Voiceover has long been a booming market, but since the onset of the pandemic, it has taken on a new importance in the industry. And that means there is more VO work to be had than ever. Whether it’s animated series and films or commercial projects, endless gigs are casting voice talent these days—and many of those jobs can be done directly from your bedroom. If 2022 is the year you’re ready to delve into VO work, you’ve come to the right place.
Below, esteemed voiceover actors and experts alike share their top tips to give the (vocal) performance of a lifetime.
“[Working in voiceover is extra special because] from listening to you, they found something; your voice is the one they need for this project. It’s almost like you’re behind the curtain at Oz, when you don’t have the visage—the face and body and all of that—to distract; you only have the voice.”
Jeff Bergman: Take inspiration from the aural world around you.
“Anybody who wants to have a career in voiceover or a career in animation or doing book tapes or industrials, whatever it is—if you love it and you’re passionate about it, keep recording yourself. Listen to everything that inspires you and anyone that inspires you…. I think anything that you gravitate toward is probably something that you’re already inspired by and interested in, and you might even be led in that direction.”
Giancarlo Esposito: Train in voiceover, benefit in every other performance type.
“[Early in my career working in radio,] I used my voice. So that training has led me to be on the mic quite a bit. I’ve got a couple of projects coming out where I’m the voice of the product, or some system. That has really guided me in terms of being intimate with the mic, having that Broadway musical stage presence sort of come out, because [in voiceover] we do things in a celebratory, songful way. I feel like my early [radio] career has been training for the discipline of film and television.”
Gary Janetti: Always keep it grounded—yes, even working in animation.
“Even with animated characters, sometimes you have to feel for them and you have to like them, and they have to be real. I think with voice acting for animation, it’s always more of a heightened universe, so you can play a bit more. But at the same time, they should always feel like real people. Don’t make it cartoony. If you can keep it connected [to] some kind of truth, that will always be much funnier and will translate better.”
Judy Greer: Treat your VO career as its own entity.
“I would just say if you have an acting agent, to start pressing them about voiceover gigs. If your agency has a voiceover department—I’m lucky mine does, but if your agency doesn’t—then I would say to find a voiceover agent or have your agent help you find a voiceover agent. Listen to commercials and try to hear what they’re doing. As far as scripted stuff, that would fall under an agent category, in which case you’re auditioning for that like you would a live-action thing. Just try to be persistent, and push your team to get you those auditions.”
Denise Woods: Yes, you should still use your body in the recording booth.
“For voice acting, the imagination has to be broader, bigger, more expansive, more detailed. You can’t just see blue—you’ve got to see turquoise. You don’t have the luxury of people seeing your face. The imagination should come first. The imagination should affect what you do in the booth with your body. Then, that affects the voice. It’s a ripple effect.”
Aaron Augenblick: Don’t be afraid to try something outside your comfort zone.
“I would encourage any actors to really dig deep and experiment and find new voices. We want to hear new characters. The first time we heard Homer Simpson, we had never heard a voice like that. It was such a strange performance [Dan Castellaneta] was doing, and it obviously evolved over time, but it was a groundbreaking way to [do] voice animation. That’s what we want. I want the new Homer Simpson. Who [are] the new ‘South Park’ voices? Who [are] the new ‘Simpsons’ voices? That’s what I’m always looking out for.”
Check out Backstage’s voiceover audition listings!