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NY Acting Markets: Voiceovers

Many actors want to get into voiceovers. The promise of solid pay for work that can be done in sweatpants has attracted plenty of New York actors to the market in recent years. Too many, if you ask Monica Trombetta, an actor who makes the bulk of her living in the field. "It's saturated," she says. "There are a lot of people who do it because everybody thinks it's really easy to do."

The perception that voiceover is easy is easily exploded. While voiceover actors don't have to worry about looking the part in auditions, they have to stand out from a growing crowd. "Unless they're going for a celebrity in the voiceover world, we're almost a dime a dozen," Trombetta says. "You can build a career in it, but there's such high turnover in the voiceover world."

To make your mark in that world, Trombetta strongly recommends a killer demo reel. Joan Baker, a voiceover actor and coach and author of the book "Secrets of Voice-Over Success," agrees. For an actor new to the city, she says, developing a relationship with a coach who actually works in the field can be a plus. "You're going to want to work with them, because when you do your demo reel, they're going to have access to the hottest sound engineers," Baker says. "What that does is it creates a demo reel that reflects what's happening now in voiceover on television."

Baker says vocal training is important for several other reasons: "You want to work with someone who has an active career, because they're going to have access to copy that is happening now. Also, [actors] are going to want to know the trends that are happening." The biggest current trend in commercial voiceovers, according to Baker, is a natural sound. "It's a very unaffected read, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't take training to get that."

Training for voiceovers is different from the vocal training that most actors undergo. Says Carrie Faverty, a casting director at Sound Lounge, voiceover training is "more about taking the copy and making it come to life, so that it doesn't sound like you're reading behind the microphone." In that vein, she recommends that voiceover artists take an improv class to learn how to play with copy and bring their own unique spin to it.

What's the most important thing to remember? "Don't go into it to make money," Faverty says. "You should go into it for fun. It's less about how great your voice is and more about being able to take the copy off the page."

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