don't live in Hollywood, I live a little farther away from there. And I was very protective. And I think part of that was influenced by the church too. I didn't know how to integrate the two they were so . . .like, I had a split personality. When I started doing some auditions and getting some work and learning how to use my computer, I it just, it hit me you know what, this is really who I am. This is really what I like to do. I found joy in teaching. And I learned how to teach, which helps me now that I'm a voiceover coach. So it all works together for good, praise the Lord. You know, he did that. And you know, without my faith, I don't think I could have gotten through that period of time. Anyway, you know, just trusting God. And it's amazing how he's, you know, he says, he'll restore the years that the locusts have eaten, and I feel so thankful for that, because it's almost like it didn't happen. And that was like 10 years of my life before I got back into, you know, doing this full-time like I do, and, and if you live long enough, and you've done enough work years ago, you become a celebrity. And now I have these conventions to go to, and I meet people who grew up on my work. But you don't know at the time that you're doing it. Just like, you know, you told me you used to be a nurse, you don't know what seeds were planted or who you helped their kids. I mean, a lot of the people I meet are in their 30s or 40s, now say, "Oh, yeah, I watch these shows. And it made such a difference. And you were such a role model." I'm like, "Wow, that's great." When they were seven, they couldn't tell you that. Now they can.
Michelle Rayburn 24:46
Katie Leigh 24:47
So you know, I'm just thankful to still be alive and get to reap the benefits of that. Right? That was one of the big things that I had to overcome, and I'm thankful to God that he got me through that.
Michelle Rayburn 25:01
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Michelle Rayburn 26:13
Sometimes when I get talking with a guest, I get carried away, and we go into a new avenue of conversation. And after we recorded our session, Katie messaged me to say you know, there's a rest of the story. There's a comeback story here. So I want to just interject here a little bit with that. Katie said that once she started learning how to grow her own business and taking more animation gigs and working from home, more jobs started to come her way. And she learned how to use modern social media techniques. She built her own home studio, and she expanded her business to include coaching, going to conventions, and doing public speaking. And so I just want you to know that there is a, I don't know, it's not really a happily ever after, because we all know challenges come our way. But I do want you to know that after Katie went through that really difficult season, God took her in a new direction and brought back her career in unexpected ways. All right, let's continue with the chat that I had with Katie.
Michelle Rayburn 27:16
When you're a voice actor, people don't know as much about what's going on in your life as they do—you know, it seems like Hollywood actors in films, their public life is very public.
Michelle Rayburn 27:30
Social media. And yet, you know, like the kids at home listening to you have no idea what's going on in your life, and you have no idea how much you're blessing them. So there have been many times in our life when my boys were little were our family was going through something difficult, for example, a big move and a career change that took my kids out of their hometown and away to a new town. They processed that through the stories in Adventures In Odyssey. And, you know, like, they listened to those stories. And because they saw those, they decided our family could also be like the Barkley family and we would be fine. So all these things that God is working out together little pieces that we don't even know where those paths cross. (laughter)
Katie Leigh 27:30
Katie Leigh 28:14
So it's so amazing. And I can see, your audience can't see you. But I know it makes you emotional. You're telling me that, and if you go on that Facebook group, you hear stories of how this, I mean, "this helped me get through a crisis" or "I was suicidal," or I didn't know... And "these are my friends. I didn't have many friends. But the people in Odyssey are my friends." And it's kind of overwhelming to hear that. I know it is for Phil Lollar and me, you know, we talk about it. I mean, he's the creator. He's the writer who knew after three years, I remember saying to the producer, we're gonna do another year? What? More? How long are we going to do this? I mean, me, I just read the scripts. That's all I do. The people who are writing these have, seriously, you know, are inspired. And it means a lot to a lot of people who they try to connect with so many relevant situations. And, you know, some of the shows are goofy, and some are historical. But also many of the topics really hit home for parents and children. And, like Phil always says, you know, some parents just send their kids to go listen, but he'll say, "You know, why aren't you listening with your kid and hear what they're hearing? And have it be something to talk about."
Michelle Rayburn 28:17
Katie Leigh 29:52
It's remarkable how many things they've, topics they've covered with over 950 episodes that can really make a difference and help people in their lives without being obvious about it. I guess I mean, there they are, and they aren't they're not, you know, preaching necessarily, although it it's in there, it just kind of all depends. People identify with different characters. I mean, I get women who say, you know, Connie Kendall is like my best friend. I, you know, and I don't even know sometimes the difference between me and her. So that's a little—
Michelle Rayburn 30:35
I wondered about that. What happens when you've played a role for this many years?
Katie Leigh 30:41
It's one big hot mess. It's (laughter) You know, when Will and I, Will Ryan and I who played Eugene, when we wrote, If you see our book, we have a book we put together called Adventures in Oddity. And it's available on Amazon and autographed copies are available through me through my website, or if I show up anywhere. And I found a picture. I mean, when you talk about how, what God has done. Will and I were friends. We worked on a show called Dumbo's Circus together. The Disney Channel, we did stuff before that. We were buddies. And I thought I wanted to do commercial work. So I asked him if he would pose with me for some pictures. We have this picture, if you see the cover of our book, where we look like we work with like college kids at a soda fountain. And I found the picture about 10 years ago, I said, "Will, we look like Connie and Eugene," and this was before they ever cast . . .
Michelle Rayburn 31:47
Oh, my goodness.
Katie Leigh 31:48
...Adventures in Odyssey. It was like a couple years before Odyssey. And I said, "We should give this to Focus. This is a neat picture." And he said, "No, no, no, no. We'll save it for our book." I said, "What book? He goes, "We'll write a book." All right, whatever. Will's a man have a million ideas all day long. I was okay. And so his premise is we'll write a book that proves once and for all that we're nothing like the characters we play on Adventures In Odyssey, which is really not true, because we are very much that we're very much like our characters. So it's written in dialogue form. And it's fun to read. And that's how we ended up putting that together. We are we you know, you bring yourself to the role. If you don't—I heard I was listening to a different podcast this morning about voice acting. And I never heard this quote before. But they said, let's see, how did it go? "If use your head, you're dead. Use your heart, you're smart." And we bring our hearts we will bring our own personalities.
Katie Leigh 32:53
You know, they wrote this character, Connie, who I could totally relate to. My parents were divorced when I was three. I grew up in California. I wasn't that much older than her when we started. So I could remember. And so, you know, I brought my own truth, my own experience to a part. And I'm so thankful. It's like my one role I don't really change my voice for, you know. I get to be myself. So, yeah, you know, people sometimes will write to me with, like candid conversations with Connie. And I have to remind myself, I have to remind myself, I am not Connie. And I'm not a trained therapist. And I'm not, you know, I can't—you should really not be talking to me about these things. Maybe you know this is... But they, people connect me, with her, and I feel like her in a lot of ways. So I mean, I lived these parallel lives for 34 years. I know Connie's life and Odyssey and my own life here. And of course, my best friends work on the show.
Michelle Rayburn 34:08
That's wonderful to have too.
Katie Leigh 34:10
Michelle Rayburn 34:11
Have there been some times where you've had a time where you've sensed God is asking you to lay aside your dream in any way? Or has it always been like, I know you talked about that, that pause that you had when you were teaching for a while. Have there been any other times?
Katie Leigh 34:29
You know, I always ask God to guide my steps. So you know, I think one of my favorite verses in Nehemiah, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." Not my work, not my, you know, who I am, who I know, what my kids do. No. You know, it comes from God, and if I feel like I'm in his will, I'm actually pretty content. But, you know, this funny story about Odyssey is I told you that was after I was in the church and wanting to serve in ministry, and I got rejected from the drama club at the church because they felt I hadn't been a Christian long enough. Like, I have a SAG card! What is the matter with you people? But trusting God, and then they told me they were writing this part for me at Focus, because I had started working over there, because I knocked on their door when I heard they were doing radio drama, which is my favorite thing. And they said, we got this part, you're gonna, you know, you're gonna have you do it. And I kept waiting and waiting. And I was pregnant with my first kid. And it was supposed to happen in the spring, it was supposed to happen in the summer. And then they called me in the fall, six days after he was born. And all I wanted to do is be the most perfect Christian mom on the face of the earth. Right? So that was my fantasy. But when they said, "We're ready, can you come in?" And I was like, "I just had a baby. No, I can't." And I actually said, "You're gonna have to find somebody else."
Katie Leigh 35:44
And that was like, I felt like Abraham sacrificing my . . . I mean, that was I, I thought this is more important, and they're ready to record, and I'm not. And I let it go. And it was so sad. I mean, I was happy to have, you know, my baby. But then about six weeks later, they called me and they said, "Are you ready now?" Wow. I was like, you gotta be kidding me! Wow! Um, what am I going to say now? Like, well, can I bring my baby? And that kind of caught them off guard. And they said, "Well, this is Focus on the Family, I guess, so..."
Katie Leigh 37:03
Well, I've been nursing, and you are an hour away. And so I started my first Connie Comes to Town was with my baby and his little carrier seat sitting in, you know, having somebody watch. And while we were in the studio.
Michelle Rayburn 37:03
Michelle Rayburn 37:08
I'm thinking about the listener out there who has a dream, who has sensed God saying, "You are uniquely gifted for this." And I wonder, what do you say to that person who is facing some sort of sacrifice where they feel as if they have to set aside their dream? What do you say to that person in that moment?
Katie Leigh 37:39
You know, I think I'm sure it depends on the circumstances. But I always believe that, you know, and we hear this all the time. God doesn't necessarily say no when he's saying not yet. And, you know, and I think it's, it does, it is a trial to find the joy in whatever task you have at hand. And, you know, there—I have a good friend, for instance, she's a great actress. She raised her kids, she did community theater, she never got an agent, never focused on herself until her kids grew up. And now she's doing commercials. You'll see her on. . . And she's working. But you know, I think if you are clear on what your priorities are, I think there's always an outlet for whatever your dream is. I really believe that. I mean, I—like I said, I didn't go into this profession to be famous. I came into it to have a paycheck and have fun. So we all have to do things sometimes to make a living. But God is so faithful. I mean, I am sure if somebody out there is feeling like, Oh, you don't know what I have to give up. No, I don't. But there are so many stories. Let's call them resurrection story of careers and lives. And, you know, I had to give up a lot of stuff at one point, a lot of stuff. And I just kept my eyes on God. I mean, you have to. You can't look at your circumstances. Our God is so amazing. And as you get older, you might be really young who's listening to this. . . There's so much more to life and what you know. And I think when you get older you see it I mean, I met a you know I met a pilot with you know, cerebral palsy—an airplane pilot who, you know, got his license who over—you know, there's so many things that can be overcome that may not seem real dark at the moment.
Katie Leigh 40:10
And the other thing is Phil Lollar always says, "Life is story." Talks about story arcs. That's his favorite thing to talk about—a shoutout to Phil. But he'll say, in like a story is usually like the law of nature, I guess. And we all get these valleys. That's not the end of the story. And then you get the valley and the mountain top and you're just in the process to get up. So don't stop what you're doing. Don't lose your dream. Just with short-sightedness. Sometimes things are just temporary.
Michelle Rayburn 40:59
I always tell people in your 30s and 40s, it isn't too late to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.
Katie Leigh 41:04
Oh, heck no. No. I mean, I know so many people. I know so many people in my business who started their careers after their kids are in like, here's a good example. Let's say they are a nurse. Okay. And they decided they really want to do voice over. Well, you know what, that's a specialty kind of voice over, medical narration, that's a skill you can apply to that. If you're home, I remember—because I live in a kind of nice part of town—when my kids were born. And I would go to the Mommy and Me group, like, there were like three lawyers in the group. And you know, this and that, but it's all you can have it all, but not necessarily all at the same time. That's what I learned when I was younger. You know what, you can't do it all at the same time well.
Michelle Rayburn 41:23
That's so true.
Katie Leigh 41:44
You can do it badly. You know, but wherever you are at any moment, and it's so hard, but just try to give your full attention. And you know, then the time will come for this other thing to happen. Kids grow up really fast. I left my dream home to move closer to my kids' school and which was really dumb, because it was only when a to eighth grade. And then they were out of that school. And here I was, you know, I sold a house. Because I wanted to be close my— I have a daughter who's a type one diabetic. I have another child who was adopted from Romania when he was five. And they both sort of have special needs. And I was trying to make life easier, I guess. After I left my house, it showed up in LA magazine as one of the 10 best streets in LA County, and like, oh my gosh, why did they do that for temporary reward? So I think don't be short-sighted. What you see in front of you is so just the tip of the iceberg. You aren't really giving up your dream, you're just giving maybe putting it aside for now and see what you can do that keep your skills up. You know, volunteer. There isn't anything at a school that can't use somebody who's good at something. Right? So, you know, I was library mom, I got to read out loud to the kids until they didn't want me there anymore.
Michelle Rayburn 43:35
I love your story, because you've shared so many things that dovetail really well with the life repurposed. Just thinking about how God takes difficult circumstances sends us in different directions. And I know I want to save your voice, because that's how you make your living. So I'm not going to make you talk for much longer here. But I know that you like to speak and you talk about how your goals and your identity and all of that can intersect with unusual circumstances and in finding that sweet spot there. So I know that Katie is looking for opportunities to speak. Also, you have a YouTube show that I've only caught a couple of episodes of, but tell us the name of that.
Katie Leigh 44:18
Tell Ya Later. Yeah, that actually is the name of the show. Yeah, we started it based on, all on that book. And then, you know, we recorded—
Michelle Rayburn 44:31
Adventures in Oddity.
Katie Leigh 44:32
Adventures in Oddity. And then we added 58 pages of a bonus chapter and we have an audio version of the book. Then we did a video. My husband said it would be fun to watch you and we'll read your bonus chapter. And then COVID came, and we're like, oh, you know what, why don't we try to YouTube? And we had so much fun. So the way we—here's another cuckoo thing, right? So, they were both insistent on doing this YouTube show. And I was like, okay, whatever. And then, so they're coming over to the show like, wait, are you ready to do this show? I'm like, we don't even have a name for the show. How are we supposed to introduce the show? We haven't even come up? What are we supposed to say? Welcome to our show. Welcome to, we'll tell you later. And anyway, that's how we got the name of the show. Tell Ya Later. So and it actually was apropos because we, like most voice actors, I think we have ADHD. And so we get distracted and change it. So we net won't don't finish a lot of thoughts. So our motto is
Michelle Rayburn 44:51
I found that entertaining.
Katie Leigh 45:42
"Where you learn so much about so little, and vice versa." We were supported on Patreon. I mean, for those people who don't know, my dear sweet friend Will passed away in November.
Michelle Rayburn 45:55
Katie Leigh 45:55
And so that kind of threw a wrench into everything. But we're still doing the show. Anyway, we have supporters on Patreon. So we started a couple other shows just for the patrons. One is called Welcome to Later, where we try to finish the thoughts that we started on Tell Ya Later as two very interesting British type people (changes accent) who, you know, are here because, well, we have to do something. And so we're, we're trying to be of service. We had a lot of fun doing that, and Adventures in Popcorn. And so part of the idea, for those of you who get frustrated, and I have no control over this 'cause I'm not the producer, there's more of the shows for the patreons than there is on YouTube, so patrons, the patrons on Patreon, so...
Michelle Rayburn 46:51
I know, I get, yeah.
Katie Leigh 46:52
It's supposed to, but it is on Anchor too. You will get the the abridged version of the show, but it's fun. Thank you for talking about it.
Michelle Rayburn 47:04
Yeah, yeah. So listeners who want to find you, where can they find your book or your show?
Katie Leigh 47:10
I guess the best place is to start out at my website, which is katieleigh.com. That's, I'm sure you'll have it. L-e-i-g-h. Yeah.
Michelle Rayburn 47:20
I will link to that in the show notes for sure.
Katie Leigh 47:22
And if there's something you can't find my website, just email me. Oh, yeah. Because I don't know if you saw I started I created some Connie candles. Did you see my candles?
Michelle Rayburn 47:37
I saw that. And I also saw some scrubbie things on your YouTube shows. So you're very crafty.
Katie Leigh 47:42
Yes. I make scrubbies.
Michelle Rayburn 47:47
Katie Leigh 47:48
Well, yeah, Will says we'll call it Scrub-Ya-Later. Scrub-ya-laters, so every month we have a drawing for the patrons they get a scrub-ya-later with a little personalized tag in there. So they're very handy. And Connie candles. They look like real ice cream, and they smell amazing. Chocolate. And raspberry ripple has a little, you know ...shout out—I don't know what you call it—to Whit's End. But we have—
Michelle Rayburn 48:17
A little flavor of Whit's End.
Katie Leigh 48:19
Yeah. So you know, that's what I'm saying. There's always a way to be creative and find some satisfaction in life outside of changing diapers. And that's the other thing you know what I think I just want to add . . . (pause) You could get depressed, doing the same thing over and over day in and day out. And I think it's really important for a mom to take a little time for themselves. And don't feel guilty about it. Because you'll be such a better mom and a better person and you'll feel good in your brain will get refreshed. When I was raising my kids, when they were babies, some of my friends from church we started this thing might have been once a month or every couple nights called girls night out or something. But we—'cause we were good Christian moms, we didn't leave the house till our kids went to sleep. Our husbands wouldn't have to do anything. And we'd go to someone's house. We'd bring our own mug so they wouldn't have to do any dishes. And just get together and chat without our kids. And then we ended up doing like clothing exchanges, "Hey, this doesn't fit me anymore." And I'm like, "Does anybody want this?" You know how, and so it didn't cost anything, but it was a great way to socialize as an individual. I don't know that just popped into my head. That was fun.
Michelle Rayburn 49:42
Well, it's been really fun to talk to you. Speaking of fun, so I've enjoyed this time together. Do you have any final words as we say goodbye to our listeners?
Katie Leigh 49:58
Watch Tell Ya Later. Like and subscribe to the channel, and come see me if I ever go anywhere. Please come say hi, because I would love to. Hopefully we'll do—our Fort Blanket Revue is our live radio show that we've taken on the road up until recently. And if anybody's interested in voice over, there's a voice over a convention at Liberty University. I think it's in September, October, it'll be their third year called Sonic Con. And I'll probably be there. And I do teach. Oh, I do coaching too. So. Oh, yes, that's right. Voice coaching. Don't ask me for life advice.
Michelle Rayburn 50:47
Yeah. No life coaching. Well, thanks, Katie. Thanks for sharing just a little bit of your story today, and for encouraging my listeners.
Katie Leigh 50:57
Thank you so much for having me. You are a bright shining star.
Michelle Rayburn 51:01
Michelle Rayburn 51:03
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