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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 have never had any acting training or voice-over specific training, click HERE for a list of various voice-over classes, workshops, and private coaching services taught by industry professionals. There are also many resources on this page 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 / 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, you can 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 sometimes that includes 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 and be able to take direction well, adjusting your performance however the director needs.

3. Something I hear most often from people is "My friends and family say I have a good voice" and "Everyone keeps saying I should get into voice acting" — Most of the time 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. You have to remember that this is show business, and the job requires more than a nice voice. Being able to perform proficiently, take direction well in a fast paced environment, and have good creative instincts; all great qualities that could potentially be developed with a good amount of training with the right people.

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, considering the investment that's involved. 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. Pursuing voice over can get extremely expensive. Acting classes and workshops can cost HUNDREDS of dollars, recording equipment can be pricey depending on the quality, and the cost of decent demo reels can range from $1,000 to $3,000 each! So be prepared to spend a lot of money from the start, and be prepared to audition on a regular basis and not booking every one. Voice-over is an investment, so make the decision wisely.

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 to continue doing so. Do not pursue this career with the wrong motivation like fame or money. 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). In addition to performance training, the educational aspect is equally as crucial to know. Learning how this industry operates, the do's and don'ts of this business, and discovering the necessary terminology of this field will be incredibly rewarding when taught by the right people. 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 own careers.
Participate in on-stage productions
. 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

And here is a link to a list of red-flags to be wary of when you're searching for a VO coach:
www.themorganberry.com/red-flags

3. Recording equipment

Many companies will require you to send auditions from somewhere other than their studio, so having a good home studio can be crucial, especially when you're expected to record a job remotely. Here is a helpful website to give more insight on the matter:
www.themorganberry.com/home-studio-info

DEMO REELS

A demo reel is an audio showcase of your acting and vocal abilities, usually made from scratch/original material. There are many different types of demo reels and the rules of production for them can vary for each genre (animation, commercial, promo, interactive, etc...)
 

Here is a link with a list of red flags to be wary of regarding demo producers:
www.navavoices.org/vo-scams-red-flags/

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

1. Be ready: 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.
If you're interested in voice-over training, here are some resources to check out: 

www.themorganberry.com/classes-workshops

2. Demo Length: (this will change quite periodically and I will update accordingly whenever the trends change) Nowadays the industry standard length for a demo reel is at least 1 minute in length, at most 1 minute and 30 seconds.

3. Separate: Never mix different demo types together. They need to be kept separate. (Animation, commercial, promo, etc...)

4. Start Right: At one point in time it was recommended that your natural voice be the first voice in your demo. Nowadays it is preferred that the SECOND voice in your demo be your natural speaking voice. This is from what I have gathered as of 2024. (Trends are constantly changing in this industry and I will do my best to keep this page up to date)

5. No Impressions: Don't add any voice impressions in a character demo. While it can be a beneficial skill to imitate popular character voices and celebrities, directors want to hear YOU. Your demo reel needs to showcase the various character archetypes you can portray well, your vocal age range, emotional range, and your acting abilities above all else. Show the directors what makes you unique! If you want to pursue impressions, you can create a separate impression reel for that endeavor.

6. No Slate: From what I've been told, slates are not necessary in demo reels like they use to be. This could of course depend on the genre of VO that your demo showcases. My main experience is character-based, so this tip in particular could possible be different for other areas of VO (commercial, promo, narration, etc...) Always get a second or third opinion with another professional before making your decision.

7. Accents: Do not perform accents or dialects in your demo if you can not accurately sustain and perform them proficiently. Get trained by a professional before claiming to perform those accents on a professional level.

8. 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 off your versatility.

9. Writing: You need original dialogue, so I recommend asking if the demo producer of your choice has a team that can write the material for you, or if you need to hire a writer. Make sure that you plan what character archetypes and emotions you want to portray in your demo so that your script writer can write accordingly.

10. Music & SFX: If you're getting your demo produced professionally, this service is usually included. Having music in your reel is a great way to separate one voice from another, but it's completely optional and not always necessary. Sound effects are also optional, but they can add great nuance to your various takes within the demo.

11. Voice Effects: It is recommended that you do not add effects to your vocals in your demo. Directors need to hear your voice for what it is. Do not add vocal changing effects and do not artificially alter the pitch of your voice. (Example: robot vocal effect, monster vocal effect, radio filter, etc...)

12. Vocal Endurance: Only feature voices that you can sustain without hurting yourself. If you can't perform a voice without it hurting, do not add that voice to your demo.

13. Agents: If you are seeking representation with a talent agency, then having a commercial demo can help. Your agent makes money when YOU make money, and they need to know that you can book various types of voice-over, especially the gigs that offer the highest compensation rates.

14. Production: It is strongly advised that your demo be professionally produced if you plan on submitting it to major studios, casting departments, or talent agencies. Many professional directors will disregard a demo if they can tell it is not professionally produced. In the words of Tony Oliver "If they can't invest in themselves, why should I invest in THEM?" ~ When submitting to notable companies, you need a great quality demo or it could end up setting you back on your voice-over journey. In addition to this, make sure that the demo producer you have chosen actually knows how to make voice-over demos in the specific genre that you want to pursue. Don't settle for just any cheap studio or random person on social media. Ask them what their experience is with making voice acting demos and if they have any notable voice actor clients. Listen to their demos and check out their work before making this financial commitment. Make sure you get your demo produced by someone who knows the current industry. Do your own research thoroughly. 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. In addition to this, if a VO class you are taking comes with a free demo at the end of the course, that can be a possible red-flag. You won't be ready for a demo after just a few classes.

Here is a link with a list of red flags to be wary of regarding demo producers:
www.navavoices.org/vo-scams-red-flags/

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

Helpful Tips & FAQ's

 

1. Take risks (within reason)

I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for me taking a few risks. When I competed in a voice acting competition, I almost backed out because I was so nervous and worried that I would embarrass myself. I set that fear aside, competed, and won. That win earned me an audition at Funimation. Thankfully I was ready for this opportunity. I had years of experience as an on-stage actor, so I was prepared for this risk. Another example of a risk involves me auditioning for roles that I didn't feel I could do as well as someone else. I decided to push through my self-doubt and auditioned anyway. I have booked many roles this way, to my surprise. A risk many people debate on is the choice to move to another state to pursue a specific genre of voice-over. I recommend training first before uprooting your entire life. Test the waters first before jumping in.

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 it's recommended that you don't quit your day-job! One of the reasons being sometimes voice acting gigs don’t pay well. And even when you DO book, it's not going to be every gig that you audition for. Voice-work is not always consistent, no matter how talented you may be. Through it all, 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. 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. 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 let the rejections discourage you. You are not alone in this struggle.

5. Be okay with looking silly:

Push out of your comfort zone. As an actor, it is your job to "professionally play pretend." Sometimes you'll have to make silly faces in order to manipulate your vocals. Don't worry about being judged through your methods. Focus on the fun!

6. Marketing:

Marketing yourself online is very important in show business. The biggest marketing platform being social media platforms like 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 can also benefit you when it comes to marketing yourself online.

7. Location matters:

When pursuing character-based voice acting opportunities with major companies, it helps greatly to live where the work is. In many cases you have to 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. I personally started my career in Dallas, Texas and built my resume with anime dubbing work before moving to Los Angeles. 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.
The pandemic opened a lot of doors for talent living outside of the major VO hubs, but things have gone back to normal since then. We're all hoping that remote recording can eventually become the norm so that opportunities can be more accessible, but until then, this is where things stand specifically in the professional character voice-over industry. Before you consider a move, 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. 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

Here is a list of red-flags to be wary of when searching for a voice acting teacher:
www.themorganberry.com/red-flags

_____________________________

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

Charlie Adler

• Animation VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA and Online

Mick Wingert

• Animation VO

✓ group classes

Location: LA

⇨ Victoria Atkin

Performance Capture
Motion Capture
Facial Capture
Video Games

✓ group classes

Location: LA and Online
 

⇨ Matthew Floyd Miller

• Accents & Dialects
 

⇨ Eliza Simpson

• Accents & Dialects
 

⇨ Aria Accents

• Accents & Dialects
 

⇨ Chris Ciulla

• Audiobooks
 

⇨ "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

 

_____________________________

 

Demo Reel Producers:

Mick Wingert

animation demos

Location: LA

Voice Trax West

video game & commercial demos

Location: LA

Randy Greer

Character demo writing services

(ask for samples of their work)

Location: Remote

Reece Bridger

Character demo writing services

(ask for samples of their work)

Location: Remote

Michael J Blakey

Comercial demo writing services

(ask for samples of their work)

Location: Remote

Chuck Duran

promo & narration

Location: LA

Dallas Audio Post

commercial demos

Location: Dallas, TX

_____________________________

Voice Acting Audition Sites:

> Casting Call Club

> Voice123

> Backstage

> Twitter

!!!  PLEASE READ  !!!

You might hear people recommend Voices.com, but please be wary of this site. Click HERE to find out why.

_____________________________

Agency Representation:​

 

> How to get an acting agent

 

> List of Talent Agencies

 

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Other helpful sources:

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