When it comes to voice-over, you can break down types into three (albeit broad) categories:
The Unusual Voice. This is a voice that is unequaled and difficult to compare. This one may not be correct for everything but, with a generous serving of tenacity, it can catch on. Examples include Wallace Shawn, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Tilly and Peter Lorre.
The Personality-Driven Voice. This is a voice that simply has a good, natural tone, because this person sounds like himself. He sounds knowledgeable and comfortable in his skin. What sets this voice apart from the rest is the willingness to convey a point of view (POV) naturally. There may even be a dialect, slight impediment, or affect on this voice. None of that matters provided the talent is committed to the POV, and the delivery sounds like the text is what he actually thinks, what he has experienced personally. Owen Wilson, Holly Hunter, Peter Coyote, Tommy Lee Jones, Wilford Brimley, and Martin Sheen are all examples of this kind of voice.
The Salt and Pepper Voice. I call it such because this is a voice that’s correct for so many things, so many national campaigns, it can be used effectively in nearly everything. Two steadfast, rank-and-file talent come to mind: Debbie Kellogg and Pete Stacker. Both are well-established, hardworking voice talent from Chicago. These folks so effectively provide the “mental wallpaper” required on so many projects they are scarcely acknowledged, but if you stopped and thought about it—you’d realize: “That voice sounds familiar.”
Concentrate on mastering what you do best and make yourself available to whoever might have a use for it so you can ultimately get whatever kind of work you want. Thus is the way of the artist.
The moral of the story: Do what you know. Master that. See where that leads you.
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