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Doing Voiceovers

July 29, 2015

The Other Actor Inside You - by Joan Baker
Published in: LVLten Magazine Issue 3 * March/April 2015

There are great job opportunities for teens in the voiceover industry and it’s easier today than ever before to get the training and tools you need. With training, a professional demo reel, a talent agent and steady practice, a teenager can start auditioning and be on his or her way to earning an income in voice acting. Obviously, if you’re a teenager, a parent will have to join you as a business partner. Legally, parents must sign contracts. Also, a parent is required to invest smartly in the training and equipment that will be needed to pursue a career.

In the cases where the parent too may have a knack for voice acting, much more is possible.  Both parent and teen can pursue careers simultaneously, sharing the studio and maximizing the investment. A big plus for parents is that they will often benefit from a savvy teen’s natural affinity for navigating the computer software related to setting up a home studio.

So how do you get started? This is easily the most popular question in the voiceover business and it’s the reason I wrote the book, Secrets of Voiceover Success. What makes this book special is that it gives you the perspective of 21 different successful voice actors. People enter the field of voice acting from many different backgrounds and it’s vital for the newcomer to get a sense of how his or her background can be molded into a successful approach. 

The key is learning to interpret the different script styles or genres. These styles are often referred to as - real person, announcer, spokesperson, characters, banter, etc. They all require different interpretive skills and they are often written as comedic or dramatic. In addition to knowing the genres, voiceover training includes basic acting. If you’re already studying acting, it will be helpful to your training in voice acting. Voice acting emphasizes a specialized timing having to do with commercials, learning microphone technique and working within a recording studio. Unlike traditional acting, you don’t have other actors or props with which to interact. You do it all with your imagination!

There are good teachers out there who work with you one-on-one, in person or via Skype. Working in person is the best scenario but it’s not always possible if you live outside the major cities. There are several key questions you can consider when selecting a voiceover teacher:
  1. Is there ample info about the teacher through a basic Google search?
  2. Does the teacher have references from working union actors whom they’ve trained?
  3. Is the teacher a working, union voice actor, signed with a major talent agent?
  4. If the teacher is not a voice actor, are they a reputable casting director, producer or director? 
If the teacher has 3 out of the four, it’s probably a good starting point. Keep in mind, you will probably work with more than one teacher over the course of your career and that’s a normal and advantageous scenario. However, you won’t truly know if you’ve found a good match until you dive in.

Once you’ve mastered a professional level of craft and technique, your teacher will guide you through the process of creating a demo reel. The demo reel is a critical tool if you're ever to gain the attention of talent agents, casting directors and buyers. Unfortunately, there are scammers who promote quick training and quick turn-around demo reels on the cheap. Make sure the demo producer can give you references from working, union voice actors who are singed with a top talent agent.  Even though you may not yet be in the union, this is where you want to set your sights.

Creating the demo reel will be a major turning point in your career journey as a voice actor. You should now be ready to move forward, in earnest, with meeting agents, casting director, etc. Some teachers are quite good at helping you to navigate these new waters and it’s worth it to keep them engaged – strategizing your career planning while continuing to hone your performance craft. As a teenager, you’re in a great position to start early and grow your voiceover career. Young voices of all types are in high demand. Why not yours?

LVLten is a bi-monthly publication available in both print and digital versions, geared towards young performers and their parents.

LVLten is packed full of great celebrity features which include full page fashion editorials , Exclusive LVLten interviews with top teen celebrities where they talk freely about their craft, giving insight into their careers and things they have learned along the way. PLUS Industry-Pro interviews, Q&As and articles with today's top agents, casting directors and more where they discuss everything from dos and don'ts when submitting, how to keep a great agent/client relationship, what to do when you get into the audition room, and much, much more! From acting teachers and other industry veterans, you'll learn the  secrets of the trade from the very best.