Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela AudioFile Best of 2011 Biography & Memoir
Gifted actor and audiobook narrator Michael Boatman says his childhood love of reading and his desire to become a storyteller continue to influence his professional choices. "I've come to realize the reason I'm an actor is that I've always been a huge reader. I've always loved being drawn into stories as a reader." When he accepted his first assignment as an audiobook narrator, he knew he would be able to combine those two interests. "It just seemed to fit."
Boatman is most recognized for his television roles in the comedy "Spin City," acting alongside Michael J. Fox, and the drama "China Beach," in which he played Pvt. Samuel Beckett. Audiobook fans have heard Boatman on titles from authors Dennis Lehane, Walter Mosley, Richard North Patterson, and others. Boatman says he also enjoys working in film and on stage and believes he uses all of those acting muscles while recording audiobooks. "As an actor, you look at the book as a performance piece. I always feel my acting experience helps inform the material in the book and that I help create a 'theater of the mind.' I also think being a stage actor helps me imagine an audience out there."
Boatman says there are times the material he's called upon to record can be challenging. Such was the case with his latest title, LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. "For me, a challenge manifests itself as a greater intensity--on getting it right. When you're delivering the words of someone like Nelson Mandela, you want to get as much of his spirit, which everyone recognizes. I'm not an impersonator, but I did want to capture the flavor of how the man speaks--because everyone knows that voice and that accent."
Boatman is recognized for handling both comedy and drama, and he particularly enjoys finding nuggets of humor in dramatic works. "In the best books, I think the strongest writers always incorporate all elements into their works. Even in Mandela's memoir, there are lots of moments of humor. And in some of the darkest scenes he describes there are moments of the man's humor creeping in that I didn't have to add. I remember thinking: 'Isn't it great that this man going through this imprisonment is finding some humor in those moments.'"
Boatman says one of his earliest narration jobs was the classic THE CAY , and he realizes that this story, and his interpretation of it, is one people will be listening to for generations to come. "You want to pay due diligence. Again, I always envision the audience sitting out there and want to do my best work for them." --Randy O'Brien
Photo courtesy of the narrator
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