“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do.  Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors.  Try to be better than yourself!”
– William Faulkner

RedCarpet The Ultimate Working Actor

If Cary Grant is forever the ultimate movie star, then the title for ultimate working actor has to go to Mr. Charles Lane.

Who is Charles Lane, you very well may ask? It’s more likely you’d know his face (and demeanor) than his name. Charles Lane was—and is the consummate character actor. You always knew what you were going to get.  This is what made him valuable and could easily be attributed to why he worked as long and as much as he did.

His type has afforded him decades upon decades of work. In fact, if he weren’t such a defined type, it’s not likely we’d recognize him or what he brought to every production he graced. He found his niche and it’s worked for him for more than 100 years, as he lived to be 102.

Born in 1905, this centurion has managed to appear in nearly 100 television appearances and more than 250 movies, not the least of which was It’s a Wonderful Life in which his character stated, “It’s no skin off my nose, but someday, Mr. Potter, this bright, young man is going to be asking George Bailey for a job!”


Regardless of Mr. Lane’s achievements, the irony is there’s a prevalent consideration among actors of becoming pigeonholed: confined to playing the same sort of character or genre until they’re identified indefinitely only as one type. To be honest, it would actually be a very good problem to have to work steady simply because you’re well established as the go-to Mom, or the hapless, yet loveable best friend, or the cop/killer type, or what have you. I realize this may be a rather novel viewpoint, but I encourage you to focus on defining your true type first, and then branch out from there.

For example, Brad Pitt is generally cast as a handsome wild card. This guy was never your average romantic lead, because with him there’s always an element included in his performance that he might be dangerous.  He’s either the sexy predator or is after the predator.  This has been consistent throughout his career.  If you were to boil it down, he could be considered the romantic rogue.

Clint Eastwood started out the tough, long-weathered, “real” guy who just happened to be a cowboy.  Come to think of it he still is.  The tough, seasoned, earthy-honest, every man who just happens to be… a baseball scout… a retired Vet… a former CIA chief… (pick one).

So maybe this pigeonhole business isn’t such a bad thing after all because it helps define us.  So, how can you better utilize the benefits of your type?

  • Play what you know first, then branch out from there once you’re established
  • It’s not only okay to be yourself, it’s your strong suit.  (And this business is a great, big poker game—lead with power!)
  • Consider skills you’ve cultivated and honed as a youth, to define who you are now
  • You have a type written into your face/voice. Whether you personify that type in real life or not, this is how you’re seen, much like Hepburn as an aristocrat, or Cagney as a gangster, or Grant as the romantic leading man.
  • You can find your niche sometimes by playing against type, like Jim Carrey did in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Lastly, versatility has as much to do with mastering a variety of media (like film, TV, commercials, voice-over) as it does a number of performance styles. All the more reason you don’t have to be everything but you do need to understand how you come across

So, in conclusion, concentrate on who you are, first and foremost. You’re far more likely to be cast for being yourself. This can be the hardest thing to play, especially when you’re offering a performance with no effort in sight.  No one is interested in seeing you work at a character.

Best advice: Concentrate on mastering what you do best and make yourself available to whoever might have a use for it.  The moral to the story: Do what you know first.  Master that.  See where that leads you.  Thus is the way of the artist.  › 

The Most Promising ISDN Replacement YET!

Perhaps you’ve heard the latest (and potentially greatest) British invasion since the Beatles hit our shores a month or so ago. If not, allow me: It’s called ipDTL (internet protocol Down The Line) a Web App created by British-based tech company In:Quality. It’s designed to replace the extremely expensive, antiquated, professional-grade, studio-to-studio patching option known as ISDN. ipDTL is a potential voice-over industry game changer which inexpensively allows producers to connect directly with your home recording studio from nearly any where they may be and edit in real time: provided both parties have Google Chrome, a stable Internet connection and at least one of the two parties is subscribed to ipDTL.

Currently this exciting new option could very well allow us, as SOUND ADVICE, to record your demo from your simple home recording set up with minimal added expense, provided your home studio sound quality meets our recording standards, while offering you greater opportunities to patch with potential producers on future bookings. 

We will have the SourceConnect version, called SourceConnect NOW, which is technically identical to ipDTL, but FREE to any existing SourceConnect subscriber (like US), which is scheduled to be released THIS week! According to our Head of Tech, Jeff Finney, SourceConnect NOW has greater features than the ipDTL version. (Jeff’s tested both.)  So far these two ISDN replacement options are very promising.

They’re very new and not fully road-tested just yet, but the key here is potential!  So, we’ll keep you posted as this new technology is (ideally) embraced by the industry.  ›

How to Build Your Cold Reading Skills

It’s not very likely you’ll get the copy (script) in advance of your auditions, unless you’re auditioning for an on-camera role for film or TV. All the more reason to build your skills as a strong cold reader and the best way to develop those skills is to read anything and everything out loud.

It’s been our experience that once you have produced your demos with us and promoted them well, it’s very likely you will be booked (hired) right off of them. In fact, you may discover, as so many of our SOUND ADVICE clients do, the likelihood of getting hired directly from your tracks increases by as much as 80 percent with those who consistently promote themselves. In which case you won’t have the benefit of the audition to become familiar with the copy prior to the session. Therefore, the first time you read the spot will be in front of the client while you’re in the booth. The point is there’s no underestimating the importance of building and maintaining effective cold reading skills.  


If you’re already a strong cold reader—wonderful! Then, the only caution is becoming too set in a single delivery, offering no room for discovery or play.

Regardless, you must read a cold script no fewer than six times through just to discover what the script is trying to say. The degree of difficulty will vary with each script and from project to project, but it’s imperative you animate the read fully (or stretch the canvas as we call it here at SOUND ADVICE), especially during your first few reads. The object is to expand your performance playing field right from the start to offer the very best results.

Avoid giving yourself too long a runway by ramping up into your performance. This can occur when you unwittingly find yourself attempting to craft only one perfect take. The unfortunate effect is often stiff and robotic after 10 or more takes, which can be extremely difficult to break free from. 

Your goal as a talent is to offer a handful of honest, appropriate options within the perimeters of the project. The result will be uniquely YOU!

All the more reason to schedule coaching with us a few times a year to hone your performance muscle, otherwise these skills will atrophy. Even if that coaching is done via Skype, it’s your responsibility to maintain and sharpen your performance skills.

Click here for more info: ›

Oscars 2014

Don’t miss the Oscars this year, broadcast live on Sunday March 2, 2014 on ABC at 7pm EST/4pm PST.  This year’s race is the closest in ages and should prove to be a remarkably entertaining night, whether you’ve had the chance to see all the nominees or not. 

What does this have to do with voice-over?  It’s a pop-culture on parade!  If you’re not familiar with what’s current, this is a grand opportunity to catch up.  (Besides the commercials are worth studying too.)  Enjoy!  › 


Copyright © 2014 by Kate McClanaghan, All Rights Reserved.