Janelle Tedesco is an audiobook narrator and an actor. She was trained in Musical Theater and has performed all over the world. One highlight of her career was the National Tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring the legendary Ann-Margret. That show was life changing in more ways than one because it was where she met her husband, musician and song-writer, Chis Tedesco. Now they have two beautiful children. They also share a recording studio in their home, where Chris makes music and Janelle tells stories. Most recently you may have seen the entire Tedesco Family on TV playing in a Water Park in an I Love NY Commercial.
How did you get started narrating audiobooks?
A friend of mine introduced me to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. She was working there at the time and knew that I am a SAG actor. As a member, I was able to use their Recording Studios, learn how they work, take free classes and free sessions with an audio engineer. I expected I would just work on commercial VOs but as soon as I started reading books, I discovered a new love!
You focused on musical theater at the Boston Conservatory, where you received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. How has your experience in that medium affected your audiobook performance career?
Boston Conservatory had a very well rounded program. As part of my curriculum I had to take Speech every year. Within the speech classes we covered accents and dialects and I learned how to write them out with the phonetic alphabet. I have used that a lot. And as a professional singer, I have great training in breath work, which is important and necessary when reading long passages.
You have acted on stage, behind the camera, and behind the microphone. Which do you prefer?
Is this a trick question? They are all different and I love them all differently. I suppose my heart may always be with the stage but I have chosen to take a break from that life and schedule because I have a family. Eight shows a week, working nights and weekends, would not leave me with any time to be with my young school age children. I am so grateful that I have found two other mediums that I love, and both work very well with my mom schedule!
In my review of This Bitter Treasure, I had the following to say about your performance: “Janelle Tedesco gives the narration of the audio version of this book. I really enjoy her performance, with each character having his or her own distinct voice and accent. I also appreciate the way the individuals have not only unique voices, but particular characteristics of each individual come through in the narration.” How do you make your readings come alive as you do?
Thank you so much! When I enjoy the story it makes it very easy to get into the world! I am visualizing every character as I speak their lines. I am picturing what is happening as I describe a scene or an action. My goal is that it comes alive for you as a listener simply by bringing it to life myself.
How do you determine what voices to use for any given character?
Strangely, I don’t. If the book is well written, the voice is already there, I just have to find it. Most of the time I can hear it in my head as I read through the book the first time and get to know the character. Then it just becomes my job to honestly represent the character the best that I can. It is only for the smaller characters with fewer lines that I feel like I have to find a voice. At that point I just try to choose something that will be different from the other character in that scene so that it isn’t confusing to the listener.
Do you prefer to narrate your favorite books to read, or do you prefer narrating other materials?
I admit it, I prefer to narrate books that I love to read. I know that this is a business but it’s also an art and a passion. Narrating a book takes a lot of hours and life is too short to spend that many hours in a booth just “working.” I want to spend those hours enjoying what I am doing. Sometimes I get so juiced up from the really exciting scenes, I feel like I just went through an incredible experience! That’s what it’s all about!
You label yourself on your website as “actor ~ mom ~ narrator ~ wife ~ singer ~ daughter ~ stunt woman ~ friend ~ dancer ~ yogi ~ model ~ grateful.” You play a lot of roles. How do you balance such a busy life?
Yes, I am many things, thank goodness, because I never get bored. As far as balance, I just do the best that I can. I love my life, I am very passionate and sometimes I put too much on my plate. I give my all to whatever I am working on at the time, whether it’s a project, an audition, or cooking dinner for the family, and then I move on to the next thing and that seems to work for me.
What’s your favorite part about narrating audio books?
The freedom! As an actor you get to become another person but other than some very rare cases, an actor is limited by their appearance. So basically, I can play adult Caucasian women. In audiobooks, I can be anyone: different ages, different sex and ethnicity. Some of my favorite characters have been a Native American man, a troubled teenager, a young black man, a gruff NJ cop, an alluring French woman, and even an elderly man recovering from a stroke. I have created entire worlds in my recording studio with just the words, my voice and a microphone!