Samantha Dockser '12 - Finding Her Voice
Even if you didn’t attend Potomac at the same time she did, Samantha Dockser ‘12 might look familiar. Perhaps you saw her in the world-premiere musical Las Polacas: The Jewish Girls of Buenos Aires at DC’s GALA Hispanic Theatre. Maybe you caught her in Mindy Kaling’s HBO series Sex Lives of College Girls. Or perhaps you are one of the 250,000 followers who laugh along to Samantha’s TikTok videos. The past two years have been challenging for the entertainment industry, but Samantha has carved a niche for herself, living as a working actor and voiceover artist in Los Angeles.
We recently met with her over Zoom for a wide-ranging conversation about what she does, how she got there, and where she’s going next.
There’s no shortage of actors in LA. How did you get a foothold?
I earned a BFA in acting from the University of Miami’s conservatory program. The conservatory holds agent showcases for graduating seniors. The LA showcase was just two days after graduation – my entire family was in Miami to celebrate, and I was jumping aboard a flight to California! An agent here signed me…so I stayed on the West Coast.
Tell us about one of your early professional gigs.
I did a commercial for a book that paired with an app – an augmented reality product. It didn’t feel very significant to me. But soon after, my parents went to see La La Land back in Virginia. My commercial came on before the movie started and my folks sat bolt upright, “We know that voice; we know that face!” That’s when it struck me that I was doing projects that could be seen by people nationwide.
What are you working on currently?
I’m busy with voiceover work. During a time when so much entertainment is being created remotely, voiceover has become extremely competitive. Last fall I voiced a lead character for a young-adult novel that’s being serialized for a narrative podcast. Now I’m dubbing a foreign television series for a major streaming network. At this stage, I can’t say more: Details to come!
Dubbing sounds challenging; how does it work?
I don’t see the script in advance. I watch the scene in its original language while reading along in English. The writers rewrite as we go; they want the translation to match the actor’s lips as closely as possible, so that it looks like she’s speaking English.
With nearly 27,000 Instagram followers and 250,000-plus TikTok followers, your social media presence is impressive.
Several years into college, I realized acting was about the only thing I was doing with my time. I thought it would make sense to pursue some additional interests, so I began exploring ways I could combine my interests in writing, photography…and food!
Blogs and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are heavily connected; most online publications use social to drive traffic to their pages. So I began freelancing for various food publications and blogs. I would write the blog post/restaurant coverage, include photos that I had taken for the article, then share the photos to the publication’s Instagram page as well as my own, always encouraging viewers to visit the blog site. That’s when my social media presence really started to bloom.
Now I have years of experience with writing content and cultivating a community across social media channels. My style is informative, relatable, and organic. For food, book, fashion, coffee, and lifestyle content, readers can follow me on Instagram: @SamanthaDockser.
But your restaurant reviews and lifestyle events must have dried up during the pandemic?
Yes, and on top of that, the entertainment industry pretty much shut down. I looked at my social media and wondered where my content would come from. Then I started to explore TikTok. Here was something I could do to keep my spirits up! I tried to learn a new TikTok dance daily. The videos were silly – I’m not a dancer – but they were upbeat, and people liked them.
You also lip sync the routines of popular comedians.
Yes, those pieces are incredibly popular, and when my Gen Z cousin endorsed my first lip sync, I knew I was onto something: I have 250,000 followers who want to watch me lip sync! I’m also starting to dabble with my own comedy pieces.
It’s great to be popular on these platforms, but is there a tangible benefit?
I would love to be so busy acting that I wouldn’t have time to focus on social, but it’s a great way to augment my income. I have a social media team – agents who negotiate my endorsements and collaborations on Instagram and TikTok. Another plus is that my TikTok pieces have led to actual acting jobs. My followers are a viable base of support, a built-in audience that will rally around me and my acting work.
Did your time at Potomac prepare you for a career as an actor?
Oh, yes! At the time, Mr. Bergman ran the theater department. He gave me so many opportunities to perform. I acted in a wide array of shows that might not be traditional for a high school program, far more than my conservatory classmates had done.
I also credit Potomac’s English department. It was such a challenging program – nearly impossible to get an A – but it prepared me to be a strong writer and an efficient, discerning reader. I can tackle a script and break it down quickly and effectively, which is a huge asset in my career. I learned that at Potomac.
What opportunities would you most like to pursue going forward?
I'm excited to continue telling stories and creating content, both through my social media presence and as an actor on screen. I want to produce work that brings people joy…something for them to look forward to during these difficult times.
Any advice for someone interested in a career in acting?
Aspiring actors constantly hear, “If there is anything else you might want to do with your life, do that instead.” Don’t listen. If you’re passionate about acting, if it brings you joy, pursue it. And if there is something else you like doing, pursue that, too, because actors should be well-rounded people. It takes talent and luck to break into this field, but it happens. When an opportunity comes your way, be prepared to grab it!