Do you consider yourself a voice actor?
Well, whether you do or not, the fact is those most likely to hire you do see you as an actor, and they expect you to perform accordingly. Regardless of your experience level, those auditioning, or most likely to hire you, will assume you’re a professional and expect you to know your job both in and out of the booth.
Nevertheless, a great many aspiring voice talent do not consider themselves actors. When and whether they ever do is as varied and subjective as the individual talent themselves. Often because a great many would-be voice talent have little if any recent acting experience. They may come from radio and have a distinct announcer-type delivery, so they consider themselves ‘announcers’ rather than voice actors. Or they have a corporate history, and perhaps the extent of their performance background thus far has solely been public speaking.
Every talent has their own set of obstacles and assets, whether you’re an established professional actor when you first expose yourself to voice over or not. And the very same demands are required of you whether you’re an experienced voice actor or not.
Certainly a bulk of the voice over work today is considered ‘announce’. However, you’re paid to have a pulse. You’re expected to bring life to the text and have a point-of-view about what you’re talking about. Every performance you deliver is expected to sound like you’re thinking out loud, rather than the writer is putting words in your mouth like a puppet.
Unfortunately, far too many talent sound forced or sell-y, even if they have extensive experience. So, rest assured, you newbie talent out there, it’s not solely the plight of a novice voice over to require training, technique and guidance. This unwanted affectation can easily manifest after years of delivering radio announcements with the same over-the-top attack, or after voicing scores of small market reads that become a ‘muscle memory’ that’s generally considered off-putting for larger market spots and corporate narrations. There’s numerous ways this undesirable, by-rote sort of delivery can come about. Suffice it to say, every skill level of talent has obstacles to first identify and ultimately conquer.
As an actor, whether you’re just starting out, or even if you’ve been at it for a while, it’s your job:
To remain present and attentive both in and out of the booth
To offer imagination, interest, point-of-view, and a sense of effortlessness to every read, regardless of whether your performance is on-camera, on stage, or a voice over, for that matter.
You’re expected to self-direct PRIOR to any one offering you direction, and then if you are given direction that may be quite contrary to what you’ve been doing—you’re expected to just as easily change course and seamlessly adopt what you’ve been given. That takes practice, and why all talent must train.
Of course, maintaining your promotional materials (such as demos and headshots) are necessary to promote yourself and make yourself accessible to the work, otherwise hiring you will be far too much of a challenge to bother with. Your goal is to make hiring you a simple task. Every skill level of talent requires coaching and must devote no less than 5 hours a week toward developing or maintaining your performance muscle. Otherwise your skills will atrophy, and so will your career. Such is the life of a professional voice actor. It’s up to you to dedicate yourself to being a professional regardless of your experience level.
Kate McClanaghan, Inc. © 2019. All Rights Reserved.