When Leonard Dozier is ready to get to work, he needs complete silence in his home. The air conditioner is turned off, windows are closed, and all TVs are muted.
Any sounds can be a distraction. Worse, they can ruin a take at the home studio in his bedroom.
Next to his bed, memory-foam walls surround a tiny space with a $1,000 microphone and a sheet of lines for Dozier to read.
Dozier, 37, a South Jersey native and professional voiceover actor, has voiced characters in major motion pictures. He has narrated audiobooks, and he has recorded countless commercials.
His most recent project is as the newest voice featured in NFL Films.
Despite his success, being a voice actor wasn’t always the dream.
Dozier, of Egg Harbor City, grew up in Somers Point and attended Pleasantville High School, where he played power forward for the basketball team. Basketball dominated his early high school life. But he then turned to theater, and that became his love.
Dozier also did the morning announcements all during the high school.
While many people told him he should pursue radio and voice work, Dozier wasn’t too interested in making it a career. It didn’t seem like real performing.
“I didn’t equate what I was doing in high school to voiceover work, and there was a second thought that voiceover work was not on the level of being an actor,” he said. “So I went to Fordham to study theater, since my first love was being onstage.”
Along with wanting to become an actor, Dozier also pursued an R&B singing career after college and recorded a few songs.
One day, Dozier was offered an opportunity: He could have free studio time to record his music if he lent his voice to a commercial.
That was when Dozier realized there might be a career for him in voiceover acting. He started landing spots in commercials and narrating for audio books.
He believes he made the right decision.
“Ironically, the music industry has been rough since the early 2000s, and the voice acting world is now looked at in a different light,” Dozier said.
He continued to work in narration, something that made use of his background in acting. Dozier has landed roles in narration and acting. His best-known work was in the CGI animated movie “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” in which he provided voices alongside actors Dan Akroyd, Lea Michele and Kelsey Grammer.
Although it didn’t do well in the box office, Dozier credits the Oz movie with helping him promoting his workshops. He does seminars across the country, helping students who want to pursue a career in voiceover acting. Recently he held workshops in San Francisco and Seattle, and he is now teaching weekly classes at Little Rock Films and Studios in Ventnor.
Most of the students he meets ask questions about how they can break into the entertainment industry.
His response? Understand acting and train constantly.
For Dozier, a lifetime of training has led him to his dream job: voiceover work for NFL Films.
Dozier approached the company’s audio department to try to get his foot in the door. He finally found a senior producer’s contact information and sent him a demo. He then performed a live audition for a group of producers, and a couple of days later he was told he had the job.
Most of his work will be for the NFL network’s “NFL Films Presents” episodes and possibly some segments for the popular series “A Football Life.”
While taking a tour with producers of the company’s property in Mount Laurel — which he describes as a mix between Universal Studios and the National Football Hall of Fame — he couldn’t believe he had landed a job.
Standing in his makeshift audio booth in his Egg Harbor City home, reciting lines about the Seattle Seahawks into his microphone while wearing a Denver Broncos hat — he’s a Denver fan — he was all smiles and laughs in between takes.
“As a young man from Pleasantville, I never thought any of this would’ve happened in my career. I’ve exceeded my wildest expectations,” he said. “So anything that comes is a bonus.”