Mary McKitrick ’78 always wanted to be an actress, but didn’t want hundreds of eyes focused on her. So, after a career as a biologist, she disembodied herself: She became a professional voice.
McKitrick, 53, is developing a second career in the basement of her Northampton, Mass., home, producing voiceovers for everything from real estate Web sites to driver’s-safety education courses to documentaries about Ellis Island.
Like many people moving into a second or third career, McKitrick is far from the course she originally took. And that’s just fine with her, she says.
“Life is long enough to do more than one meaningful thing,” says McKitrick, who made the switch four years ago.
Recording from a soundproof studio just a few feet from her washer and dryer, McKitrick has taken advantage of changes in technology that have made do-it-yourself production efforts possible over the past few years. “Not so long ago, people recorded on a reel-to-reel with a razor blade. Now anyone can do it,” she says.
McKitrick specializes in accents. She has given voice to a love-struck British girl for a radio drama and produced an Italian voice for a TV commercial for designer sunglasses. “It’s very important to find a niche in voiceover,” she says. She also builds on her background as a biologist (she studied birds) and tackles specialized scientific and medical jobs, including narration for an online course for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
McKitrick majored in biology at Princeton and earned a doctorate before teaching in Michigan. She moved east about a dozen years ago to take advantage of some research fellowships, but found herself looking around for something new. “I loved doing evolutionary biology. But this is so different and so much fun,” she says.
It’s also changed the way she hears the world. McKitrick knows when the Wendy’s restaurant chain has a new voice, several movie trailers were put together by the same person, or the birdcalls in a movie scene are wrong.
“I’m not one to mute the commercials,” she says.