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“We help people find their voice.” A very simple message and the primary goal of a consultancy set up by Chaz Oldham, an actor, who trained with Herbert Smith (as was) between 1993 and 1995, and his wife, Lucy Akhurst, also an actor (seen recently playing opposite Damian Lewis in A Spy Among Friends).

“Some people may feel they already have one, a good one, but a lot of people in the non-performing world who haven’t had voice training feel a bit lost when put in front of a mic or an audience for the first time,” Chaz says. “In this age where our appearance garners most of our attention, the voice sometimes gets left behind. However, how we sound is just as important as how we look.” 

With the huge growth in podcasts and the greater emphasis on people having to speak aloud, not least in the wake of remote working and the increased use of video conferencing, the timing for a voice consultancy couldn’t be better. 

Chaz himself knows all about voices. After training with HSF, he worked as an investment banker and set up his own orthopaedics business before pursuing his first love – acting. After leaving drama school, and going under the name of Tom, he was signed by a top agent and carved out a career as a voiceover artist of international renown, being listed in Campaign as one of their Dynamic Dozen Voices. Twenty years and 10,000 voiceovers later he has worked with all of the top advertising agencies and broadcasters around the world and has advised countless lawyers, FTSE 100 CEOs, actors and TV personalities on how best to deploy their vocal talents. 

The consultancy, called Blond Voices, offers voice coaching for those working in organisations (not just senior executives), actors and individuals. The requirement to speak publicly is almost a given these days. For those working in companies, it could be anything from leading a training session to presenting in a beauty parade. And then for individuals, there is the dreaded request to speak at your best friend’s wedding…

“We approach each client individually,” Chaz says. “Some may need help with where in the body the voice is being produced, some with exercises to calm nerves, some may simply need to learn how to breathe and alter their rhythm, while others to get out of the habit of using too many falling (or rising) inflections. We can help with all of these things and give them a voice they can be confident in.”

Chaz continues, “Between us, Lucy and I have over 50 years of experience in the acting and voiceover worlds so we like to think we know a thing or two about all things vocal and performance. I also know all about the corporate world and how you need to look and sound within it.”

Paean to Morris dancing

In fact, alumni may remember Chaz from an earlier feature we wrote about him in 2010. That was following Morris: A Life with Bells On, a feature comedy about Morris dancing, which he co-produced, wrote the screenplay for, and starred in, alongside Sir Derek Jacobi, Greg Wise, Dame Harriet Walter and Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (Miss Moneypenny in Bond), to name but a few of the stellar cast. Lucy directed the film, which was done in a mockumentary style. Chaz had come across Morris dancing through the family with whom he lodged as a teenager. Enthralled by this particularly English pastime, but also its quirkiness, he turned his interest into the film.

The film was an international cult hit and was shown in cinemas in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.  Still to this day, Chaz receives emails from people around the world who say how much they love it (it is available to watch on Amazon Prime).

Chaz and Lucy are happy to visit clients, but more usually operate from a specially built soundproof recording studio on their farm in southern Italy, where they moved following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (“we’re Europeans in spirit,” Chaz says). The masseria sits within 20-acres of pasture and olive groves, along with numerous other fruit and nut trees, figs being a particular favourite. So, for anyone wanting to learn to speak well in Italian, as well as English, they can handle that too!

* For any HSF alumni in need of help with any aspect of their voices, Chaz is happy to offer a free introductory chat and then a 20% discount on any subsequent bookings.  Please contact [email protected]


Key contacts

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Kym Somers

Alumni Manager, London

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Olivia Troop

Alumni Executive, London

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