So you want to be a voice actor?

 

Below you will find information about:

• How to get started, step-by-step!

• Home Recording Studio Set-up info

• Voice-Over Demo Reels

• Helpful Tips and Industry Facts

• Voice Acting Classes

• Demo Reel Producers

• Voice Acting Audition Sites

• Agency Representation

 

The truth is, you could easily search "how do I become a voice actor?" and find LOTS of resources online, but there are also a lot of scams out there, some of them rather convincing. I want to help you avoid those scams, so I created an easily accessible page with professional resources and an easy to read step-by-step guide to getting started.

"How do I become a voice actor?"

 

Voice acting is ACTING. You have to be an actor if you want to pursue this field.

If you are new to voice acting or have never had any acting training, click HERE for a list of various voice-over classes, workshops, and private coaching sessions taught by industry professionals. There are many great resources here for beginners to learn the basics of voice-over.

I always ask aspiring voice actors: 

"WHY do you want to be a voice actor?"

These are the answers I hear most frequently:

1. "I'm good at impressions"

2. "I have loads of voices"

3. "People say I have a good voice and that I should get into voice acting"

4. "It seems easy enough"

5. "I just want to make it a hobby for extra money"

If any number of those responses sound like you,

please read with the corresponding number below: 

(If not, please move on to the next section)

1. Don't focus on impressions. Voice matching/impressions go far beyond "copying" some well known catchphrases. It's great if you can manipulate your voice to sound like an iconic character or celebrity, but you have to be able to SUSTAIN the voice, continue to sound accurate, all while taking direction and delivering a believable performance. It is also important to mention that you are competing with professionals, and in some cases, the actual actors of the voices you are trying to mimic. Voice acting is MORE than being able to do impressions. More often than not, the director wants to hear YOUR voice. Not an impression. It’s great if you have the skills to do impressions, but if you don't know how to act, it won't do you any good. You won’t make it very far in this industry if you don’t have the acting chops to back it up.

2. Having "loads of voices" is not enough of a reason for you to pursue voice acting as a career. You have to be an actor. It's not enough to have hundreds of voices available at the drop of a hat. You need to be able to PERFORM those voices on a professional level.

3. I ALWAYS hear: "My friends and family say I have a good voice." And "Everyone keeps saying I should get into voice acting." — These are non-pros telling you this, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. This doesn't always mean that their encouragement is misplaced, but this industry is MORE than just having a cool sounding voice. You need to seek out more reliable confirmation of your talent and capabilities, whether it's from a casting director, voice director, or professional voice actor.
I get dozens of emails from people saying that someone told them they should get into voice acting because they have a good voice (as if it’s that easy). Just because your family and friends say you have a good voice for voice-over DOES NOT mean it’s true. Sorry to burst your bubble. This is show business. You have to be an actor, you have to have acting experience, you have to be able to take ADR direction, and you have to have great creative instincts. It's not enough to "have a good voice." You have to be an actor that knows how to perform and take direction well.

4. Show business is NOT easy. Never underestimate any form of acting, including voice-over. Don't allow yourself to be egotistical. An ego is tacky and definitely not a good look for someone who's new to the industry.

5. This is not a quick or cheap journey. Casual pursuit of a voice acting career will rarely yield meaningful results. It's all or nothing, go big or go home. You can't afford to "half-ass" your way through this industry. If you're wanting to get into this field for a little extra money, you might end up being disappointed when you find out just how expensive it is to get started... Many people don't know this, but pursuing voice over can get extremely expensive!!! Acting classes and workshops can cost HUNDREDS of dollars, professional recording equipment is definitely not cheap, and the cost of demo reels can range from $500 to $3,000 each! So be prepared to spend a lot of money! And be prepared to audition on a regular basis and not booking every gig. Voice-over is a huge investment.

The First 3 Steps to Becoming a Voice Actor

1. Check your motivation

Do it for the love of acting. Enjoyment is the best reason to start acting and the reason to keep doing it. Do not pursue this career with the wrong motivation, like fame or money. These things should not be the driving force that moves you to take this path. If you pursue this career with the wrong intentions, I guarantee you it will be a miserable journey. Make sure you truly have a love for acting before you start pursuing this as a career.

2. Acting Training

 Take acting classes and acting workshops. I have a whole list of classes I recommend. You don't need to go to an expensive 4-year drama school or get a theater degree to succeed in this industry. It will be more beneficial for you to learn from professional voice actors and directors who are currently working in the professional industry and finding success in their career.
Participate in on-stage productions and
improv groups. Get involved with your school's theatre department or local theatre... Build your acting resume and grow in the art... I also recommend improv training. It trains you to think on your feet, invent material on the fly, recover from mistakes in the moment, enhance your comedic abilities, and nurture your imagination.
Another great way to learn is to observe experienced actors on-the-job. Learn from people who know what they're doing and are successful at what they do.
There are also a lot of accomplished voice actors who teach constructive voice-over classes! BUT PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHAT CLASSES YOU TAKE... THERE ARE A LOT OF VO SCAMS OUT THERE... Here's a list of some trustworthy VO coaches / teachers / instructors that I recommend:

www.themorganberry.com/classes-workshops
When you've had a good amount of training, it's time for a demo reel! A demo reel is like your audio resume. It shows off your vocal range, acting abilities, and character archetypes (depending on the type of VO demo).
WARNINGS:
"Package deal" types of courses are most often scams. If a VO class/workshop comes with a free demo at the end of the course, that is a major red flag. Don't waste your money on a class that offers a demo by the end of their course. Everyone's journey is different, and nobody is all going to be ready at the same pace. You won't be ready for a demo after just a few sessions.
If a VO course promises you a "lucrative" career, it is a scam. This is not a get-rich-quick business. Don't fall for the false promises.

Just because a self-proclaimed "VO teacher" has been in a few anime titles, DOES NOT mean they are qualified to teach... Always do your research and ask long-time industry professionals before committing to a VO teacher. It could be detrimental to your career if you are being taught wrong or out-dated information, so be careful who you are learning from. Always consider their years of professional experience in the industry, how often they work each year, the number of major companies they do work for, whether they cast or direct for well-known companies, etc... You can find a lot of this information on IMDb.com, but always ask professionals before making a decision. You are free to ask me any questions on potential classes by messaging me HERE

3. Recording equipment

Many companies will require you to send auditions from somewhere other than their studio, so having a good home studio is crucial. Here are some helpful website links to get you started: 
Website 1
Website 2

 

-- To sum it all up, here is what you need:

  • Microphone (a condenser is a good choice, and possibly dynamic. USB mics are not ideal)

  • Preamplifier or Interface (for those not using a USB mic)

  • Mic stand

  • Mic XLR cable

  • Pop filter (metal is usually preferred)

  • Shock Mount

  • Acoustic foam for the walls

  • Audio editing software (Audacity, Adobe Audition, Logic, Pro Tools, etc...) (GarageBand is not ideal for VO because it does not have the ability to export any audio above 44,100Hz)

DEMO REELS

1. Having a demo will only serve you well if you are ready as an actor. First impressions matter, so a bad demo can make a lasting bad impression and end up setting you back professionally. Never make a demo reel until you're ready. If you are not a strong actor, DO NOT make a demo yet. If you send out a bad demo, you could ruin your chances of ever working in the voice-over industry. Please do yourself a favor and WAIT until you are ready. If you are being coached by an industry professional, they will tell you when you are ready. If you are VERY new to this industry, it's okay to piece together examples of your work so that you can market yourself to indie clients, but DO NOT label it as your demo reel, and DO NOT send it out to any major companies or major directors/casting departments. It is better to have NO demo than to have a BAD demo. First impressions matter.

2. A demo reel should only be a minute long. If your demo exceeds 1 minute in length, there is the possibility of it being thrown out and not considered. It is possible to go 15 seconds over, but I recommend that you not risk it.

3. Before you get started, you should know that there are many different types of demo reels. Animation demo, commercial demo, promo demo, interactive (video game) demo, etc... (Never mix different demo types together. They need to be kept separate)

4. Start the demo with your natural voice, and THEN show off your vocal range throughout the reel. Directors will typically only listen to the first 15 seconds of the demo, so make sure it starts strong!!

5. For animation demo reels, don't add any voice impressions. Directors want to hear YOU and your acting ability above all else. They don't want to hear your impression of popular characters or celebrities. They already have someone for that job. Show the directors what makes you unique!

6. It is STRONGLY advised that your demo be professionally done!! DO NOT do it yourself if you are not a professional audio engineer and don't settle for just any cheap studio. Many professional directors end up tossing the demo if they can tell it is not professionally made. In the words of Tony Oliver "If they can't invest the money to make a professional demo reel, I toss the demo and do not even consider it." Director's can tell when a demo is not made by a professional. They can't take you seriously if you don't take YOURSELF seriously. You can't afford to "half-ass" it. You need a great quality demo or it could very well end up being your downfall. Please do not make the mistake of sending out a poorly produced demo reel. You don't want to risk getting blacklisted from studios... In addition to this, make sure that your demo producer knows how to make voice-over demos. They may be a professional engineer, but that doesn't mean they know how to make voice-over demos. Ask them what their experience is with making voice acting demos. Ask them for their voice actor client list. Listen to their demos and check out their work beforehand to make sure they know what they're doing!

7. Scripts are very important, so I recommend asking if the demo producer you have chosen has a team that can write the material for you, or hire a professional demo script writer. Your demo needs to be unique! Each character voice or commercial within your reel should have their own lines, music, and sound effects (if necessary).

8. Having music in your reel is a great way to separate one voice from another, but it's completely optional and not always necessary.

9. If you are seeking representation with a talent agency, then having a commercial demo is ideal.

10. Trends within the voice-over industry are constantly changing. Slates use to be required, but now they're a dead trend. If you want a professional demo reel, make sure you get yours produced by someone who knows the current industry. Do your own research before choosing a demo producer (don't just take the producer's word for it). They may call themself a "legend", but are they really?? Make sure you ask other working professionals before making a decision. You don't want to risk having an outdated demo. And keep in mind, one producer does not fit all. One person may excel in producing animation demos, but lacks when it comes to commercial demos. They may not know the commercial market enough to make a commercial demo in addition to animation demos. Not every producer is a "one-stop-shop", so be careful who you're spending your money on.

11. DO NOT ADD VOICE CHANGING EFFECTS. DO NOT ARTIFICIALLY ALTER THE PITCH OF YOUR VOICE... (Example: Robot effects, Monster vocal effects, warping, radio effect, etc...)

12. Only feature voices that you can sustain and easily replicate. DO NOT PERFORM ACCENTS / DIALECTS IN YOUR DEMO THAT YOU CANNOT ACCURATELY SUSTAIN OR PERFORM PROFICIENTLY. It is better to train with a professional dialect coach and get to the point where you can perform the dialect well enough to rival someone with that natural dialect.

13. If a VO class you are taking comes with a free demo at the end of the course, that is a major red flag. Those types of classes / workshops are typically scams. Don't waste your money on a class that offers a demo by the end of their course. Everyone's journey is different, and nobody is all going to be ready at the same pace. You won't be ready for a demo after just a few classes.

14.
 Avoid redundancy. Each segment should contrast significantly with the one before and after. There must be an abrupt tone shift with every segment. For character demos, we need to hear variety in vocal abilities, character archetypes, emotions, and intensity. Your character voices should vary in age, energy, and attitude. Show us your versatility.

[a list of demo producers can be found at the bottom of this page under "RESOURCES"]

Helpful Tips & FAQ's

 

1. Take risks:

I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for me taking a risk and entering a voice acting competition (despite the many fears that were threatening to hold me back). There have also been many roles that I have auditioned for and have BOOKED despite initially thinking that I shouldn't even try. You have to take risks in order to move forward.

2. Be prepared:

As a voice actor, you are an independent contractor. This is not a steady career and work is never guaranteed. When you go weeks without booking voice-work, you need to be prepared financially! So don't quit your day-job! Many voice actors in the industry have regular every-day jobs outside of their voice acting careers. One of the reasons is because sometimes voice acting gigs don’t pay well. Another reason is because it’s impossible to book every gig you audition for, so sometimes you’ll go weeks without getting any voice-work. You need to have a way to pay the bills when you’re not booking. Voice-work is never consistent, so It’s a good idea to have a job that guarantees you a paycheck each month.

3. Listen and take direction well:

Do your research on the characters that you are voicing for, but do not become attached to their characteristics. Things change and you have to learn to adapt to whichever direction the client or director wants to take the character. Never go into a project with a set idea of what YOU think the character should be like. Be open to change and listen very closely to what the client or director wants from you.

4. Understand the truth about rejection:

Rejection is a common occurrence in show business. It is completely normal and you have to get used to it. Actors are constantly auditioning for projects, and it is highly unlikely that they will book every single gig they audition for. Never take it personally. Don't be intimidated by the endless rejections on the path to becoming an actor. It comes with the territory! Missteps and stumbles are universal to all performers. You are not alone in this struggle. Keep going and don't give up!

5. Be okay with looking silly:

Push out of your comfort zone. As an actor, it is your job to "professionally play pretend". When kids are playing pretend, all they really focus on is having fun. They're not worried about what others will think of them as they are playing. Don't worry about being judged. Sometimes you'll have to make silly faces in order to manipulate your vocals. Never focus on how silly it looks. Just do it and have fun acting!

6. Marketing:

Marketing yourself online is very important in show business. The biggest marketing platform being social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc...) Some studios even cast actors based on the amount of followers they have. (it sucks. we hate it. but it's a part of the business and we have to come to terms with it). Having a website and professional headshots will also benefit you when it comes to marketing yourself.

7. Location matters:

Face-to-face interaction is more important than people realize. Without it, an out-of-town newbie is at a disadvantage over established VO talent and residing new-comers who casting and voice directors have connected or worked with in-person. There are many personal connections to make in order to gain admission to the pool of talented players in the game who are most often called upon. As an actor, you have to live where the work is. You can't live in the middle of nowhere and expect to make it big in the industry. You have to be where the work is and you have to be readily available at the drop of a hat. Studios might need you to come in tomorrow and you have to be ready to accommodate their hectic schedules. However, don't consider moving until you are ready as an actor. Acting training and on-stage experience can go a long way. With that said, I highly suggest starting in a smaller market first, Dallas, Texas being a great option. Many major anime companies are located in Texas, including Crunchyroll (formally known as Funimation), Sentai Filmworks, Kocha Sound, and OkraTron 5000 Studio. If you want to pursue anime dubbing, then Texas is a great place to start.
Even with remote recording being essential in today's market, location still matters. Those unwilling or unable to make the move will need to work extra hard, need incredible acting chops, an amazing demo, and the ability to market and self-promote without being tacky. There's something to be said of the commitment you broadcast by moving to where the majority of the work lives. You show you are serious, dedicated, committed and confident in your abilities. However, your voice acting skills need to be on-par or BETTER than the pool of talent already established and working in the industry. In addition to this, your voice-over demos must be competitive in comparison to the talent on agency rosters in order for you to garner any interest. If you don't believe you are good enough yet, take your time and focus on training before making the move.

8. Microphone technique: 

(Distance from the mic) Make a jazz hand by extending all of your fingers. Put your thumb on your lip and connect your pinky finger to the microphone. That's how far away you should be from the microphone.

9. Vocal Healthcare:

For a list of vocal care tips and vocal health resources, click HERE.

10. Voice Acting Tips:

  • It's okay to move around in the studio, but be aware of your surroundings and be careful not to hit the equipment. Make sure you are not making bodily sounds with your movements. When you are running in place for a running scene, keep your feet planted on the ground so as not to make any sound with your feet.

  • Don't wear noisy clothes or jewelry when voice acting.

  • Having improv training will help you think on your feet whenever you are acting, so try your hand at some improvisation workshops.

 

11. "What is a slate?"

A slate is an introduction. Commonly done at the beginning of auditions. It is simply saying your full name and the name of the character you are auditioning for at the time.

12. "What is 'walla' or 'looping' ???"

"WALLA" stands for "With ALL Actors" ~ Despite the implied phrase "all actors", a session of this type does not include all the actors of the cast. A walla session (or "looping" session) is when 3 or more actors get in the sound booth together and record vocals for crowd scenes and background characters. (Example: students in a noisy school environment, an audience at a concert, etc...)

13. Voice-Over Rate Guide:

 

Large-scale project VO rates
Click HERE
 

Small-scale / indie VO rates
Click HERE

RESOURCES

• Voice Acting Classes

• Demo Reel Producers

• Voice Acting Audition Sites

• Agency Representation

_____________________________

Voice Acting Classes:

(Choose a class with a teacher who specializes in the specific genre of voice-over that you want to pursue)

 

Click a link below:

Character Based VO Classes

Anime Dubbing / ADR

Animation VO

Video Game VO

Career Mentoring

✓ beginner & intermediate levels

✓ private coaching

Location: Online

⇨ Voice Trax West Studio

Commercial VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA and Online

Richard Horvitz

• Animation VO

✓ group classes
✓ private coaching

✓ teaches all ages

Location: LA and Online

Debi Derryberry

• Animation VO

✓ private coaching

✓ teaches all ages

Location: LA and Online

⇨ Paul St. Peter
Accent & Dialect Coaching
Location:
LA and Online

⇨ JB Blanc

Accent & Dialect Coaching
Location:
LA and Online

⇨ Charlie Adler

• Animation VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA and Online

⇨ Mick Wingert

• Animation VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA

⇨ "That's So VO"

• Multiple areas of VO

✓ taught by various professionals

✓ group classes

Location: Online

⇨ Philip Bache

• Video Game VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA

⇨ Erin Fitzgerald

Animation VO

Video Game VO

✓ private coaching

Location: LA and Online

⇨ Dave Fennoy

• Video Game VO

✓ group classes

✓ private coaching

Location: LA and Online

⇨ Crispin Freeman

Animation VO

Video Game VO

✓ group classes

✓ private coaching

Location: LA and Online

⇨ Donna Grillo

Animation VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA

⇨ Sara Jane Sherman

Animation VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA

⇨ "The VO Pros"

Multiple areas of VO

✓ taught by various professionals

✓ group classes

Location: LA

⇨ Class Act Dallas

on-stage and on-camera

✓ group classes

Location: Dallas, TX

!!!  PLEASE READ BELOW  !!!

It is EXTREMELY important for you to do your research before committing to a VO teacher/coach. Make sure they have at least 10 years of professional experience in the VO industry. Check to see what genre of VO they work the most. Go to IMDb.com and find out: How many VO credits do they have? How often do they book each year? When was the last time they worked? -- Every detail matters. Because if THEY can't book, what makes you think that they're going to help YOU book??? Don't waste your money learning from amateurs. Always learn from professionals who work regularly in the field and know how the professional VO industry actually works.

If you see that a teacher you know of isn't on this list, it could be that I do not know of their services, I forgot to add them to this list, or there's a very good reason I have not added them... Please be careful when searching for a teacher!!! Even if they have some seemingly decent looking voice acting credits, that does not mean that they are qualified to teach!! It could be detrimental to your career if you are being taught wrong or out-dated information!! Please feel free to contact me and ask for advice before you commit to a class or workshop.

 

_____________________________

 

Demo Reel Producers:

Mick Wingert

animation demos

Location: LA

Voice Trax West

video game & commercial demos

Location: LA

Chuck Duran

promo & narration

Location: LA

Dallas Audio Post

commercial demos

Location: Dallas, TX

!!!  PLEASE READ  !!!

If you see that a studio / demo producer you know of isn't on this list, it could be that I do not know of their services, I forgot to add them to this list, or there's a very good reason I have not added them... Either way, please feel free to contact me and ask for advice before you commit to a demo producer.

_____________________________

Voice Acting Audition Sites:

> Casting Call Club

> Voice123

> Backstage

> Twitter

!!!  PLEASE READ  !!!

You may hear people recommend Voices.com... DON'T DO IT... Click HERE to find out why...

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Agency Representation:​

 

> How to get an acting agent

 

> List of Talent Agencies

 

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Other helpful sources: