Voice Coach Jennifer Hamady Talks About Casting


Ben Russell

Ben Russell

·8 min read

Jennifer Hamady is a voice coach and board-certified counselor specializing in technical and emotional issues that interfere with self-expression. With offices in Washington DC and New York City, Jennifer works in private practice with musicians and others to discover, develop, and confidently release their personal, professional, and creative potential. Her clients include Grammy, American Music, and Country Music award-winners, performers in Emmy and Tony winning productions, and corporate clients across an array of industries, including IBM, The American Bar Association, Merck and Wells Fargo.

Jennifer sat down with us to chat all things casting.

Tell us about you and your career. When & how did you get started? I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. My first professional gigs were singing the National Anthem for the Washington DC United, Capitals, and Wizards, starting at around the age of 15. From there, I studied music in college while performing in shows and working in studios. After graduation, I worked on my first record and got the lead role in my first national tour.

Tell us about your credits. What have you worked on? I’ve been really lucky. Many years of paying dues eventually paid off, and I’ve had the privilege of touring, recording, and/or performing with Wyclef Jean, Def Leppard, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Christina Aguilera and others. I also was a lead singer in Cirque du Soleil’s world tour of DELERIUM for two years. All truly special experiences.

Are you working on anything cool right now? Now in my 40s, and with a young family, my focus has shifted to voice and performance coaching. I’m also a therapist, having discovered that so many seemingly technical issues are actually caused or exacerbated by emotional ones. I write frequently on the topic for Psychology Today and in my own books.

How do you feel about the casting process? Easy, hard? How did you first navigate it? Well, it certainly takes some getting used to! But I found that just like dealing with performance anxiety, the more I got up again and again and auditioned, the more comfortable I felt. I’ll never forget this one time… I got a last-minute call to audition in LA to sing backup for Rod Stewart. It was the next afternoon, and I had to be back in New York the day after for an industrial gig, singing a pitch for a pharmaceutical company. So I booked a flight, went out, sang, and took a red eye back for my New York performance. While that was going on, I got a call back from Rod Stewart’s team, who wanted me in LA again that evening! So back again I went on a flight that afternoon, singing around 8pm before passing out in a hotel. I didn’t get the gig, but I did my absolute best and am proud that I always said YES to any and every opportunity that came my way. I remember often thinking something was impossible, or unreasonable, like that audition. And then I would do it anyway.

What advice do you have for people about to go on their first audition? For starters… say yes to everything. Not only to develop the skill of extending yourself again and again, but as well, you never know where you’ll make the relationships that will develop into meaningful professional opportunities and friendships. This includes attending all kinds of casting calls, even those you may not feel are entirely suited for you and even some you think are ‘beneath’ you. Getting yourself in front of agents and supervisors is always a good thing, as is humility. And the more practice, the better.

Specifically, for those auditioning for the first time, I have two bits of advice. The first is to Practice, Practice, Practice! And film yourself while doing so, so you can see how you actually occur rather than how you think you’re doing. When you do go in, do your absolute best– no excuses– then move onto the next audition.

The other thing I’d say is to anticipate and embrace your performance anxiety. Resisting it is not only futile, it tends to make it worse. Let the heightened adrenaline and energy fuel rather than hinder your auditions and performances. Remember too that everyone gets nervous. We’re all in this thing together.

What’s the best/worst part about the casting process? Obviously, it can be nerve-wracking. But I think the biggest challenge is that you’re not always able to get feedback on what did and didn’t work… feedback that would be so helpful to your growth and development. On the positive side– if you choose to see it this way– you’re getting the opportunity to practice your craft and performance for free. Once you’ve started to make a name for yourself, you will begin to get that desired feedback, as well as coaching and relationships that will help you to become your best.

What’s your favorite TV show of 2020? Honestly, I don’t watch a whole lot of TV. I love Bill Maher and check out Curb Your Enthusiasm now and again when I need a laugh. I loved all of the seasons of Homeland.

Where can we find you?