Sooo this started off as a list of recommended resources for my voiceover coaching clients. But then I realized that I could probably include some of the commonly asked questions that I get asked as well. So here goes!
What is the correct term? Voice actor? Voiceover artist? Voice talent?
Honestly, there isn't one correct term! Some people say voiceover, some just say VO. Some say artist, actor, talent and every combination of these words you can imagine. A few of my European clients and collaborators just use the term speaker or narrator. So basically, it doesn't matter what you call yourself as long as it is clear what kind of work you do.
How do I know what style of voiceover someone is looking for?
Well, 99.9% of the time they'll tell you! There will be specifications in a casting notice; mainly what vocal age, gender, ethnicity, vocal quality, etc. they are looking for. They may be very brief in their description of the emotional tone they're going for or they may get very specific and write an entire character bio about the VO they're casting. Either way, you'll be given some direction in which to start.
Often, they will include a reference link to another ad or project which is meant to inform your performance and give you a better idea of the type of tone they're going for. A lot of times there will be a celebrity prototype included; someone well known whose energy they are trying to capture through the ad or project. And in these instances, it's not about doing an IMITATION of the person's voice, it's just about finding what their energetic essence is (aka their vibe) and finding how that energy comes through you.
For example, I often audition and book roles that include celebrity prototypes such as Kristen Bell, Anna Kendrick, Rashida Jones, Brie Larson, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ali Wong, Scarlett Johansson, and a few others I can't think of at the moment. All of these actors sound fairly different but it's usually pretty easy to discern what kind of energy they are seeking if they say they're looking for someone like ______. Just think of the first words that you'd use to describe this person's energy or outward personality (if they haven't given you more specifics besides their name, which they usually will).
Where do I get auditions?
Oye. That's a long answer. There are tons of ways to find auditions. But truthfully, auditions are great and booking the job off of an audition (especially when it's a big casting call and 800-1000 people are submitting takes) can feel like winning the f-ing lottery! Ultimately though, the goal should be to book regular and consistent work through direct client relationships, so that you don't have to spend as much time playing that lottery. Unless you want to!
Some ways to find/get auditions:
- Online Casting Sites (Some are free and some are P2P, aka pay to play)
- Freelancer Sites
- Casting Directors
- In-House Rosters at Production Companies (or anyone that casts and produces projects in-house)
- Social Media (Posts & groups)
- Word of Mouth (Your friends and friends of friends who know you do VO)
- Others that I can't think of right now
What online casting sites do you recommend?
Well, all I can do is relay my own personal experience. I can't really say what would be right for someone else because everyone is different. So, you know, trust your intuition! What works for one person might not work for another, of course. And while online casting sites and pay to plays exist, it doesn't mean you HAVE to use them. They're just another avenue.
That being said, here's a partial list:
Should I try to sign with an agent?
Do you want to work with an agent? Then, yes. Do you need to? No. I was full time in voiceover (making a very good income) for SEVERAL years before signing with my first agent. Now, I'm repped by a few different agencies around the country and I'm extremely grateful for them! I've definitely had more opportunities because of my agency relationships and they have made the auditioning, booking, and payment process soooo much easier. But there are lots of ways to get voiceover work without having an agent. I would say 30% of my income comes from work booked through agencies and the rest is through my own client relationships and marketing efforts. So yes to working with agents but... when you're ready. Not when you're first starting out, unless you specifically work with an agent who takes on brand new voice talents.
What else can you recommend?
Here's a list of some resources and opinions I've shared with former and current students/coaching clients:
BOOKS (Some VO, some not)
And that's all I've got for now. Email with any additional questions, I'm happy to help!
How I Got Started In Voice Acting
Tips & Techniques For Commercial Voice Actors
More Acting Tips For VO
Four Things To Remember When Beginning Your Voiceover Career
You Are What You Practice
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Leaving Los Angeles
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