Getting Started in Voice Over

So you want to be a voice actor? You wouldn’t be reading this otherwise. Seems like an impossibility, right? After all, how do you even get started? It’s the same question that’s been asked over and over, so here’s the answer, straight from professional voice actors themselves!

1. Get as much acting experience as possible (and music doesn’t hurt either).Acting experience is key. No matter where you are, you can find a way to get acting experience. Look for school plays, church plays, community theater, or anything that will give you some solid experience. Google is your friend in these endeavors. Why? Well voice acting is part voice and part…acting! And the acting is the most important part of it. Any sort of experience in acting will make you better. While some may argue that stage acting and voice acting are too different, we’ll leave that for a different article. But more than anything, practicing acting is the way to go. If you’re looking for even more than just stage work, there are places online where you can practice voice acting such as the Voice Acting Alliance, Voice Acting Club and so on. Mark Hauser

2. Take acting classes, especially improv. There’s only so much you can do to improve on your own. And yes, I know you’re already quite awesome at voice acting. But don’t you want to be even more super awesome? Then take classes! They’ll teach you the tricks that you won’t discover on your own. If your teacher is good, he or she will be able to draw new voices out of you (more voices = more work), and improv is especially useful as most voice acting is done cold (without seeing the script ahead of time). Plus…you get the all important networking factor! Most voiceover teachers or coaches have plenty of connections in the professional world. Many are professional voice actors themselves, or even directors. Taking a class with them is a golden opportunity to get noticed by someone in the pro world. That being said, do yourself a favor and don’t try to show off. While talent is a large part of voice acting, no one’s going to take in a newcomer who seems like they’re going to be obnoxious.

3. Make a demo reel. The demo reel is the voice actors resume/business card. It is, in short, a sampling of your best voices that you send out to agencies, production studios, where ever, in the hopes that they’ll cast you. Basically, it’s your two minutes to show off what you can do in terms of voices, acting, and delivery. Back in the day, they were tapes. These days it’s usually sent through email in MP3 or WAV format or on a CD through the mail. But don’t skimp on quality! Getting your demo professionally done may be expensive, but it WILL pay for itself in the end!

4. Go where the work is. First off, yes, there are voice actors who do their work strictly from their home office. But they have professional quality home studios. You won’t get picked up big a larger studio (and especially not a dubbing studio) if you can’t come in to their own studio to record. Second, yes there is such a thing as a phone patch where one studio connects to another one that’s far, far away. You’re likely not going to get that offer unless you’re already an established talent. So go where the work is. LA and NYC are the big hubs for voice acting, with LA being decently larger. So why do you even have to live in the area? Why not just fly in to record and then be on your merry way? Voice acting doesn’t work that way. Sometimes emergenies come up, sometimes schedules change, and sometimes they absolutely need you in to booth NOW. Directors and studios will look for someone who can be there right this second if needed. While it is possible to ferry back and forth between cities (some actors do it), keep in mind that they are already well-established voice actors who they’ll call upon who are closer and it’s not reasonable or cost-effective for someone trying to break into the business.

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