In the award-winning documentary When We Were Kings, which chronicled boxer Muhammad Ali’s journey throughout many parts of Africa while training for his 1973 title bout with George Foreman, he marvels at his pilot’s fluency in three or four languages while lamenting “where I come from, we can’t even speak English ‘good’.”
Liz de Nesnera, a native New Yorker, first-generation American, and this month’s Spectrio Voice of Choice, not only speaks English, umm, well, she is fluent in French, conversant in Russian, and grew up with a father who spoke eight languages fluently and a mother who spoke four. “I actually can’t imagine growing up in an atmosphere where only one language was spoken…I was able to express emotions and describe events in ways that could fit better by using one language rather than the other. In fact, growing up, my brothers and I were forbidden to mix languages.”
After graduating from Fordham University as a history major, de Nesnera followed in her mom’s footsteps and worked for the French Embassy Trade Office in New York, which despite allowing her to speak French and English, was not “creative enough” for her. So, as is the case with most voice talents, de Nesnera made her way into radio, at WNNJ in northern New Jersey. But unlike most, she was on the “other side of the glass” handling production, writing and commercial voicing rather than serving as a disk jockey. It was only after four more years at a corporate recording studio that she realized being in front of the mic was where she wanted to be. So, for the last decade, Liz de Nesnera has been a full-time voice talent, with the special talent of speaking both English and French equally well. In fact, 50% of her work is in the latter language, with a large percentage of her activity coming from neighboring Canada as well as situations where a French accent is needed. She has voiced for Spectrio since 2008, and described the experience as “a joy.”
While it goes without saying that the announcing market is competitive, de Nesnera sees it as a community, and her multicultural outlook on life and language extends to her approach to her profession; “Each culture is unique in the way it sees the world and that uniqueness is reflected in its language…And, to me, if you are given the gift, as I have been, of another language then I think that it’s a shame not to share it.” She mentors other burgeoning voice talents as well as other creatively-minded students as part of her volunteer work, and finds time to indulge her love of improvisational theatre, visual arts, and downhill skiing. “It’s a lot of work, but I can’t imagine doing anything else…It’s been quite a ride.” And one that has been magnifique!