If I had a dollar for every actor who has asked me about the viability of adding “voiceover talent” to their résumé, I’d be retired and leading a life of leisure on a sunny beach in Spain. But I don’t and I’m not, so instead, I’ll let you know how I respond when people ask me that question. And the inevitable follow-ups: “Do I have to start all over again with new training and contacts? Will I need to put together a new demo package? Will I once again need to seek out the right industry pros who can advise and get me working?”
The short answer to all of the above? Yes. While it may seem daunting, don’t be deterred. Voiceover is one of the most viable branches of our industry that a talent who’s driven can seek out, master, and market right now. It’s the “hidden treasure” many actor training programs and conservatories forget to tell you about—or ignore altogether. It’s an exploding, ever-changing, and challenging sister to the stage, TV, and film gigs you book. It’s also the “wild west” of the industry, so get out your vocal six-shooter and let’s play!
As a new voiceover talent, you’ll be entering a global community of fellow artists competing and vying for VO gigs 24/7 and it will be the one with the best aim and who is fastest on the draw that will rise to the top.
So what does this all mean for you? You’ll need to become familiar with the terrain. You will be entering a worldwide club of actors who are auditioning from their home studios and booking work between their day jobs. You should know that in today’s globally connected world, companies are seeking thousands of diverse voices to represent their product and services, and the need is growing every day. Exciting, right?
If you’re ready to saddle up, here are five vital tips of the trade to help you get, stay in, and create a voiceover career with the best of them!
1. Train hard: Get yourself a killer coaching team that can advise and help you avoid the many pitfalls of this industry. This means investing in VO-specific training from folks with experience and great connections, as well as a great recording system. (“Great” doesn’t mean expansive or expensive; it means quality components that are industry standard.) Do your research and ask the right questions of your team. A great coach makes a great talent exceptional.
2. Work hard: Even when you’re not with your coaches, adopt a disciplined approach to daily uninterrupted practice sessions, including an excellent vocal, physical, and mental warm-up. Work toward a fabulous, top of the line, “industry standard” demo(s) that specifically serves the purpose of marketing your vocal portfolio to prospective clients. Being in a vocal booth for hours on end can be a marathon, so get ready to run! As an actor, you already have a rich vocabulary for character, scripts, and work habits that you can transfer right over to the microphone.
3. Invest in opportunities for maximum exposure: Create a time management chart of your week and everything you need to accomplish. Set monthly short- and long-term goals. Include time and money invested in VO tradeshows, seminars, workshops, and showcases that may help you gain connections and exposure to industry pros and casting professionals.
4. Don’t give up: Don’t give in to the desire to quit too early in the game: 99 percent of new VO talent quit within the first year, which only means that if you stick with it, you’ll have a leg up thanks to your simple tenacity and hard work. Stick with it and be creative—that’s what actors do best!
5. Have fun: This should be fun, so let your creative spirit fly. Practice and perfect all the wonderful sounds you got in trouble for in the sixth grade. Craft it, hone it, and create a unique character voice. Maybe one day, someone will pay you oodles of money to purchase the rights to the voice that used to drive your middle school math teacher crazy!
*This post was originally published on Feb. 21, 2019. It has since been updated.
Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!
The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.