If you read my last newsletter post on “A step-by-step guide to getting started in voice acting,” link here if you missed it.
Can I voice act with no experience?
As a beginner, you may find yourself asking this question frequently.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, although having acting experience can make the journey more manageable. However, by following these steps, which are explained in more detail, you can get started in voice acting.
Let me carefully expound on this. It’s called voice acting, so it would be incredibly beneficial if you have acting experience; it can only help you stand out amongst the vast competition in the industry. If you don’t have any acting experience, that’s fine too, but I strongly advise taking some acting classes, joining an improv group, or doing some table reads. I did not have extensive acting experience besides local theater at my church for several years. The benefits of my being in a drama ministry were great because I worked with some outstanding people who are now producers, writers, and stage directors for some of the top networks and studios. The timing just worked out, and I was exposed to these individuals’ expertise and knowledge. Participating in a theater group gave me a lot of experience and insight that I still use in my voice-over career today. Bottom line: Whether you have acting experience or not, you MUST be able to interpret the script, even if it is for a voicemail, eLearning project, or commercial.
I will explain 3 of the 10 steps in today’s newsletter and follow suit with the rest in the coming week. Let’s dive in!
LISTEN, LISTEN, & RESEARCH: This is my first recommendation because it will expose you to the industry and help you familiarize yourself with different voice acting roles and the skills needed to be successful, among other essentials. This means watching and listening to commercials across ALL platforms (digital, linear, streaming, OTT, etc.)
What have you been listening to? Pandora, iHeartRadio, Alexa devices, or commercials on streaming TV or OTT devices?
Have you noticed any styles you can recognize?
Answering these questions is essential as you start your journey into voice acting. It’s NOT about having a “nice, deep, sexy, or distinct” voice. It’s mostly about how you USE it, how you interpret your copy, and how well you connect with the copy and take direction from the producer or casting director.
If I had $100 for every person that told me, someone told them, “You have such a nice voice,” I would be worth 1 bitcoin by now.”
Having a lovely or appealing voice is a great start. However, it is only one aspect of voice acting. As someone who has been in voice-acting for nearly 10 years, the key to succeeding in this industry is listening, listening, and listening, which I still do.
Find your niche: This step comes later in the 10-step guide. However, you can connect your listening skills in Tip #1 to the genre of voice acting you want.
You’re probably saying everyone wants to do animation, video games, or commercials. YES!, although these are a few genres of voice acting. There are many other genres of voice acting that you can venture into.
Have you heard about OHM or IVR? OHM stands for “On Hold Message.” This is the voicemail you hear when you are holding for a company. IVR stands for “Interactive Voice Response.” This technology lets people talk to a company over the phone using a keypad. At least, that is what my smart device says it is. One example is when you call your bank or credit card, and while you’re waiting, music or an occasional voice tells you how great the company you’re speaking with is. So, OHM/IVR is a genre in voice acting. Since the rise of AI, it has entered the realms of voice acting and OHM/IVR, but there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of B2Bs, C2Cs, and some NGOs that use humans for voicemail and telephone system prompts. For instance, I just got out of my booth after doing voice prompts for a company in NY.
Depending on the AI technology, there is a lot to be discussed that I can’t even begin to articulate. But you know what they say. Google it if you don’t understand what AI technology is or how it works. AI technology for OHM or IVR can begin with a human voice and be cloned or dubbed.
Finding your niche is a process; as I said in the last newsletter, your niche will find you. What I mean by this is that when you actively start auditioning, you will notice a pattern of projects you book or get hired to do.
If you are unfamiliar with the various genres of voice acting, here are some examples.
Listen to other voice actors for inspiration: This is part of the listening tip above. While listening to other voice actors for inspiration is great, please DO NOT COPY THEM. I understand this may be hard. So do this instead: when you talk to anyone who is voice acting, or your friends, colleagues, and relatives, take note of how they use their voice, say things, and emit emotion while speaking. This awareness is critical when you get into the booth for an audition, especially for the animation and video game genres.
Also, when interpreting a character or role, you have to build that role in your head before you bring it to life with your voice. For instance, if I wanted to audition for a “mom” role, but I am not a mom, here is what I would do: I would think of my mom and how she would say or do things, or I would think of my friends who are mothers and how I see them act or react to things; these thoughts arranged in my head would help me interpret the role. Listening might be hard at first, but with practice, you can listen to other voice actors or people who inspire you without copying them. I also have pictures in my studio booth of people who make my voice sound different, such as my husband, parents, best friends, and little nephew. Thinking of each of those people in my life evokes a feeling that comes out in my voice.
I hope these suggestions have given you more insight and knowledge about getting into voice acting.
I’d be happy to get your thoughts in the comments. Additionally, I would love to hear about any topics you are passionate about and would like me to cover in future discussions.
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How can I help you?
At MyVoiceWorks Management, we specialize in providing excellent, quality, and professional service for any VO project, including commercial, radio, digital, e-learning, corporate narration, and audio description, among others, with a breadth of emotion that brings your script to life and connects to the heart and soul of your audience.
Whether you’re a small business, a large corporation, or an independent producer, we take pride in understanding your projects and delivering high-quality recordings that go above and beyond expectations because our focus is on the outcome before the income.
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services and how we can help your project succeed.
If you haven’t already, follow Saundi Harrison-Cooksey, voiceofsaundi.com owner and talent of MyVoiceWorks Management, LLC, click the link for samples, booked work, and more.