Steps for Becoming a Voice Actor

Steps for Becoming a Voice Actor
You know that a voice actor is one that provides the voices in animated films and TV shows, provides narration for documentaries, does voice-overs for commercials on TV and radio, and so much more. If you enjoy acting and your voice is unique, this could potentially be the right career for you. Becoming a voice actor will require that you hone your craft, make sure that you get your voice heard, and getting out on lots of auditions. Since this is such a competitive industry, being a voice over actor is not for the weak. However, with lots of perseverance, hard work, and know how, you can be well on your way to becoming a voice actor. Check out VO Genesis to learn more about voice over acting.

Develop Your Talent

If you want to become a voice over actor, you must first develop your talent.

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Practice Reading Aloud

You can start by practicing reading as many things out loud as you can. After all, in order to become a voice actor, you must be able to effectively read aloud, especially if the job requires that you read from a teleprompter or script. Spend time reading things like books, news articles, magazines and more on a daily basis so that you become more comfortable with it. Spend at least 30 minutes reading aloud each day. Be sure to work on your intonation and enunciation. As you are reading, try changing the sound of our voice. When you’re practicing reading aloud, make sure to use a variety of material to help improve your voice. Start with something like Dr. Seuss and then move on to something more challenging such as The Hobbit. Later, try something like poetry for a bit of a challenge. You should never sound as if you are reading, but as if you were performing. You should be bringing the words to life.

Record Your Voice

When you’re reading from a script or reciting a monologue, try recording it. Then, play it back to see what you sound like and make some notes to help yourself improve. You may be surprised by the sound of your own voice. After all, the way you sound on a recording isn’t necessarily the way you sound to yourself. Take note of any necessary changes and get used to the way you sound on recording so that you can be effective in expressing yourself over a microphone.

Speak from Your Diaphragm

When you are listening to the recording of your voice, think about your voice and whether it is coming from your diaphragm or your chest, nose, or mouth. A voice that is nasal sounding is whiny and unpleasant to listen to. A mouth voice is quiet. A chest voice is pleasant. However, when you’re speaking from your diaphragm, your voice is more powerful and has the best sound. To develop your diaphragm voice, practice deep breathing and pay attention to the rise and fall of your stomach. Then, make sounds that come from your diaphragm, such as yawning or laughing. Once you get used to doing this, you just need to maintain the voice. You can work with a voice coach to help you with this.

Practice Vocal Exercises

There are certain exercises that can be helpful in learning to control and improve your voice. Most of these are rooted in breathing. You can try humming a scale while blowing through a straw to control your breaths. You can also try lying on the floor, deeply inhaling and exhaling, while making a “shh” sound as you exhale. Even sitting up straight, shoulders back, can make a huge difference in the way your voice sounds. You might also want to practice articulation with tongue twisters such as repeating: “Red Leather, Yellow Leather” over and over.

Try Imitating Voices

When you learn to imitate a particular sound, you are building flexibility, recognize tone and pitch, and give you some great material you can include on your demo recording. Of course, learning impersonation is not a requirement for being a voice artist, but it does help when you are able to change the sound of your voice. This allows you to be more versatile and helps with your acting skills. Try to match their voice as well as their personality- this will allow you to bring them to life instead of simply imitating the way they sound.

Learn Improvisation

Many voice acting directors require that you be able to improvise in character. This allows you to truly bring a character to life and think the way they do. Once you have gotten into a character, try to tell a funny anecdote in the voice of the character. If you need some help, have a friend help by asking you questions for you to respond in the way you think the character would. For example, if you’re doing an impression of Kermit the Frog, you could tell a story about asking Miss Piggy out.

Take Classes or Work with a Coach

This will be beneficial in helping you develop your acting talent. While it’s true that voice actors don’t appear on screen, they must be talented enough to effectively deliver their lines. Keep in mind that in some ways, voice acting is harder because you don’t have other actors to feed off of and the audience is not able to see your facial expressions, body movements, or hand gestures. In addition, you don’t have props or tools to help aid in the delivery of your lines- your emotions and personality must come through your voice. If you’re in school, join the theater department and audition for plays or one-acts that are in production. If you’re not in school, look into joining your local community theater and participate in some local productions.

Take Voice Lessons

Another great idea is to have voice lessons at least once per week. This will help expand your vocal range and teach you to be in control of your volume and sound. You might need to do some research into several voice teachers to find the best fit. A good teacher will be able to help you develop strong control and technique, as well as help you find your unique voice. In addition, a good teacher will be able to instruct you on the best ways to warm up your voice. There are a variety of vocal warmups you can use. Work with several different ones so that you can make your voice stronger and be more in control.

Market Yourself

Once you have developed your voice, you need to work on marketing yourself.

Make a Demo

A demo reel/tape is a voice actor’s way of showcasing his talent when he’s looking for work. Your demo reel/tape can be made of original works or imitations of characters and scripts that are already in existence. It’s critical that you have a good demo reel/tape to represent you and showcase your range and skill set. You can create your own or you can have one professionally done. If you plan to record your own, make sure that you pay close attention to the quality of sound and do it somewhere that there’s no background noise. You don’t want anything to get in the way of your voice. You can also hire a professional to do one for you. This can cost a lot of money- and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have a good demo, but you can be sure you’ll have a quality recording. The content is what is most important in a demo reel/tape. You can still make a quality recording in your own home with a good microphone and a quiet room. When you’re making your demo, make sure to start strong. Your best work should be showcased in the first 30 seconds. After all, that’s about all a potential employer is going to watch- so make it count. Your demo reel shouldn’t be more than 1-2 minutes long and should get straight to the point, but also showcasing several voices. If your demo is for a specific position, be sure that the content is relevant. After all, if you’re auditioning for a male character, you don’t want to show off your old lady impression, right?

Build Your Resume

Like many other jobs, in order to get work- you need to have work experience. This can be a bit of a challenge when you’re just starting out. Do whatever you can to gain experience so that you can build your resume. Take some classes in acting, attend some workshops, create a YouTube channel featuring some original content, join the community theater, volunteer to be the announcer at local school sports games, narrate an e-book, or anything else related to voice acting that you can so that you have things to list on your resume. This will be beneficial for helping you look experienced when a casting director sees your resume- plus, it helps develop your skills. You must keep in mind that your resume is more important than headshots when it comes to voice acting. Sure, professional headshots are nice to have, but they can cost a lot of money and they don’t really help you land a job because your looks don’t matter if you’re doing voice overs.

Find an Agent

Just like with other areas of acting, a voice actor’s career is enhanced with an agent representing him. Your agent will be able to notify you of casting calls and can match you with the best jobs for you. They help market you and are in charge of your career. They will negotiate salaries for you. Your agent will earn a commission from your jobs. They will be able to find out about jobs that are not necessarily open to the public. Find some talent agents in your area and send them your resume and demo reel/tape. Then, work with the one that you feel the most comfortable with. Having an agent will help get your voice acting career to the next level. When you reach this point, you’ve already taken the time to develop your voice and decided the type of work that you want to do. Make sure that the agent you choose to work with specializes in voice acting. Plus, you want to determine if you want to work in TV, radio, or film and find an agent that specializes in that industry.

Send Your Info to Studios

Take the time to look up all of the studios in your area and send them your resume and demo reel/tape. If you’re willing and able to travel, you can send your resume across the country. Of course, you must understand that you will likely have to wait for an answer and you will have lots of rejection letters/calls to deal with. Studios are always getting demos and you may or may not fit what they need. Of course, you should also keep in mind that just because you don’t get an answer right away doesn’t mean they won’t be interested. Perhaps they don’t currently have a part that fits with your style, but they are going to keep you on file for the future.

Build Online Portfolio

Your career is helped by having a strong online presence. You can create your own website using a service such as WordPress, create a YouTube channel to showcase your skills, or use social media to create accounts specifically for your career. These days, casting directors are consulting the internet to find the talent they need. If someone has heard of you, it’s a good idea to make it as easy as you can for people to find you and see what all you are able to do. Having pages dedicated to your voice work makes it easy to market yourself.

Choose the Best Location

If you’re serious about pursuing a career as a voice actor, you want to be living in a large city with a large base for the voice acting industry. Though the internet has decreased this pressure, it’s still a good idea to be right in the middle of things. Some of the best cities in the US for voice actors are: Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York.

Start Auditioning

If you don’t audition, you’re not likely to get a job, right? So here are some tips for auditioning in the voice acting industry.

Attend Open Calls

Even if you’ve done all of the above and you don’t have an agent yet and haven’t heard from one of the studios, you can still attend open calls. Anyone can attend an open call- that’s why its an “OPEN” call. Of course, this means that there will be lots of people and you’ll have very little time to showcase yourself. Even if you know you’re not likely to land the job, it’s still good practice and will help you become accustomed to being seen by casting directors and auditioning.

Do Online Auditions

Since voice acting is something that can be done with only a microphone, you can even do some auditions from your home. There are some ways that you can find voice acting listings online. The internet is changing the face of the way casting occurs- and when you don’t live in or near a big city, online auditioning is a great option for you.

Do Lots of Auditions

Due to the fact that acting is a highly competitive market, there are some that believe the real work of an actor is the audition. You are likely to go on many auditions before booking one gig- and as soon as you complete one job, you’ll have to start auditioning all over again for the next one. This means that you need to embrace the audition process and go on as many as you can. This will help keep your voice in shape and keep you sharp when you do land a job. The more auditions you go on, the better your chances of getting a job. You should audition for roles that you don’t even think you’re right for. After all, you never know what a director wants.

Do Your Homework

When you’re preparing for an audition, prepare yourself ahead of time. You should make sure that you are hydrated and that your voice is sufficiently warmed up. Make sure that you have taken the time to get to know the script and how you plan to deliver it. This will also be a great way to ease your nerves in an audition environment. In addition, make sure you have some other dialogue prepared in case the director wants to see what else you are capable of. Try getting inside the characters head and get past the words on the script. Figure out who the character is and what is important to them. Determine why they are saying those words. You might find it helpful to write down your ideas about the character to get through the important aspects of them. This will help give your character life.

Be on Time

When you are attending an audition, keep in mind that punctuality is critical. To make sure that you are prompt, arrive about 10 minutes or so ahead of time. This allows you to have a moment to get settled and scan through your script one last time.

Dress Properly

While it’s true that your appearance isn’t important for voice acting, the impression you give does say a lot. Therefore, make sure that you dress appropriately. Don’t wear old, raggy t-shirt and torn jeans. Keep in mind the character you’re auditioning for and dress professionally. For example, if you are auditioning for the role of ninja, you don’t have to wear a ninja costume, but it is a good idea to wear a button-down, black shirt. VO Genesis can help you learn more about voice over acting and how to be a professional voice over actor.

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