Thomas Hagena and his wife made the move to California to pursue his aspirations of being a voice-over actor three years ago.
Hagena grew up in Lennox and graduated from Lennox High School in 2006. He graduated from South Dakota State University and worked as an admissions counselor until 2016.
He and his wife, who is from Bristol and works in healthcare, decided they wanted to live somewhere outside the Midwest before starting a family. The choices came down to Los Angeles or New York. Los Angeles won.
“We decided before we were to get married that we wanted to try a new location for a while before starting a family. We had both talked about wanting to live in a big city,” Hagena said. “It was either New York or Los Angeles and my wife said not New York, let’s not go where it’s going to be cold.”
Before making the move, Hagena had started doing voice-over work for small commercial work. He noted that voice-over acting can be done anywhere, except for things like character work for animation or video games, which needs to be done in a bigger city.
“Ninety-nine percent of the work I’ve done has been from my home studio,” he said.
With his only background in acting being from high school, his work as an admissions counselor allowed him to talk to hundreds and hundreds of people each year. Public speaking became part of the job, so he started looking to voice-over for some extra income.
“I wanted to do something in entertainment, but I didn’t want to do any on-camera stuff. Voice-over was appealing because I could do that from anywhere. I could build this career in Los Angeles and eventually when we move back to the Midwest, I won’t have to lose that momentum I’ve built while being out here,” he said.