So You Want to Be a Voice Actor

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Let’s get real: what actor doesn’t dream of a voiceover career? Perhaps you’ve been told over the years by random strangers in passing (i.e. not just your mom) that you have a super cool distinctive texture to your voice. Maybe you’re a 30-year-old soccer mom who secretly rocks her Bart Simpson when the kids are out of the car. Or your boyfriend makes such convincing animal sounds (lions, tigers, and bears oh my) that you’re convinced he must join the cast of DreamWorks next talking animal movie. But hold please: The fantasy of recording in your home studio in your pajamas collecting ongoing residuals may seem super easy and fun on the surface. But a lucrative and fulfilling career as a voice actor does not happen overnight.

Welcome to “Speak Easy,” a new monthly online column devoted exclusively to voiceover casting. Every month this column will feature a different angle of the casting process. I’ll include in-depth interviews with working voice actors and voice directors, share epic successes and epic fails from auditions, and often include tech topics such as demo reels, investing in a home studio booth ,and much, much more.

Here are three reasons to read new my new "Speak Easy" column:

1. I’ll give you secrets from inside the audition room on the process of casting animation, voiceover and video games and more.

2. I’ll debunk plenty of voiceover myths and delusions, and offer practical tips and tricks to help you nail your auditions.

3. Because I’m an expert. Seriously. I’m an award-winning casting director who spent five years as head of Feature Animation casting at Walt Disney Animation Studios from 2002 until 2007. I’ve cast animated feature films such as “The Incredibles,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and the upcoming “Rock Dog” starring Luke Wilson, J.K. Simmons, and Mae Whitman. I’ve cast voices for animated series (“Peter Rabbit” on Nick Jr.), national commercial campaigns such as Charmin, and the insanely popular video game World of WarCraft. Talk about loyal fans!

So trust me. I’ve worked in all areas of voice for over 10 years and want to help you!

Let’s start with some basics:

Q: People often tell me I have a great voice and should do voiceover work. How do I break in?
A: You may have that natural texture in your voice, and do a spot-on Kermit the Frog, but you need more then just a unique voice to pursue a career. It’s a craft that involves precision and skill. You need practice (voiceover classes and workshops) and experience behind the microphone before you can land an animated series.

Q: Do I need a VO reel?
A: Yes. You need a professional reel for voiceovers just like you need one for television and film roles. In the olden days, reels were cassette tapes and then CDs mailed to agents and casting directors. Today everything is digital, but that doesn’t mean you should make a reel on your iPhone. You must invest in a professional reel. Many services offer coaching, recording, and editing included. Check out Ed Lewis at Ed’s philosophy: “The job of a voiceover artist is not to talk into a microphone. Although, that is fun. The job of a VO artist is to audition, audition, audition. In our technology driven world, that is becoming harder and harder. Specs and scripts can be very confusing the actors, even well trained actors.” Ed uses his experience as a trained actor (BFA Theater Performance), as an agent, and as a casting director to help actors.

Q: How can I contact you so you can answer my specific questions?
A: Email your questions to Ask smart questions. Engage in the dialogue. Do your best to be an informed actor and I will do my best to respond. And if you are in the NYC area, check out this cool event on Feb. 27. I’m one of the panelists.

That’s all for now. Until next month. Over and out.

Inspired by this story? Check out our voiceover audition listings!

Jen Rudin is an award-winning casting director and author of “Confessions of a Casting Director: Help Actors Land Any Role with Secrets from Inside the Audition Room.” (Harper Collins/It Books, 2013). Visit and follow @RudinJen.

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Jen Rudin
Jen Rudin is an award-winning casting director and author of “Confessions of a Casting Director: Help Actors Land Any Role with Secrets from Inside the Audition Room.”
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