In A World Where One Teen's Voice Is An Internet Hit

May 26, 2012
Originally published on May 26, 2012 7:17 pm

Jake Foushee had a cold.

He was 13 at the time, at his home outside Chapel Hill, N.C.

"I woke up the next day and my voice went from way up here" — he pitches his voice high — "to how it is right now," he tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. Jake's voice had sunk into a bass that somehow seemed familiar.

By 14, he realized he had a knack for impersonating the voice-over artist Don LaFontaine, known for beginning movie trailers with the phrase, "In a world ..." He hoped to make the same career for himself someday.

"I'd have my friends during the day just give me ideas for different types of movie trailers," he says. "And I'd go home and come up with scripts for them."

Jake recorded himself voicing a trailer he wrote for the movie Apocalypse, and it went viral. Soon, Good Morning America was knocking on his door. Ellen DeGeneres wasn't far behind, and that's where she gave Jake a big surprise.

"We called the Abrams Artists Agency in New York City — one of the most highly regarded voice-over, talent and literary agencies in the industry, and they would like to officially sign you," Degeneres told him in front of her audience.

"I was really excited about that," Jake says, "and insanely surprised. I couldn't even believe it."

Back home in North Carolina, his overnight success led to some extra attention at school.

"They're all excited because it's pretty cool that they know someone who came from such a small town and went this big in so little time," Jake says. He's enjoyed the support of his girlfriend, who he's had "since before all this started. She's really happy for me, and she's with me through it all."

As for voice-over work, Jake hasn't signed a deal yet, but says he could be voicing a movie trailer as early as the next few months.

"My mom and my dad are having conferences and getting everything worked out, so hopefully we'll get a lot of the big stuff going this summer," he says.

First he has to make it to summer vacation. School's out in about a week.

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Now, it's not quite as dramatic as "Battleship," but here's another movie story that could easily be distilled into a short movie trailer, the life of 15-year-old Jake Foushee. And this is what it would sound like if it were a trailer.


JAKE FOUSHEE: In a world where a voice can separate the boys from the men, one - I was about to say 14 again.

RAZ: Jake was actually 14 when his story began. But now?

FOUSHEE: You want me to start over?

RAZ: He's 15. Sure.


FOUSHEE: One 15-year-old is walking the line and charting his own destiny. In theaters everywhere, Friday.

RAZ: A little explanation here. When Jake was 13 and his voice changed, he realized his was just a little deeper than his friends'.

FOUSHEE: Hello. My name is Jake. I am 14 years old.

RAZ: So he decided he might want to use his voice for a career someday. So a few months ago, he posted a video on YouTube, just Jake in front of his computer with a microphone.


FOUSHEE: I'm trying to become a voice actor, and this is my movie trailer guy impression. In a world where the Earth was no longer in our control, with our survival at stake, we have one chance, and that chance is to fight back.

RAZ: So naturally, the video goes viral. He's 14.

FOUSHEE: In theaters everywhere, Friday.

RAZ: And the next thing Jake knows.

FOUSHEE: I remember that first day I got an email from "Good Morning America."


JOSH ELLIOTT: Fourteen-year-old Jake Foushee from North Carolina has become an Internet sensation with that...

FOUSHEE: And I was insanely surprised by it, and I did not believe it. And I told my dad about it, and they didn't believe it either.


ELLIOTT: What do you want to do?

FOUSHEE: I'd like to be a voice actor when I'm older, like, for movie previews or just movie trailers and stuff.

ELLIOTT: All right.

RAZ: He told us "Good Morning America" was fun.


FOUSHEE: Welcome back to "Good Morning America" with Robin Roberts and George Stephanalapalou(ph)...


RAZ: But his next stop was "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."


ELLEN DEGENERES: Well, Jake, that's quite a voice you have. I'm excited that you're here.

FOUSHEE: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

DEGENERES: All right. So when did your voice start to get this deep?

RAZ: And then she sprung a surprise on you.

FOUSHEE: Yes, she did.


FOUSHEE: Yes, ma'am.

DEGENERES: So we called the Abrams Artist Agency in New York City. It's one of the most highly regarded voiceover talent and literary agencies in the industry, and they would like to officially sign you. You have an agent.

FOUSHEE: And I was really excited about that and insanely surprised. And I just - I couldn't even believe it.

RAZ: Have you had any - have you signed a deal yet?

FOUSHEE: We haven't gotten into - we haven't gotten into everything yet. But we are working with them now. My mom and my dad are all having conferences with them and getting everything worked out. So hopefully, we'll get a lot of the big stuff going this summer.

RAZ: Who else do you do?

FOUSHEE: I can do Optimus Prime from "Transformers."

RAZ: How does he sound?

FOUSHEE: Before time began...


NEIL KAPLAN: (as Optimus Prime) Before time began...

FOUSHEE: ...there was...


KAPLAN: (as Optimus Prime) ...there was...

FOUSHEE: ...the cube.


KAPLAN: (as Optimus Prime) ...the cube. We know not where it comes from...

RAZ: Wow. That's crazy.

FOUSHEE: Thank you.

RAZ: What about at school? Like, are you, like, the most popular kid now?

FOUSHEE: Well, a lot of people have come up to me and congratulated me, and so a lot of people are trying to be my friend now. And it's fun, but also, I'm just trying to remember who my real friends are and keep everything in check.

RAZ: What about dates? Any luck there?

FOUSHEE: Well, I have a girlfriend, actually, since before all this started and still with her now. She's really happy for me, and she's with me through it all.


RAZ: That's Jake Foushee. His original viral video is at our website, Coming up, music from a new band that describes its sound as orchestral folk. That's in the next part - excuse me - that's in the next part - forget it. Jake, can you finish this one?

FOUSHEE: That's in the next part of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.