How To Become a Valuable Voice Over What Every Talent Needs to Know

How to Become a Valuable Voice Over:
What Every Talent Needs To Know

By Kate McClanaghan


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 The Secret to Being a Valuable Talent

You may have found in your search to learn more about the voice over industry that an awful lot of people hold their cards rather tight to their chest—as if they might reveal “too much” if they tell you anything useful.

At SOUND ADVICE, we believe knowledge is power.  It’s our on-going mission to offer you the most-current, most-honest, most-useful information available.  The primary reason we wrote, How to Become a Valuable Voice Over: What Every Talent Needs To Know is to offer you the greatest opportunity to succeed.

The fact is you can’t rely solely on auditions to secure work, and the only real difference between your audition and your performance on a booking is the number of takes. 

Certainly making yourself valuable requires a variety components, not the least of which is knowing and conducting your small business as a working talent well. We will attempt to outline what’s required of you before, during, and after landing a job within these pages in order for you to continue to land work.

Who Are You?

Acting is a card game:  The objective is to lead with trump; lead with POWER. In other words, establish yourself with what it is you do best. 

Sounds easy. However, you may be too close to it to determine for yourself how you’re perceived. This speaks to type. It’s not uncommon, even if you’ve been pursuing a career in this business for a number of years, you may only stumble upon the work you’re best suited to land as a type.

If your type changes or falls out of favor with the trends, a complete reevaluation of who you are and how you’re perceived needs to be done if you hope to continue in this business.

Nothing stays the same, and type is no exception. If you had been relatively successful at one time and now you’re not, something changed. It may be your marketing or the fact that you stopped making yourself available to the work. You may have changed agents. Then again, it may be your type has changed or the market has changed and those who once had a call for your type now require something else. There are a handful of factors that could be at play here, and determining how you’re perceived right now is a very good place to start. You may find you typically do best with what interests or entertains you most.

We meet talent every day at Sound Advice who we’d consider extremely marketable for commercial work, yet far too often the talent don’t consider themselves commercially viable.  This may occur for a variety of reasons. It may be due to the fact that, in the case of many stage actors, we are generally taught to repel ANYTHING commercial, as this would be considered “selling out.” Unfortunately this mindset has managed to impede more talent from establishing themselves professionally and making a stable living in this business.  It’s quite the stigma to overcome, especially if it’s been drilled into you for four years or more in theater school.

Yet, it’s a little-known fact that many well-known, respected film directors have managed to keep themselves gainfully employed between film projects for decades now directing commercials.  Apparently, this fact has eluded all those “well-meaning” acting coaches who are often responsible for perpetuating this notion of selling out.  It’s a trap and not designed with your best interest.

Determining Your Type 

If you’re just starting out or starting over, you may feel some pressure to fully define your type, establish your brand, your identity. You may have the idea that you can’t just go out there not knowing who you are. Well, my friend, talent do just that, to a greater or lesser degree, every single day. They have as far back as anyone can remember. It’s perfectly fine to have a general idea of where you’ll book and how you’re perceived—at least for the time being. 

Typing a talent is often rather subjective. On one hand, typing allows a talent agent, casting director, producer, or director to get a handle on who you are in the broadest terms. On the other hand, it ultimately defines you as a very specific individual and sets you apart from the masses.

Thus, the confusion surrounding “type”: It’s very easy to become lost in this paradox.

Let’s back up a minute. Let’s start with the question, “How are you perceived?”

To break it down, you must have some idea of the sort of roles you would do best.  You would never have pursued acting in any capacity if you didn’t have at least some idea of what it is you bring to the table. Understanding this offers you the some of the most key trade secrets to becoming a valuable talent and how to become a voice over.

Are you a character actor? Are you a romantic lead? Are you the bad guy? Are you the good guy?

It’s very likely you fall into one of these types. This is where you begin as this is most likely how you’re perceived first and foremost.

Breaking with conventional wisdom, the first professional auditions you go on you’ll discover you’re continually asked to “just be yourself.”  “Well, who the heck is that?  I got into this business to ‘be’ someone else!” Most talent feel far more comfortable remaining safely behind the character they’ve created, rather than exposing their vulnerability as themselves.   What a frightening prospect.  Besides the whole thing is completely confusing. No wonder determining your type is such a conundrum.

You have to ask yourself, “What roles am I MOST LIKELY to play?”

Do yourself a favor and keep it simple.

If you honestly intend to work in voice over, secure acting jobs, and become a voice actor, then consider How To Become a Valuable Voice Over: What Every Talent Needs To Know your initial entrance point. However, it’s up to you to apply yourself and do the work of it.  And there’s plenty of that to be done—always!

Copyright © 2014 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.