Meet one of a thousand voices: Stefan Phang…a powerful voice for change

While on my journey to Singapore, I had the honor of spending time and interviewing this power voice for human rights and global change for my documentary “The Woman of a Thousand Voices” with producer/director Rob Hill.  You’ll see that interview and much more later, until, check out Stefan at work:

More about Stefan…

Stefan Phang is the Regional Director for Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), for the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Turkey Region (AMAT), at Sealed Air Corporation. Currently, Phang leads over 50 active projects in the region, mostly projects on child protection, anti-human trafficking, livelihood programs and disaster relief and rehabilitation.

Stay tuned for more content, rewards, and info about our re-launch!!  Here’s one of the videos of Stephan Phang, my latest interview in Singapore, for those of you who had trouble with the link yesterday!  More to come!

See “The Woman of a Thousand Voices”:

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My Soul is on Fire!!!

Hello Everyone!

I just flew back from Asia, it’s 2AM in So Cal, and my soul is on fire!  I recorded so many amazing voices in Asia over the past few weeks, not to mention the voices of the voices at Comic-Con prior to my departure,  I am positively swimming in phonemes and perspectives that have completely rocked my world!

As promised, I will be uploading videos, interviews, and stories from this last trip, along with those from the past 25 years, directly to you, my invaluable supporters.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now I need to hear from you:  Where would you like me to take you first?

Who would you most like to hear from?

Here are some choices of voices from the past 30 days, from the most entertaining to the most illuminating:

Comic- Con: 

Bob Bergen doing the Vagina Monologues as Tweety Bird and a bit o’ Hamlet as Porky Pig!

Debi Derryberry (Jimmy Neutron) E.G. Daily (Powerpuff Girls, Rugrats) and Julie Dolan (Princess Leia in Star Wars Rebels) talking shop!

VASTA Conference:

My new bestie Professor Hema Singh from Delhi, winner of Indian Television Academy Award for Best Actress, singing and discussing Rasas and dialect in India.

Dr. I Wayan Dibia, who taught 200 of us to perform Balinese monkey chant known as Kecak in a matter of hours.


Stephan, a hero who started a program called Soap for Hope, recycling hotel soaps to prevent disease in some of the world’s most impoverished slums, all while exposing and intervening in child sex tourism and trafficking.

“I started Soap For Hope – to help families so that they don’t have to make the heartbreaking decision of having to sell their kids.”

PLEASE respond in the comments and let me know where to take you first!

We need our champions now more than ever, so please consider re-sharing this campaign with your favorite people to help us reach our goal!



PS:  Also an option:  more about my unexpected family homecoming in Japan 🙂

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Once upon a time on planet earth, there lived a little girl who was fascinated with sounds.  Sounds of voices, sounds of instruments, sounds of machines, sounds of birds and frogs and birch leaves in the Minnesota wind.  Sounds of the big Ojibwa drum beaten by 5 men at once, chanting under their cowboy hats and glasses, with feathers hanging from their braids.  To four-year-old Eliza Jane, those drums were as tall as her chin and wide enough to swim in.

That was me.  I don’t remember much from the reservation, but I remember the three giant Ojibwe women who ran the daycare where I was learning to be a person, while my mom was busy working as a reservation legal aid attorney, fighting to protect the Ojibwe tribe from the federal government.  According to her, I talked more than everyone else at my daycare put together.  I wonder if that was annoying or entertaining to the people around me.  If my six-year old son is any indication, it was probably a little of both.

My best friend’s name was Raina Littlewolf.  We used to play her mini piano and make up songs.  I remember how she sounded.  I remember how the teenage boys at my dad’s school – named for chief Bug-O-Nay-Gee-Shig – (photo of Bug jacket) – sounded.  “Owah, man!”

And I remember how my dad sounded when he used to read me a story about a little native girl who sang to the Gunne Wolf,

“Kum quah kee wah, kum quah kee wah”

My daddy was a math and drama teacher at the time, and he played the clarinet and tenor sax.  He always spoke with different dialects as an extension of his self-expression, for color and emphasis, the way other people use volume, lilt, and pitch.  Dialects, accents, and different character voices came as naturally to me as vocabulary.  One day I would have to deal with boyfriends disdainfully telling me “use your real voice.”  I would also have to deal with record labels rejecting my demo for lack of a “signature sound.”  But I was free from that kind of arbitrary judgment at age four.  In my little world, I could be a shape-shifter if I wanted to be.

My mom and dad met at Northwestern University’s School of Speech.  My mom was directing my dad in a play, and she was looking for the French translation.  He had it in his back pocket.  I think he asked to borrow her car.  And the rest is, as they say, history.  They both were studying to be actors, but were turned off by the vanity and politics of the industry.  So they joined the Peace Corps and headed to Sarawak to teach English.

My understanding is that it kept my father out of the Vietnam war.  Their contribution to the war effort years later was to adopt an adorable 7 year old Vietnamese war orphan, my brother Yo Binh Jacob Schneider, who turned out to be a certifiable sociopath.  (But that’s a story for a later blog.  Stay tuned.)  My parents became disillusioned with the Peace Corps, feeling that they were taking jobs from locals, and came back early.  One of my favorite Peace Corps stories my mom tells is about asking for a dozen eggs at the grocery store in Malay, and, misplacing the emphasis, instead announcing in an entirely inappropriate way that she was pregnant.

“We al-WAYZ put zee em-PHAS-sis on zee wrong sil-LAB-ble,” Robert Easton would say, whenever he taught French dialects to a room full of voice actors.

When I finally got myself to Hollywood to join my fellow shape-shifters (aka “actors”), after a short summer stint at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute, (where got to take my first “dialects” elective) I looked up the man who would become my mentor, Robert Easton, “The Henry Higgins of Hollywood.”  I had already started a company called “Eliza Doolittle Dialects,” teaching other actors at UCLA to speak with different accents, so it was a match made in heaven.  (Until Bob eventually went nuts and decided I was trying to kill him.  Again, a blog for later – stay tuned.)  In the meantime, in order to get him to teach me what he knew, I would organize and promote classes for him to teach to other actors.  As much as (I later learned) he wanted to keep me in the dark as to the secrets of his genius, the man couldn’t resist a captive audience.

In my first dialect class at Northwestern’s NHSI, I was dismayed at the lack of authentic primary source material when it came to studying dialects (as was Bob, which was probably why he agreed to meet with me in the first place).  Even at the Samuel French bookshop in Hollywood, all I could find was a Dr. David Allen Stern imitating dialects, but no recordings of native speakers to speak of.  And so, at age 19, I determined that I would personally record all of the dialects of spoken English in the world, as a resource for actors like me.  And here we are, over two decades later, and I’m headed to Singapore to collect the dialects of the last remaining country in the world, where English is a first language, that I have yet to record!

Of course, the advent of the internet has made videos of native speakers and local radio shows easily accessibly to the savvy actor in the years since I first set out on my quest, but I wouldn’t trade the journey of the last 20 years for anything.  And the self-imposed parameters of beginning my mission to archive the world’s accents with the countries and regions where English is spoken as a first language, I realize, is probably as arbitrary as the idea that one woman could possibly ever collect all of the variants of spoken English in the world in her lifetime is ridiculous.  But I just don’t care!  Ya gotta start somewhere!  And really it’s all probably just an excuse to get out of my own skin and feel what it’s like to be one with ALL of humanity.

This little shape-shifter has absorbed so many people, so many souls, so many heartfelt perspectives and philosophies in rapid succession, I am simply bursting to share them with you.  Enter: this blog.  I have to tell you before we begin our journey around the world together, that you are in for far more than phonemes on this wild ride.  Your belief systems may be challenged.  Your world-view turned on its head, your prejudices exposed, and your love for humanity expanded.  I know mine was.

Are you ready?  Let’s go!!!

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BIG NEWS! Awards will begin to be released this week!

Yesterday, I was in Old Town San Diego, in 200 year old clothes, playing fiddle for the Mark Twain Festival.

he day before, I was in LA, back at Disney Character Voices, playing Elizabeth Swann for Disneyland’s new Pirates of the Caribbean show.  I made a session fee.  How much do you think Disneyland makes (lol)?

And today I fly to Oregon, where I hope to hitch-hike to the Eclipse with my fiddle, trading tunes for interviews, collecting Accents from the REST OF THE WORLD.  I will keep you posted.  In Singapore, due to the refreshing International scope of the VASTA conference, I collected not just 4 forms of Singlish and Singaporean, but voices from India, Mongolia, Bali, Tibet, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and China.  I can’t wait to share them all with you!  But for now, here’s why Singapore “doesn’t have a homeless problem.”  What do you think?

Stay tuned!!
Thank you so much for your support!!!

About this trip to Singapore…

One of the best things about this trip to Singapore is stopping in my husband’s ancestral home (Japan) on the way to and from. As excited as I am to record dialects in the only country (where English is a first language) that I have yet to excavate, I am equally enamored with the intersection of English and ALL Asian languages (especially the tonal ones- music and language and dialect, Oh My!). I must admit I began that (second and forthcoming) chapter of my research, despite my self-imposed mission to collect all of the dialects of the English-speaking countries first, in the Philippines while I was pregnant. I had begun Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Manilla, Seoul, and Hong-Kong, and had a ticket in my hand to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, but I couldn’t abide the threat of a malaria-ridden mosquito biting me in my sleep and thwarting the development of my unborn child.

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