How to Become a Voice Actor
The number one question I get from curious friends, acquaintances, family and would-be pros: how did you become a voice actor or how can I become a voice actor? Have you asked this question? I know I did! It’s an excellent question...but has a pretty complex and potentially nuanced answer. Here are some tips.
Get to know the industry
Get to know the industry’s genres. Commercial, animation, video game, corporate, live announcing, dubbing, e-learning, explainer, audio book, audio drama, industrial, broadcast, internet, streaming, union and non-union. If you’re interested in joining this wacky field, get to know every part of it. Most of us have an idea in mind of which area we would prefer before jumping in. But most of us don’t know which area our skill sets and business goals best fit. Join a social media group and start asking questions. Learn and listen and watch and discuss and soon you’ll start to map out a spot you’d fit best to begin.
Get to know industry terminology. Like all industries, this one has its own vocabulary. The more you know prior to booking your first gig, the less anxiety you will have on it and the more freedom you’ll have to create. I’ve written a brief list here and there are more out there like this one from Global Voice Acting Academy. Read, study, memorize. These words are your new language.
Get to know the industry’s players. Watch commercials and animation and make notes of not only the voice actors but the directors and casting directors and studios. Famous propmaster, Jay Duckworth, requires his apprentices make baseball trading cards for all the people who come in and out of the studio and even those they wish would come in and out of the studio.
Get to know it all.
The best voice actors are the best actors. Full stop. It doesn’t matter if their main area is mall kiosk announcing or a series regular on an pre-lay animation for Disney, good actors make excellent voice actors. The voice gives away so much. Live action can mask some of that with gesture, facial movement, camera angles, lighting and sound design. But in voice acting, you can’t hide behind any of those potential artifaces. The more time you spend studying you craft, the better and more consistent your work will be and the better your booking ratio. I started my journey in this industry as a singer. Oftentimes, singers never stop studying and perfecting their craftwork. They work with teachers and coaches up until the day they retire. Actors need the same commitment to technique and craft. If you’ve never taken an acting class, do yourself an immense favor and take a group class. Learn from your peers. Improvisation training, singing training, Alexander, Feldenkrais, breathing technique, Meisner, Hagen, Stanislavsky, Adler...and on and on and on it goes. There’s so much rich information to know and practice in this art form. Learn. Study. Practice. Repeat.
Create a business plan
Yes. Yes, I said that. Unless you’re wanting to do voice over as a fun hobby (which is TOTALLY fine!!! There are plenty of fun things to do in this industry if that is your aim) you need to make a plan. Yes, acting is an art! Yes, acting is fun! But it’s also a business and one that makes billions of dollars every year and therefore should be treated as a business. You are now the CEO of your business. How much money does your business need to make? What are its goals? How are you going to schedule and implement your accounting, marketing, office administrative and creative work on a daily basis? (to help, I wrote a book called Artist Accountability to help with this exact task...just want to throw that out there just in case “CEO” and “accounting” gave your a small panic attack).
That’s it. Just have fun. You’re worth all this work. Have a wonderful journey. Every persons' entry into voice acting has been as unique as they are. Let that uniqueness guide you. Find your vocal and performance signature. You got this. Let me know if I can help. (It's play time!)