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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.


Ep166 Transcript: Interview with Kris Keppeler

December 11, 2023

Andrea Vahl: Do you think it’s too late to get started acting or voice narration? My guest today, Kris Keppeler got started acting in her forties and is still doing voice narration, dubbing, commercials, and acting in her sixties. Tune into today’s episode where we dive into how she does it and some tips for getting started.

Intro: Hello, dreamers. Welcome to the Late Starters Club, giving you the inspiration, mindset, and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Andrea Vahl: Hello, Late Starters! It’s your host, Andrea Vahl, and I am here with Kris Keppeler. She is a narrator, voice actor, actor, and writer, and she brings your content to life with words, sounds, and images. So she discovered her singing voice in junior high and she’s never quit using her voice to amuse and instigate.

But what I love is that she really didn’t lean into her acting until after 40, and we’re gonna dive into some of that and talk about her journey and talk about getting into your acting after 40, especially as a woman, right? It’s a little bit of a challenge. So welcome, Kris.

Kris Keppeler: Thank you so much.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. So why don’t you talk a little bit about the history of what you’ve done and talk about how you decided to get into acting.

[01:31] How Kris Got Her Voice Back (How She started acting)

Kris Keppeler: I’ve always been a singer. As you mentioned, I started in junior high choir and continued up through, junior college. And then I got bored standing close together in a black dress with lots of people on stage. And so I sort of backed off of it for a while, but then in my 30s, I miss singing.

I love to sing and it’s like I want to do this again. And so, I started looking around for a voice teacher and also, a blind date took me to a Gilbert and Sullivan production. On the program it said, we’re looking for chorus members and come audition.

So I knew nothing about auditioning. And so I just called them up and went and did it, anyway. And in their next production, I was a fairy in Iolanthe, and I got to have wings and carry a wand around. And that was a lot more fun than standing around in a black dress with a lot of people.

So, I found a voice teacher, and then I was in their next production as chorus member, and then it was like, gee.

I kind of like to be at the front of the stage.

And so that meant taking acting lessons.

Something I hadn’t really thought about, I had singing lessons off and on ever since I think high school. And so, it was difficult to get into acting at my age. At that point I was in my early forties. But I discovered once I got into it that I really enjoyed it.

And then it was like, okay, I’ve learned a few things. I’m going to actually audition and see if I can get to the front of the stage. And I did after several auditions. I started out with some musical theater. I was understudy to Aunt Eller in Oklahoma and actually ended up going on stage once as Aunt Eller.

The lead fell off the stage and hurt her knee. And I had four hours notice.

Andrea Vahl: That’s… Wow. You’ve got to be ready.

Kris Keppeler: I was ready. And I enjoyed that. It was quite the challenge. It’s okay, I’m going to keep doing this. One of the most fun things was singing the role of the mother Abbess in the Sound of Music.

And then it’s maybe I’d like to do some film and maybe I’d like to do just regular theater and I just, started pushing the acting envelope, got roles, started to get some roles in local films.

I’m a character actor so getting roles is not easy.

As a character actor, I’m not going to do the lead anyway. And I realized that, and I like doing character stuff, I love, especially love comedy and I love telling funny stories, and that’s how I got into my podcast.

Andrea Vahl: So you do podcasting, you’ve done a number of shorts, you’ve been in movies such as Seven Witches, A Perfect Life, lots of different shorts and movies and that’s awesome.

Kris Keppeler: Yes.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Are you LA based? I forgot to ask you.

Kris Keppeler: No. I’m in Seattle.

Andrea Vahl: Okay. So that’s the thing I love too, because I think people assume that you have to be based in one of the hubs. But there’s movies and productions happening everywhere.

Kris Keppeler: Yeah. Everywhere.

There are a lot fewer opportunities here but still. They’re still there.

Andrea Vahl: And you just plug into the community. Are you still taking acting classes?

Kris Keppeler: I’d like to take more classes than I have time to do. But, yeah, I still, where I can have a chance to train I continue to do that. I also have an agent in town. There aren’t just agents in LA and major hubs, there’s agents all over the U.S.

Andrea Vahl: So that’s important to know too. at what point did you decide to get the agent?

Kris Keppeler: Oh, I’d started doing film and someone said, Oh, you should see if you can find an agent. And, so I did.

Andrea Vahl: Does your agent bring things to you and you also find things?

Kris Keppeler: Both.

Andrea Vahl: So I think that’s super important for people to realize too. It’s not like you just sit back with an agent and then be like, all right, I’m done. You have to be watching

Kris Keppeler: Yeah. I’m always out there.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, for sure. For sure. What has been one of your most fun things to narrate? What have you enjoyed narrating?

[00:07:16] Krises favorite thing to narrate

Kris Keppeler: I love narrating the stories for my podcast because I love telling funny stories. That’s one of my favorites. But actually among audio books that I’ve narrated, I narrated a series it’s 18 books or something like that on Wicca. Something I knew nothing about. I’d never heard of it before. And it was really interesting to learn.

That’s one of the things I like about audiobooks is I get to learn so many different things. And then I learned a lot about pronunciation doing those books.

I remember looking at a word and going, not sure how to pronounce that. And then I pulled it up on my, computer and it’s okay, that’s what it sounds like. I would never have guessed in a million years.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that’s good that, it’s so nice in this time of the internet that there are so many pronunciations out there that are available. Have you had to do like different accents or things like that?

Kris Keppeler: Yes. I’ve done some different accents. That’s not my area of expertise, but yes, I have done different accents.

I think one of the most challenging books I did was a really short children’s book, I think was about 10 minutes. But it’s like A to Z animals.

And so there were 10 different animals that needed a voice. And she’s like, I want a very distinct voice for each one of them. And some were easy, bees are easy, snakes are easy, but what the heck does an anteater sound like?

Andrea Vahl: That’s funny.

Kris Keppeler: That took a while to come up with.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that is funny. And then how are you finding these narrating gigs? Is there a website where people are looking for narrators or is it on a general posting page? How are you finding the gigs?

Kris Keppeler: There are places where you can go audition like ACX and that is actually the back office to Audible. Authors go out there and they post, it’s like I want to make my book into an audio book and I’m looking for narrators so you can audition there.

There’s another place called Ahab Talent. And sometimes I just I’ve approached authors directly.

Andrea Vahl: That’s  great. I love that. And I think that the big message that I think is important for people is that it doesn’t matter that we’re older. Sometimes I think people think just younger people need younger people or people need younger actors or whatever.

And our voices and our representation is needed at every stage.

Kris Keppeler: It is.

Andrea Vahl: That is the huge thing. And I think can you can get into acting, you can get into voice acting narrating all there and especially now in this world of podcasting, people are, doing lots of different types of podcasts, like people are reenacting things or, dramatizing things or there’s so much content that needs someone to give a voice to it or be a face in that.

Kris Keppeler: And they need all ages. One of my recent projects has been dubbing foreign films.

Andrea Vahl: Oh, interesting.

Kris Keppeler: And it’s been all European films German, Italian, and French.

And, especially European films they don’t just cast young women, they have a really wide range.

And I have had the chance to voice some really amazing characters that are in my age group.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so fun. And you can do this from home. So it’s something you can do on your own time from home. How long does it usually take for a project? I mean, I guess it can really depend.

[00:11:46] How long does a project take?

Kris Keppeler: Oh, it can depend. A short voiceover or video testimonial is, an hour and a half if you’re doing an entire audio book. It can take you an entire month, so it, it really depends.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. And then for the for that, you really need some specialized equipment, right? You need it to be quiet. What did you need to set up in your home to get started doing this?

[00:12:10] Kris’s equipment

Kris Keppeler: I have my own home studio.

Luckily we had an alcove. We have an older home and house and alcove. We put up sound dampening foam in the alcove and then we put a couple of sound dampening curtains around the outside. And that’s my studio and it works perfectly. I know people who use their walk in closet. You just have to, it has to be a quiet space where the sound doesn’t bounce around. So yeah, but you do need your own special space for that. And you need, a computer, you need a mic. generally you want to use a better mic than a, Than a USB that plugs into your computer. And so if you use a regular condenser mic, you need a preamp to power it.

So that’s all, I mean, those are the basics. You need to learn how to use a recording program. there’s one out there that’s free Audacity. I never liked that one, so I found one that most people don’t use but it’s actually a suite of audio visual products, and I use most of the little programs.

I probably use the audio recorder editor most, but there’s a video editor, which I also need because. As an actor nowadays, everything, all your auditions are done at home, which means I had to, learn lighting, you know, all that stuff. And I had to learn how to edit.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that’s a great question. So now when you’re submitting something for an audio book, you’re not having to edit that at all, right? Is that correct? Or are you submitting something edited?

Kris Keppeler: Yeah, I taught myself how to edit. As a voice actor, you’re going to have to have some basic editing techniques. It’s just, it’s necessary. I taught myself a little more and I taught myself how to actually produce an audiobook too. That, that was a challenge.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah.

Kris Keppeler: But, I’m glad I did it.

And I recently. I taught myself how to punch and roll, which is a special technique for audio books. It lessens the backend editing time. Otherwise, if you’re doing an audio book, you have to hire an editor and that’s not cheap. yeah, and like I say, you have to learn some editing skills anyway.

Andrea Vahl: Right. So it’s a little daunting. So as far as getting into the business, it’s not too difficult, you have to have some equipment, but you also have to have a little bit of tech savvy, right?

Kris Keppeler: Yes, you do. Yes.

Andrea Vahl: You can’t be afraid of the computer.

Kris Keppeler: No, you can’t be afraid of the computer. No.

Andrea Vahl: But even if you’re acting right, because if you are having to, submit your auditions, with your home equipment, then you do have to know that too. That’s interesting.

Kris Keppeler: I have actually used my phone. My phone actually makes excellent videos. And it’s not even an iPhone. it still makes excellent videos. So, Yeah, that’s what we use.

Andrea Vahl: I always like to see what questions people gravitate towards.

[00:15:43] Kris gets Help with Marketing

Andrea Vahl: And one of the things you wanted to highlight was the importance of getting help with marketing your business.

So talk a little bit about that and what that’s been like for you.

Kris Keppeler: Yeah, that’s been the most difficult. That is, I thought I could teach myself. And I haven’t really had a lot of luck. It’s just not my area of expertise. And so I’ve just learned, I’m still learning but I found for me that the best way to market myself is networking speaking in front of groups.

I’ve spoken to some author groups spoken at some conferences, virtual conferences about audio books. I have a short course out there, audio course on audio book narration for authors. And so that’s, for me, that’s been the one way that I can easily market myself. But it’s, it’s been a very long road to even learn that.

That’s still the hardest part for me.

Andrea Vahl: It is. It’s the hardest part for a lot of people, it’s always a challenge. Marketing is challenging. And one of the things you’ve been doing that I saw is you put some YouTube shorts out there.

Kris Keppeler: Oh, yes.

Andrea Vahl: So talk about what you’re doing with that and getting out there. Because I think a lot of people are afraid to put themselves out on video, right? It’s that’s even if you’re an actor, even if you’re a speaker, I am sometimes afraid to put myself out on video.

Kris Keppeler: Yes. Yeah, it was I had to push myself a bit. It’s just find something that people might find interesting and I’m still shaking it out as to what people do find interesting about what I’m saying, I go out and look at all my shorts that I’ve done and see, you know, how many views and if people like them or not, and then I’m going to use that to tweak future shorts, for what people like to hear about and it’s just find the best light, hold your phone up and start talking. It’s not that hard.

Andrea Vahl: hmm. Yeah. Yeah. The good thing is, they’re only a minute.

Kris Keppeler: Yeah. They have to be very short. You know, It’s like, wow. It’s not a lot of time. It’s not a lot of time at all.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. I say good thing, it’s also a bad thing. I’ve had so many shorts where I think I’m talking as fast as I can, and it’s 1.02.

Kris Keppeler: Ah yeah.

Andrea Vahl: Dang it. Dang it. Yeah. So, Yeah, but you know, you’re at, you know, kind of the interesting thing is what, what keeps you going? Like you’re a lot of times people think, Oh I’m going to retire and doesn’t seem like you’re slowing down with that.

Or, you’re out there doing things, getting out there. You’ve got an upcoming production.

[00:18:47] What is Keeping Kris Motivated

Andrea Vahl: What is keeping you motivated and going?

Kris Keppeler: I want to keep doing interesting things. And it’s I could just sit around, that’s not good for me. I’m going to get bored in a day if I do that a day or two, you know? I, I just really, you know, enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy the challenge. It’s I enjoy having challenges out there.

Yeah. To, some goals I want to, meet. And just, yeah, I don’t want to sit around.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, yeah, neither. I. don’t say that I am just, I don’t think I’m ever going to retire. It’s going to look different. It’ll look different, but I don’t think I’m ever going to retire. It’s just get out there and have fun and follow the interesting projects that, make life fun. What how have you run into like during this time you’ve been acting and trying to get yourself out there and submitting for roles and things like that. Have you found a time where you’ve been overwhelmed and you felt you just didn’t know how to get through and how what has helped you get through kind of a tough time?

[00:20:08] Kris Gets through Tough Times

Kris Keppeler: It’s just what can I do to change things up? That’s what I do. What can I do to change things up? What I’m doing now isn’t quite working. What can I do to change things up? Maybe this belonging to this group for a couple of years worked. It doesn’t work anymore. I’ll join another group.

I joined a small business platform, Alignable, and I was a local leader before the pandemic and putting together some face to face, which was difficult getting people to show up. And then during the pandemic, of course that quit, but then they decided they wanted to form groups, which is a big thing online now.

And, I’m like, oh, so they asked the local leaders. Would you like to form a group? And I’m like, wow, wouldn’t it be cool to have a group for creative businesses or artists who have a business. And they were like, Oh, you want arts and crafts?

Andrea Vahl: No.

Kris Keppeler: It’s artists, creative businesses, all types.

So I came up with a name that they like the Creative Arts Business Coalition. And I thought, Oh maybe I’ll have 250 people join. It’s been about three years now. I have 25, 000 members and and I love hosting, we have virtual events twice a month and I love hosting those and now I’m starting to get, people who are interested in my business because I am out there as the face of the group.

Andrea Vahl: Right.

Kris Keppeler: That’s been a great marketing thing for me.

Andrea Vahl: And sometimes you never know how that’s going to go. All of a sudden, you hit a nerve. You struck a chord with people who also realize they want to market their artistic, creative business. And it’s a hard thing to do as we have talked about getting out there and marketing with.

Kris Keppeler: So it’s been a great way for me to get out there and I’m like. Not really marketing and I’m really enjoying what I’m

doing and I really

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. I love that. That is awesome. That is awesome. I love to, I always love to, for those of you who are a long time listeners, you guys know I am a quote junkie. So I always love to hear someone’s motivational saying or inspirational quote on what keeps them going.

[00:22:43] Kris’s favorite quote

Kris Keppeler: Yes. I’m a fan of Mark Twain and in fact I have narrated A story of his that was really great. So, It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Andrea Vahl: I love that so much. I know I was It’s, the funny thing is I’ve been doing this podcast for about a year or a little over a year. And we’ve hardly had, I don’t think we’ve had any repeats. We’ve had someone else who had a Mark Twain quote, so I was like, Ooh, maybe this is going to be our first repeat, but nope, that was different.

Kris Keppeler: He has a lot of them, and I had never heard the story that I narrated. He has some really great stuff that people really know about that made it big. He wrote a lot of really great things.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And so what’s next for you?

[00:23:46] What’s Next for Kris?

Andrea Vahl: What are you excited about next? What are you looking to get into?

Kris Keppeler: Oh my gosh. I’ve actually been very busy and it’s I’m taking a breather this week just to pull things together. It’s okay, time to pull things together because I booked a training video the end of October. I like doing those, and that was through my agent.

And then I’ve been doing some writing. I actually did an article for Sound Sorceresses Newsletter. Which is a newsletter for female podcasters. And I’ve been doing, video testimonials. Which are literal, you know, it’s selfies, you know, selfies, they,

Andrea Vahl: They’re looking for a lot of that user generated content where you go in and do a testimonial. Those are really big right

Kris Keppeler: Yes, and actors are perfect to do that.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah.

Kris Keppeler: So if you think that’s a real person speaking

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Usually someone demoing or doing

Kris Keppeler: Yeah.

So sometimes they give me a script one that I just recently worked on. They didn’t even give me a script. They just gave me an outline of what they wanted me to talk about. So I’m like,

Andrea Vahl: Cool. All right.

That’s fun.

Kris Keppeler: That’s what I’ve been working on. And I’m always working on trying to get the word out on my podcast.

So if you’ve got boomers listening to this podcast, I have a podcast that has a lot of boomer stories. I narrate a lot of boomer stories.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. So great. Why don’t you share where people can connect with you? And we’ll have all these links in the show notes.

Kris Keppeler: Oh, okay. Great. It’s my podcast is, Does This Happen To

[00:25:42] Catch Up with Kris

Kris Keppeler: You? You can find it on YouTube. It’s under Kris Keppeler and and all the major platforms, Spotify, Apple Podcasts. Yeah. And I have a, yeah, I have a website, and actually if you just, I have a rather unusual name. And so if you plug my name in Google, My IMDB page will also come up.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah.

Kris Keppeler: Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn.

Andrea Vahl: Great. We’ll have all the connections there for you, but thank you so much Kris for coming on and sharing your ideas and thoughts about what you’ve been doing. And I think it’s just a fun, fun way to say, hey, it’s never too late to get into acting or voice acting or, voiceover, all kinds of things.

Kris Keppeler: Its never too late.

Andrea Vahl: Great. Thank you.

Kris Keppeler: Thank you.

Andrea Vahl: Hope that was helpful and make sure you grab the free guide top tools for late starters on the website at late starters club. com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.

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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.

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