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Award-winning audiobook narrator Adenrele Ojo is a woman of many talents. Besides working behind the mic, she is also a stage and screen actor, a voice-over actor, and a producer. She has more than 200 audiobooks on her résumé, ranging from light children’s books to serious treatises about contemporary sociopolitical issues.
Adenrele is known for letting the personalities of fictional characters shine. Her soft voice and varied pacing keep us engaged as the story builds. She is equally skilled in connecting us to nonfiction, taking care to respect the authors’ thoughts and theories so we can learn and form our own opinions.
AudioFile: Tell us something surprising about yourself.
Adenrele Ojo: I learned to swim to do an Olympic-distance triathlon (swim 0.93 miles, bike 24.85 miles, and run 6.2 miles) with Team in Training, which raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the fight against cancer. Though I wasn’t in the last wave to go into the water, I was the last swimmer to come out. It took me almost two hours to complete the swim leg of the race. There were my coaches yelling and screaming and rooting me on. I did it! With the support of family and friends, I raised about $5,000 for TNT in honor of my dad who died of lung cancer in 1992.
AF: What are some of the particular challenges of narrating nonfiction?
AO: The narration in a book is a character in and of itself. No listener wants to hear a boring audiobook, whether fiction or nonfiction. Though there are no characters in nonfiction, you still want to keep the listener engaged. Sometimes you can get lost in a rhythm or a “zone,” where you are just delivering information instead of having an intimate conversation with the listener. It’s important to remember, there is still a story in nonfiction to be shared.
AF: What are pros and cons of working on a multi-narrator audiobook?
AO: Within a multi-narrated audiobook, you can get a full soundtrack. It offers the beautiful melody of hearing many voices telling the story. For the listener, it can be nice to hear different voice perspectives instead of everything being told by just one.
A con in multi-narrator fiction audiobooks specifically is sometimes the struggle to sync with your fellow narrator(s) on character voices. Though we never want to mimic one another, we do want to be in the same ballpark. However, we are all working at different times and on different schedules, so trying to connect with one another on this can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. It’s important that the listener has a smooth listening experience.
AF: What’s your go-to beverage when recording? How about after recording?
AO: Hot, hot water. No tea or flavors, just hot water. It really tastes sooooo good. Your throat will thank you for it.
AF: What’s the first task you tackle when given a new audiobook project?
AO: Read the book!
AF: What do you never have with you in the recording booth?
AO: My phone! I keep it that bad boy outside my booth or I would be lost watching Tik Toks between every chapter break. Next thing I know, 45 minutes will have gone by. LOL!
-- Many thanks, Adenrele, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I’m so impressed with your triathlon swim! You’re an inspiration. And I had to laugh at “Read the book!” Yes, that would be an important first step.
CANDACE LEVY | MARCH 24, 2021
Photo: David Wendell Boykins
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