After more than 50 combined years in the entertainment industry, examining the unique nature of the voiceover business and craft of voiceover acting, we find ourselves mystified by the persistence of various myths perpetuated among those seeking to break into the voiceover acting industry.
- I already have a great sounding voice so voiceover acting should be easy for me.
- I’ve been doing kooky voices since I was a kid. I’d be perfect for animation.
- Everyone tells me I should do voiceovers.
- I’ll be able to quit my job and finally do something I love.
- Once I get an agent,I’ll be on my way.
- It’s easy work and the money is great.
One of the reasons these myths persist, even today, is the historical inertia of the teachers or voiceover coaches that practice through perpetrating the myths. Again, many will turn away if they hear that voiceover acting is more challenging and competitive than they thought, and that the monetary investment can be substantial. One of the best things about human beings is that we tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, that’s also one of the ways by which we are so easily duped by promises of success.
We’ve met many excellent voiceover teachers who are the real deal. They have both theoretical training and practical experience on the job and have maintained long and successfulcareers. They mostly come from the ranks of acting, agenting, casting, and directing. They have three things in common:
They have a knack for imparting their relevant knowledge to others in a meaningful way; they are clearly ethical in the performance of their service to others; and their students move on to compete in the workforce.
The “knack” is everything. We can all recall a special teacher or two who made a huge impact on our lives. Often this knack is a gift that cannot be taught and may take years for the teacher to develop. As a student, you know it when you experience it and you learn of these special teachers through word of mouth. They don’t perpetuate myths or play into the student’s naïveté. They set out to teach you how to get yourself working. Period.
For these teachers, there is nothing more rewarding than to guide a dedicated student from an awkward novice to a confident professional—to witness the student securing an agent and booking her first job. In fact, it is not until the teacher experiences this kind of success, through his students, that he comes into his own as a teacher. One’s experience teaching is at least as important as his practical work experience gained prior to teaching. A teacher without successful students is still learning to teach.
Getting back to the persistence of myths, and assuming we all got good grades in Ethics 101, let’s look once again at the facts behind the myths listed above.
- There’s no denying the gift of having a voice that naturally draws positive attention. This fact, however, does not in any way lessen the training you will require to become a voice actor.
- Having a handful of kooky voices is great. You’ll need dozens of kooky voices to impress a casting director, and each had better be fully fleshed out with an authentic emotional range. Training is in order.
- When people regularly respond positively to your voice—(“You should get into voiceovers!”)—know that it’s your natural speaking voice that they’re hearing. You want to carry over your natural voice into voiceover acting, not the idea of what you or they may think voiceover acting is.
Myths to Mastery Continued…
- Keep your day job. You won’t be making lots of money in the near future. The results of talent, preparation, persistence, and personal relationships are promised to no one.
- You definitely want to acquire an agent, but doing so does not produce jobs. It produces auditions. The voice actor must book the audition in order to have the job.
- Voiceover acting is fun and the masters make it look easy, but it is not easy until it becomes easy. Prepare to work through some major ups and downs before you truly get a handle on the craft. Then prepare to work more.
The myths, as we said at the beginning, are persistent. This is the reason we come back to them from time to time. This is why That’s Voiceover!™ and the Voice Arts® Awards are vitally important events to attend. They bring together the world of voiceover acting from the actor to the teacher to the agent, producers, casting directors, and buyers. This is where you have the opportunity tobegin your journey in earnest and on solid footing. Even if you’re an experienced pro, this is where you hone your understanding to the utmost degree and meet key industry players who can forward your career. There’s no GPS system for reaching your destination as a voice actor. The sooner you learn to read the map, the sooner you’ll get where you want to go. Now, get out there.