When people approach me about being a voice actor, most of the comments I receive are: “Wow, that’s cool.” or “What an exciting job!”
It is a unique kind of work but it’s not quite as glamorous as you might think.
Voiceover is a business and there are many components. There are fun parts to this job like acting and recording, and then there are the very frustrating, mundane, and challenging parts to this job. I suppose it depends on what type of person you are that determines what you consider fun or a hassle. In this article I’m just going to talk about the fun part: acting.
What is Your Sweet Spot?
Let’s talk about the fun part of voice acting which I think is the reason most of us get into this business in the first place.
Voice actor types are usually expressive people who are animated and like the challenge of using their voice to get a message across for a particular reason. Of course there are other types of voice actors who have a more serious personality and have a knack for doing narration, e-learning, medical narration, or audio books.
These days there are so many different genres of voice acting. There’s something for everyone. Sometimes I think voice actors feel like we’re supposed to be able to do it all. I was guilty of that. I thought when a script arrived on my doorstep I was supposed audition for it whether it fit my personality or not.
I came to realize that there are just some scripts I shouldn’t bother with. It can be a thrill for me to be the voice in a TV commercial telling you about a hospital, the Disney Park, or even a mattress commercial, but
I know I am not the voice who will sell you a Ford Truck or some fancy new piece of electronic equipment that I know nothing about. It’s just not my niche and I’m not even going to try and pull it off, because I’m better off staying focused on what I do best. I especially like reading for warm, honest, helpful spots like Public Service Announcements that may make a difference in the world.
For instance, I like reading scripts for the Humane Society or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, scripts that may have an impact on people’s behavior.
I’ve done many spots for hospitals and health care providers. My tag line on my website is: “When you need a voice that cares as much as you do.” I really do prefer to stay in the niche of a caring real person.
It’s more natural for me to be a caring real person narrating a web video about foot massagers rather than trying to act like a perky mom, which I’m not, who sells gummy vitamins to other perky moms.
I can do it because I’m an actor. But I still like the reads that open my heart.
Oddly enough, I also enjoy doing medical and web video narration. Since I have a kooky, fun-loving personality, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed reading more serious scripts.
I always thought that the majority of my work would be voicing for zany commercials, but like I said, the essence of who you are outshines your personality.
Finding Your Essence
I learned the essence concept both in acting class and in an art class that I took years ago. I assumed that because I was naturally outgoing, loved to have fun and do crazy things, that I would enjoy throwing paint on a canvas like a maniac.
In reality, when I stood in front of the blank canvas I froze, and there was no way I was going to start splattering paint on that white board. I freaked out and almost had an anxiety attack!
My teacher was very observant and let me off the hook with that project. She then had me sketch a pen and ink drawing of a small flower in a vase. I loved it.
I loved the small details in the flower and leaves. My teacher recognized that I needed to balance out my big, outgoing personality with the finer details of pen and ink.
Bold and Sweet
Below the surface of my fun-loving personality is this very caring person. I have a big heart. So I can naturally convey that heart message to others easily.
As a stage actor and professional singer, I am extremely expressive and have a large presence. I prefer to belt out a rock or soul tune and gyrate across the stage rather than stand still in one spot singing a sweet love ballad.
So I guess I’m a mixed bag of bold and sweet. The point that I’m trying to make is: look inside yourself and find out who you really are – that’s your sweet spot.
Auditioning – What a Pain!
If you have an agent, or agents, you will be auditioning a lot. After audition number 50 and you still haven’t landed a job, it can be demoralizing.
This happens, so get ready for it. You can’t be a wimp when it comes to rejection.
Let rejection be your middle name. After a while you’ll get over it. Or you’ll cry or throw a fit! I think the hardest part is not knowing why you didn’t get the job.
In fact, most times you don’t get feedback from anyone. How many other people were auditioning along with you?
Who did they choose and why? Did they like me a little? Was my voice too low or high? Did they even listen to my audition?
Maybe my audition was the 35th in line and they decided they liked number 12 and tossed the rest of the auditions aside. We don’t get feedback – just rejection.
Honestly, I just keep turning in those auditions and do the best I can. I read the scripts, study the specs, try not to overthink the process, and let’er rip.
The main goal is to be believable. You must decide on a point of view and give it your best shot.
I used to stress when it came to auditioning. I’d dissect the script and my performance to the point of over-analyzing it to death.
That’s not a good thing to do.
When you’re in your head, not in the moment, the audition will inevitably suffer. I still overthink my auditions now and then. And I get mad at myself for doing so.
My advice: Bring the read to life, do it quickly and move on. I think of auditions as practice.
Even if I don’t get the job, my agent must have thought I was qualified to audition for the spot. For that I’m grateful. Once in a while it’s a good thing to study with a coach who has a keen ear to point out any bad habits that I may have acquired.
That’s on my list of things to do. A little check up never hurts.