Most of us have the idea that those folks on the other side of the glass on a voiceover session will be feeding us every nuance and notion. Now, this may be something of a lightning bolt striking from the blue, but you are not likely to get any direction at all! The direction you do get will be limited, if not flat-out confusing, which is why we’ve taken the time to define the limited vocabulary you may come across on a commercial session or shoot.

Far too many actors kill a perfectly wonderful opportunity to play and create by trying to second-guess the director or producer. To heck with that—how do you think the spot should go? Don’t think about it; don’t tell us what you’re going to do—just DO IT (there’s a reason why it’s called acting). Work it up in the lobby or the greenroom or some hallway just off the auditioning area, but whatever you do, play with it! Don’t sit and wait for someone to come hold your hand and lead you.

Don’t assume the copy (the script) is broken simply because you don’t get it yet. If you don’t get it yet, either read it out loud until you do or (here’s a novel idea) ASK! If there’s anything to get, I’m certain they’d be happy to tell you.

On the other hand, if you happen to know the grammar is incorrect or the sentence is actually saying something other than what the advertisers are truly driving at, by all means, tactfully let the powers that be know. But be sure you know that’s truly the case before even opening your gob!

Ninety-nine percent of the time, there’s no hidden message. The director is usually trying his hardest not to step on your talented toes by giving you a line reading—so give the guy a break. Get in there and have a ball. But if he has a suggestion you truly can’t decipher, tell him to give you a line reading! It’s not going to hurt anyone. It cuts to the chase, and everyone goes home happy. Maybe they’ll invite you back to play with them again sometime.

You obviously have the stuff—you wouldn’t be there if you didn’t—so let the director see how you’d tell this story. If he has a specific idea, he’ll guide you toward it—just listen and apply from there. And if the director needs a line to be said in a certain way—remember this: You’re there to help. In the meantime, be decisive in your reads. Be bold. Have fun. Stretch the canvas, as I like to say. Keep it loose. And be willing to drop that attack and go in a completely different direction. THAT’S THE JOB! We’re all about service, baby.

You are truly capable of a limitless number of deliveries. Make it your mission at the onset of every audition and every session to discover just a few of them on the spot by means of play. That’s what you’re getting paid for.

You are not, on the other hand, paid to judge each delivery you make. Deciding for the director which take you happened to like best is rarely—if ever—welcomed. Trust me, you don’t have the best vantage point to make that call. There are a few big pieces to this puzzle that you are clearly missing.

Let it go. It’s not your job to piece the whole thing together anyway. Your job is simply to stand and deliver in your most alive, animated, genuine way. Capisce? Obviously, you have brought to the table what it is they need to complete that detail of the spot, so get in there and play. And, please, have some fun with it, will you?

Copyright © 2009 by Kate McClanaghan, Inc. All Rights Reserved