Voice Range: E2-B5
Accents: Standard American, British (R.P.), London, Scottish, Irish (Dublin), Irish (Donegal), Various Southern American Regional Accents, Russian, German
Genres: Horror, Comedy, Erotica, Drama
Fluent Languages: English
Tee Quillin, is a classically trained professional actor & Assistant Professor of Theatre & Cinema. He holds his Bachelors of Arts in Theatre from the University of Alabama and his Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from the Meadows School for the Arts at Southern Methodist University.
Tee started out by working his way through his undergraduate program as on-air talent for several professional and public radio stations. During his time at the University of Alabama, he co-founded Guerilla Theatre, an evening of scenes, monologues, and one-act plays. Conceived as an arena for students to fully explore their potential and experiment with various theatrical form, it was and still is managed completely by students, including conception, production, direction, house management, and publicity. Guerilla Theatre is still an active part of campus life at the University of Alabama today.
While at Southern Methodist University, Tee organized professional auditions and showcases that were held in New York City and Los Angeles. It was during his time at SMU that his passion for Shakespeare ignited.
His professional on-stage credits include performances with the Dallas Theater Center, Kitchen Dog Theatre, WaterTower Theatre, as well as the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Tee has also stared in various national television commercials, (7-Eleven, Krystal, Tn. Lottery, & CMT to name a few) and voice-over spots including audiobooks for Audible.com. Tee has had the pleasure of working with Barbara Somerville, Ben Furey, Cecil O’Neal, Michael Connolly, and Patsy Rodenburg. While working with the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Tee taught acting workshops and during his tenure with the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, he served as Director of Education working in partnership with television star, Lane Davies.
Tee has been an active member of the Southeastern Theatre Conference by participating on various discussion panels and conducting workshops. He has also participated as a production respondent for Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF). Tee was actively involved with the Tennessee Governors School for the Arts as Auditions Coordinator, Adjudicator and Interviewer.
Tee was co-founder and co-host of the weekly theatre podcast, The Inexplicable Dumb Show. He has also been an invited guest of The Humana Festival of New American Plays (2008-2010) at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, KY where he has been a part of interviewing playwrights and professional actors for this weekly podcast. Tee also begun a partnership with Shakespeare Monologues, where he created and hosts scansion-ready, printable PDF files of all of the major monologues from the Shakespearean canon.
Recently, Tee was invited to present a paper at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (MLA) Conference. He presented his paper, “Some Things Never Change: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and American Politics in the 21st Century.” Tee is a member of the Actors Equity Association and has been recognized by the Society of American Fight Directors as an Actor Combatant on multiple occasions.
Tee was instrumental in the foundation and organizational structure of Western Playhouse on the campus of Missouri Western State University, serving as the Artistic Director of the company for the first two years of it’s existence. Western Playhouse was conceived as an Actor’s Equity Association affiliated professional summerstock theatre company housed on campus that would produce quality theatre productions, thereby providing the opportunity for theatre students throughout the region to work alongside professional actors and other industry professionals.
Among the productions Tee has starred in, he counts Hamlet in Hamlet, Decius Brutus in Julius Caesar, Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard, George Tessman in Hedda Gabler, Peter in Company, as well as Billy Crocker in Anything Goes among his most memorable. His favorite productions directed include, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, Urinetown, Miss Saigon, Arsenic & Old Lace, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Phantom.
Tee has been playing the banjo and other instruments since he was 6 years old. He is also an avid hiker and geocacher. In his spare time, Tee is also an amateur radio operator and storm spotter.
How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?
My first book was a number of years ago booked through my commercial acting agent in Nashville, TN. Then I relocated to the Kansas City area and that connection was lost. I still wanted to narrate, but wasn’t sure how to make it happen. Skip ahead 6 years. I took a theatrical directing gig in Palm Springs, CA one summer. One of our actors told me about ACX.com and the great work that he was doing. As soon as I got home to my recording equipment, I got to work submitting auditions. The rest is (hopefully ongoing) history.
What do you do when you are not narrating?:
I’m a tenured professor teaching theatrical acting and directing at the collegiate level. I’m also a professional actor and director.
Many audiobook narrators do other voice over work, where else could we hear your work? Do you find there to any big hurdles to jump when going from audiobooks to something else or vise versa?:
I do voiceovers for commercials (mostly regional spots) as well as on-camera and onstage acting work.
Do you have the luxury of picking and choosing the projects that you work on or do you take as many as you have time for?:
At this point, I’m taking as many as I have time for. I also do my own editing and mastering and being a one-man shop makes it a challenge to work into my teaching load.
For those of us that are unfamiliar with your work. How would you describe your narration style and voice? What would the one audiobook you would suggest for people to listen to your best work?:
“Brightside” is definitely the best audiobook to listen to to get a feel for my style. “Each Dawn I Die” provides quite a bit more variety of character.
Other than the one non-fiction book, I’ve been fortunate to work with the same author, Mark Tullius, on multiple books. His books are very dark and psychologically menacing which I absolutely love.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m a fan of a good comedic piece, too!
As a narrator, do you get compensated in a set amount or do you also receive royalties from the individual sales? Do you like one more than the other? Has there ever been an per finished hour book that you wish was a royalty deal, what book? Or vise versa?:
So far, I’ve been compensated in set amounts. I’m in discussions with another author regarding a book for a royalty share deal. I’ll let you know which I like best after I’ve experienced both. In short, though, getting paid to do what you love is awesome.
What do you see as your greatest achievement as an audiobook narrator? What has been your most difficult moment?:
At this point, just seeing my name on the Audible website seems like a tremendous accomplishment. I have been an Audible listener almost since their beginnings (since before my first iPod!). I love the service and it just keeps getting better and better. To see my name up there listed as a narrator along with so many of the names that I admire and respect is an incredible honor.
If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?:
If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?:
Dead men tell no tales.
Care to share an awkward fanboy/fangirl moment, either one where someone was gushing over your narration/acting…..or one where you were gushing over another narrator/actor’s work?:
I haven’t had an “awkward” fanperson moment yet. I’ll keep you posted.
What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?:
The argument of the correct pronunciation of the word “pinch” with my wife. We are both from the South, but for some reason, I never had a “Southern” accent. I *can* have a Southern accent, but my day-to-day speech is similar to what you hear in my narration. My wife is definitely from Georgia (I’m from Alabama.)
She pronounces the word as “peench”, by the way. It’s incredibly endearing and I love to give her hell about it.
If you were to create a narrating playlist, what artists and songs would be on it?
Bela Fleck (both with and without the Flecktones)
The Avett Brothers
Allison Kraus & Union Station
You are hosting a dinner party and must invite 3 famous people (real or fictional). Who would you choose and why?
Just 3? Damn…
William Shakespeare: for the conversation
Katy Perry: as my date (sorry, honey)
Laurence Olivier: just because
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another narrator?
I have not yet received any advice from another narrator. I wasn’t aware that we were allowed to interact. You mean that there are times when narrators are allowed to come out of their recording holes and interact with one another? In person?
I never get invited to anything…
What is the first book you remember reading on your own? What do you remember most about the experience?:
Stephen King’s “The Stand”. I remember being floored at how vivid the images of the world were to me. It was crystal clear what each character and location looked like as it happened. Years later, I downloaded the audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner and found that his narration of the book spawned the same mental images that I had experienced all those years ago.
You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?:
Katy Perry. And hell yes, there will be tasty libations involved.
Do you ever get specific notes or ideas from the writer about how something should be read? What is a helpful note, and what is, shall we say, less helpful?:
I seek out and welcome notes from the authors. I can honestly say that, no matter how vague, any piece of direction is helpful. It’s at least a step in the right direction. My job is to tell the author’s story as faithfully as I can. Sure, there’s some of my interpretation in it as well, but ultimately, it’s a collaboration between author and narrator to make sure the story is told clearly to the listener.
Do you have an initial process or routine by which you get to know the book you’re going to be reading? Do you mark them up, for example?:
I try to mark all dialogue by each character in a specific color. This is especially helpful with keeping track of novels with lots of principal characters. I have not established a method of maintaining a character’s voice over multiple recording sessions yet. Any thoughts?
How do you flesh out how a specific character will sound?:
For the principal characters, good authors will make it easy for a narrator. All of the details you need to flesh out the character are there. Where their from, what their goals are, their temperment, backstory, etc. For the secondary and tertiary characters, there’s usually a little more freedom because those characters may not be as fleshed-out as the principals. It just means that I have to create all that stuff for these characters to give them voice.
Is your studio in your home? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this? Do you have something that you would consider unique in your setup? What is it?:
My studio is in my home. The advantage to this is that it becomes very easy to set my recording schedule to coincide with our increasingly insane family and work schedules. The disadvantage is that there will never be adequate sound isolation without shelling out some serious dough to build a true home studio. Until then, I continue to experiment with gear and audio editing techniques to isolate and remove the noise in post-production.
What is the atmosphere like in your studio when you record. What’s it like, and are things very serious or not very serious?:
Regardless of the book, the atmosphere is the same. When I narrate a book, it’s as though I step into the story. In that regard, it really doesn’t matter what the atmosphere is like in the room; mentally, I’m not there anymore. When the headphones go on, I can fully enter the world of the story.
How long do you record at a time, on average? What is it about a book that will shorten or lengthen this?:
My longest “marathon” recording session is 6-7 hours. Normally, though, I record in fairly long stretches. Whatever my schedule and my voice can handle. If I feel my voice getting fatigued, I’ll stop. If I know I have to leave for an appointment, I’ll stop. I usually won’t start recording unless I know I can at least begin and end a chapter in one sitting.
What is your favorite genre to narrate? Why?:
I’ve really enjoyed working on Mark Tullius’ books. We are in talks for me to do more of them and I can’t be happier. I love his style and tone.
That having been said, I would love to try my hand in as many different genres as I can.
What has been your favorite character? What character has given you the most grief?:
Joe from “Brightside” was definitely the most fun. Since the novel was written in first person, it was a treat for me as an actor. It felt like a huge 8-hour-long monologue or solo-performance piece. I was able to really dive deep inside that character.
How do you stop yourself from laughing or crying at some of the things authors write?:
Quite literally, I don’t. I see it as my job to be just as moved by a text as any reader would. Why should I stifle my emotional responses and deny those to the listener? If my responses are such that they inhibit the flow of the text, then I’ll go back and re-record that section. The joy of reading it will still be present, albeit only slightly contained.
If a character is described by the author as “in tears” or “crying”, isn’t it my job to give that line a dramatic reading and try to portray the intent behind the line just as any actor would on stage or on film?
I have heard that many in the industry dislike the term narrator. What do you prefer and why?:
I personally don’t mind narrator. If we really get down to it, though, it doesn’t *really* describe what we do. “Performer” is probably a better term. “Performed by…” would be the phrase I would like to hear used in the introductions of books. Especially for fiction pieces.
How do you view audiobook narration/production: Art or Science?:
Art is Science and Science is Art.
Just as a photographer uses a highly complicated piece of machinery to capture images (indeed, on film, there is some fairly complicated chemistry involved with the development of the film), we use some fairly complicated pieces of electronic equipment to capture and edit sound waves digitally for distribution via a computer network. However, those sound waves are the essence of an artform.
Do you have a philosophy of how to create the perfect audiobook experience?:
Not yet. I’ll make sure to write a book about it and sell it for billions of dollars when I do.
Do you have a preference for reading fiction or nonfiction for pleasure? And is what you read for pleasure what you’d prefer to read for audiobooks?:
I read fiction for pleasure. I listen to both fiction and non-fiction audiobooks. I find non-fiction easier to digest in audiobook form. For some reason, I can also narrate non-fiction, even though I don’t necessarily enjoy reading it for pleasure.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring narrators?:
Read anything you can get your hands on, even it’s the back of your breakfast cereal. And record yourself doing it, even if it’s just on your iPhone.
Learn to listen to recorded voice. It sounds different than the voice you hear in your head when you speak. Be critical of it, but not self-conscious. Learn from your mistakes and keep reading.
What has been your favorite project and why?:
“Brightside” for all of the reasons I mentioned above.
Do you believe that listening to an audiobook should be considered reading? Why or why not?:
Listening to an audiobook is and isn’t reading. You can’t literally say that you are “reading” the book because you’re not. Your eyes are not scanning the page and processing the letters/words into thoughts/sentences/ideas in your brain. In the purely technical sense, it’s not reading. And yet…
It *is* reading. After all, you know every nuance of the story. You experience every roller-coaster ride that the characters experience. You feel every emotion, you take their journey. Isn’t that what the experience of reading is?
Are you working on any special projects?:
Right now, I’m in pre-production for a theatrical performance coming up in Kansas City in August of 2016. Details are on my website for anyone who’s interested. I’d love to see you there!
Have you ever gotten a poor review on your narration? What do you do with such reviews?:
If you live by the reviews, you die by the reviews.
Seriously, reviews are great (yes, even the bad ones), but you have to learn not to take them seriously. A review is a lot different than a critique. As an actor, I am constantly seeking out the thoughts and opinions of people who’s opinions I respect within the profession. Their comments will be tempered with kindness and friendship from the point of view of someone providing an outside, educated opinion of your work. Reviews *can* be that, too, but most often, they are the genuine thoughts of anonymous people who, for some reason, don’t take into consideration that you are a human being with feelings, too. They can be hurtful.
In my experience, it’s best to either a) ignore the reviews altogether or, b) read the reviews, but take them with a grain of salt and use the good ones to help boost your publicity.
How do you feel about authors that choose to narrate their own audiobooks? Any advice to them?:
I have no problem with authors who narrate their own work. That having been said, I have only experienced three instances in which truly benefitted from the authors narrating their own work. In my opinion, David McCullough should always narrate his own books. His voice lends an air of gravitas to his subject matter and he has a way of bringing everything to life in his own words that only he seems to be able to truly capture.
The other two examples are specific books by specific authors: “On Writing” by Stephen King, and “There And Back Again: An Actor’s Tale” by Sean Astin. Both of these are the perfect examples of the kinds of personal exploration and revelation that can only truly be expressed by the authors themselves. Hearing King describe the accident that nearly killed him is heart-wrenching, but so is hearing him discuss his battle with addiction. He’s brutally honest and manages to truly capture what writing means to him and how, in his opinion, it works.
This is for the question you wish I would have asked but didn’t.:
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