Marinda Botha is a a professional voice over artist currently living in Centurion, South Africa. She studied Performing Arts in Pretoria and then swiftly jetted off to London, where she lived for eight years. She gained experience in the British voice-over field but also did some theatre performances, created a one-woman show and collaborated with other UK actors.
My time in London provided me with so much insight into what makes me South African. It also gave me a valuable gift: it yielded the secret to what connects us all as human beings, regardless of nationality.
– Marinda Botha
Below Marinda shares the beginning of her new journey creating South African audio books…
…by Marinda Botha
Storytelling is the glue that cements friendships. Stories build bridges between strangers. Telling familiar tales makes us feel more at home. You get the idea.
Now, my first voice over job in the UK was for a pharmaceutical company, at this very snazzy recording studio in the heart of London. A big, big building, glass panels everywhere, state of the art recording facilities and a director who couldn’t speak a word of Afrikaans.
This was not unusual, of course. I was in Britain, after all, home to the queen’s English. What made it unusual was that the voice over I had to read was in Afrikaans. I was in London reading an Afrikaans advertisement that was to be aired on a South African radio station! How odd and exhilarating it felt to me. That was my very first taste of the voice over industry – I left South Africa so quickly, after my studies, that I didn’t get a chance to do any local voice over jobs at all.
Well the recording session went smoothly. More importantly, the bug had bitten. From that moment onwards, I adored doing voice overs. I had the opportunity to do many more recordings, not all in my mother tongue, but my South African accent was always a hit – the Brits seem to love the sound of it. (How odd, I thought, again.)
The idea for the audio book company started on a bus.
As a South African expat in the UK, I was spending yet another cold Christmas away from my family. I was missing the warm, sunny beaches and generally feeling homesick for all things South African.
Like most city dwellers I commuted by bus and train to work. From my first day in London, I noticed the amount of reading material people brought with them, to pass the standard hour-long journey to their destinations. I also noticed how many people preferred to cocoon themselves in other worlds, plugging their ears with mini headphones attached to MP3 players, IPods and Cell phones.
And that’s when the idea struck.
Wouldn’t it be great if I could listen to South African stories, told by someone with my own accent? I’d love to have my nostalgia fed and satisfied by stories from home, whether it be drama or comedy. As long as it made me feel connected to my people.
Almost four years down the line, that initial idea shaped itself into a company. I returned to South Africa three years ago and started implementing my ideas, speaking to writers and gaining support from my friends in various art-related fields. Beta Than Paper Productions, a modest audio book production company, was born out of a hunger for fresh South African stories. The website itself went live at the beginning of April 2012.
Currently there are 14 audio books available, 8 Afrikaans and 6 English short stories. The short story audio books are aimed at people on the move and those unable to easily access South African books. All the contributors are South African: writers, voice artists, musician and illustrators.
In the future, I would also like to make audio literature available in all 11 South African languages. This is a long term goal and will be a challenge. I do believe that anything is possible though. I also believe that things take time.
Some dreams need to hibernate and resurface when they are ready. Sometimes it’s best to learn a skill on your feet, to do your utmost to swim when you are thrown into the deep end. Sometimes one needs to leave your home in order to find it again.
And most importantly, stories connect us all.
Marinda Botha, Owner of Beta Than Paper Productions
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