So you want to be a voice actor?
I'm not going to pretend like I have all the answers, but I DO have many years of professional experience within the voice acting industry and I have a lot of resources that I would like to share with others.
"How do I become a voice actor?"
Voice acting is ACTING. You have to be an actor if you want to pursue this field.
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. "my friends and family say I have a good voice"
4. "It seems easy enough"
5. "I want to be in anime"
6. "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. It's great if you can manipulate your voice to sound like a well known character or celebrity, but there are a lot of other actors who are already established in the industry and are doing impressions on a regular basis. There's nothing wrong with mimicking them, but keep in mind that you are competing with professionals, and in some cases, the actual actors of the voices you are trying to mimic. Also, 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.
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. "My friends and family say I have a good voice." "Everyone keeps saying I should get into voice acting." Yeah. You and everyone else in the world. No joke. I get this A LOT. 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, DOES NOT mean that you are ready to pursue voice acting. That is not a good enough reason to get started in this industry. You have to be an actor. You have to have a love for acting. You have to have acting experience. It's not enough to "have a good voice." You HAVE to be an ACTOR.
4. Show business is NOT easy!! Never underestimate any form of acting, including voice-over!!
5. If your only motivation for being a voice actor is because you like anime, video games, or YouTube web series, then you have NO idea what you're getting yourself into... There is SO much more to voice acting than that!! Commercial, Industrial, Narration, Audiobooks, Radio, Documentaries, etc... (also, keep in mind that the anime industry doesn't pay well. You will NOT be able to sustain yourself with just anime work)
6. It is extremely difficult to be a successful voice actor if you only plan on it being a hobby. It's all or nothing. You can't afford to "half-ass" your way through the 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.
The First 3 Steps to Becoming a Voice Actor
1. Check your motivation
Do it for the love of acting. 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. Get involved with your school's theatre department or local theatre. Build your acting resume and grow in the art.
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.
Microphone (a condenser is a good choice. USB mics are okay to use on a budget, but not ideal)
Preamplifier (if you're not using a USB mic)
Pop filter (preferably a metal one)
Shock Mount (if available)
Foam for the walls
Audio editing software (Audacity, GarageBand, Adobe Audition, ProTools)
1. Never make a demo reel until you're ready!!! If you are not a strong actor, DO NOT make a demo yet!! A demo reel is an actor's calling card!! If you send out a bad demo, you could ruin your chances of ever working in the voice-over industry!!
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.
3. 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!!
4. NEVER add impressions to your demo reel!!! 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!
5. Your demo HAS to be professionally done!! DO NOT do it yourself if you are not a professional in the industry and DO NOT just go to any cheap studio. You can't afford to have a "half-ass" demo reel. It will end up being your downfall.
6. Scripts are very important and I strongly suggest you write your own lines. 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).
7. Having music in your reel is a great way to separate one voice from another, but it's completely optional and not always necessary.
8. In order to get with an acting agency, you will need a commercial demo reel above all else.
9. TRENDS: As you know, trends within the industry are consistently changing. And as of 2019, slates in the beginning of demos are considered to be out of style, according to Mary Lynn Wissner.
Helpful Acting Tips
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. 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.
3. Understand the truth about failure:
As an actor, you have to get used to failing. Failure 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. It's okay to fail. As long as you keep moving forward despite those failures. Failing DOES NOT mean that you are a failure. We ALL fail. It's not a bad thing, so never take it personally.
4. 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!
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.
6. Location matters!!:
I would highly suggest moving to Dallas, Texas if you are a new actor looking to get more work. Dallas is full of acting opportunities and it's a great place to start before taking on the big boss (Los Angeles). 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.
7. 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 mic.
8. Vocal Tips:
Stay hydrated: Drink lots of water to eliminate clicking noises in your mouth while recording.
Eating green apples is also a good solution to getting rid of mouth clicks.
Vocal warm ups: tongue twisters are a great way to warm yourself up before a session.
9. 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.
10. "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.
11. "What is 'walla' ???"
"WALLA" stands for "With ALL Actors" ~ A walla 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...)
I have done A LOT of hard work to bring all of this information to you guys! So If any of the info or resource links that I have provided have helped you in any way, PLEASE let me know!! Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tell me your story! I would love to hear it!
Acting classes and workshops:
(This is also another way to make connections within the industry)
http://www.kdstudio.com - DALLAS (Demi Lovato has taken acting classes here)
http://www.classactdallas.com - DALLAS (Voice actors Alexis Tipton, Brina Palencia and Mike McFarland have both taken classes with this company, some of which continue to take classes here regularly)
http://dallasvoiceover.com - DALLAS (Acting classes taught by Bruce Carey)
http://www.voiceactingmastery.com/classes - LA / ONLINE (Crispin Freeman’s online VA class)
http://blumvoxstudios.com/teachmevoiceover/ - LA / ONLINE (Steve Blum's online VA class)
PLEASE READ: There are MANY other very useful resources I would like to share with you in greater detail, and more important information I would love to explain in depth. Including classes in Los Angeles that I highly recommend above all else. But just as there are GOOD voice coaches, there are also BAD coaches. This industry is FULL of scams and I want to help you AVOID those toxic situations. This is crucial information that is best explained through a Skype call. If you would like to take your career to the next level, please click here to contact my assistant and schedule a call with me (please label the email as "resource information"). This will be considered an interview and will be handled as such. So please click here to find the information necessary (the info is located under the title "Interviews") ~ In this call, I can also provide you with many good studios to submit your demos to. (However, submitting to these studios does not guarantee work. And this information I am providing is not considered an industry referral from me unless I say otherwise.)
Studios to record your demo reel in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area:
https://www.extraterrible.com (very affordable and high quality)
Photography studio for headshots in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area:
(professional headshots are crucial for marketing yourself online)
Acting Agencies in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area:
Other helpful websites to check out: