"I Want To Do What You Do"
Have you recently asked yourself,
"How do I get into voice over?"
"How do I pursue voice over as a full-time actor?"
Apparently a lot of you have. I've been asked questions like these two so often recently, I wanted to write this blog and help you, the curious actor. Here I am speaking to you from my own experience, my training, my current knowledge of the industry, and most importantly - my heart. I'm laying it all on the line to help you - the one reading this considering a career in voice over. So, here is my honest opinion. It's not the key to the city, let's not be silly, but it's a stepping stone on your path to a dream come true.
Now. Picture Robert De Niro. Or don't, that's okay too. It just adds to the impending drama!
"So..You wanna to do voice over, egh?
You want to be a, voice artist..errr, be a voice over artist?
You want to be a professional voice actor. Okay, okay..."
Before we go any further, you don't have to picture De Niro anymore. Let me address the image at the top of this blog. A stock photo of a handsome young lad who appears ready to set your levels. I chose this specific image over the voice over images you're used to seeing with someone wearing headphones, smiling into a mic. If you don't recognize this critical role in what you are considering to be your future life-long, loving career - you really need to pay attention to what I'm about to say. Remember. I'm writing this for you because at one time, I was in your shoes.
Dear aspiring voice actor,
Thank you for reading. At this point, you are here because one day you dream of narrating Shark Week, or fast-talking legal tags in medical commercials, or replace dialogue in movies, or play baddies in video games, or known as, "The voice of..." for generations of kids, playing a famous talking animal with no pants...or an inanimate object specifically known for wearing square pants. Insert laugh of Tom Kenny's iconic sponge friend, HERE.
Hopefully, you are not here because you have been told that you have an, "amazing voice" and think if your friends, family and potentially a large volume of huddled masses (that are your adoring fans) hear your voice in your dream job, you will automatically henceforth forever, and ever be known as FAMOUS and the riches will pour down upon you like the chocolatey delicious rivers of Wonka's chocolate factory.
This career is not a pipe-dream. This is not a get rich quick career, nor is it for the faint of heart. Only the dedicated, hard-working, kind-hearted, humble actors who can't help themselves from creating fantasy out of their imagination by performing, entertaining, and making a professional, profitable business doing it, survive. Or, maybe you are here because you've been lead to believe this career is for you. I hope this helps.
P.S.If what you say is true, and you truly wish to pursue a career as a professional voice actor, I have one question for you:
Are you an Actor? If NO - See #1 below
YES! You're an actor. Bonus.
Follow up questions you will be asked or need:
How long have you been acting?
ALL of the above will help bolster your abilities to perform as a professional voice actor in the vast void that is your space to play. That is, the beloved booth, or perhaps the stage that is motion capture, performance capture. Hopefully you're constantly stretching these muscles and many others not listed here.
1. No, I'm not an actor. Yet. I want to be a voice actor.
"There’s nothing more attractive to an agent, manager, casting director, director, or virtually anyone else in the industry than working with a professional actor. On the flip side, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to work with an actor who just doesn’t get it—a wannabe."- Backstage.com
Maybe you don't see yourself as an actor - yet, but maybe you're the amateur impressionist, the friend known for having a beautiful singing voice, and talent. For all intensive purposes, you are an entertainer, a performer. You can still learn to become a professional actor, but this is a mandatory prerequisite.
First, you must realize the industry of television and film is for professionals. This includes all aspects of voice over. The ability to make funny voices isn't going to cut it. Simply having an "amazing voice," isn't going to cut it. For this endeavor, it will require: a lot of hard work, dedication, a financial investment, talent, and very, very tough skin. Did I mention tough skin? We're talking, rhino tough.
Every actor is subject to constant rejection. Even that's being generous. I think, "ghosting" is a better, relevant way to put it. Voice actors are constantly submitting audition after audition and with that, constantly hearing the faint chirp of crickets and a tiny violin. Get used to it! The good news is - the auditions will keep coming. In fact, the only time they don't is when you give up and think of quitting. That's when it's time to remember what that angel, Jack once said.
"Every step of the way is a positive...if you look at it that way you're not carrying this bag of, 'I lost' all the time. In fact, you can't lose because it was never yours to lose. You can't lose something that wasn't yours in the first place." - Jack Angel
2. When do I know I'm ready to record my first demo?
As Bob Bergen would say, "You know you're ready, when you don't have to ask yourself, Am I ready?" To that I say, do not rush your first demo. Your demos are a beautiful investment in your career, a spoken word of what you, and only you bring to this industry. Make it count. Record when you know you're ready, and record with a trusted demo producer.
Related: Your First Voice Over Demo is Done. Now What?
3. When do I get the agent who makes me a star?
First of all, slow down. If your math was, demo, agent, fortune and fame, that = DISASTER. However, you also think like a lot of talent who flock to Los Angeles with hopes of fame and riches. If you can't be bothered to get the job done yourself, don't bother the professional talent agencies busy with rosters full of hardworking actors.
Dan's Top 10 Ways to Win in Voice Over:*
Act. Theater, on camera, student projects, etc.
Read, Voice Over Voice Actor.
Watch, I Know That Voice.
Listen. VO Buzz Weekly.
Learn. Find vetted voice over classes.
Yes, and IMPROV classes.
Coach. Find one! Or take classes (#5)
Build your home studio.
Network, network, network.
Practice, play, prepare.
* Success is never guaranteed but often granted to those who put in the time and work.