1. Voice over requires a great voice.
Next time you hear a radio or TV commercial, stop and listen closely to the voice. Was it the voice itself or was it the way they delivered the words that was compelling? Did it make you giggle, or cry, or snicker… or maybe make you go out and buy new running shoes or a huge burger with jalapeno sauce?
Some people have incredible sounding instruments. But many simply know how to play that instrument well.
That’s the real magic of voice over.
2. Voice over is all about accents and funny voices.
Sure, animation and interactive games might require you to be an old Irish witch, crazed Boston killer, or cute and cuddly sounding baby bear, but that’s a specialty. The vast majority of VO work is much more natural: commercials, narration, promos, etc.… And when an accent is required for those – it is usually cast with some who is authentically British, German, etc.
Of course, it’s always a great idea to challenge yourself by trying out voices & characters with different ages and dialects, but it’s not required for everyone.
3. I don’t need to take classes; I have natural talent.
Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro, Michael Phelps and Serena Williams all started with natural talent, but then studied and worked with experts on their crafts to actually bring out those natural gifts.
VO work is like any other discipline: singing, dancing, violin, basketball, tennis… you name it.
It requires lots of practice and skills you didn’t know you needed, until you started doing it.
There’s no shortcut to fame and fortune in the voice over world.
4. I can work anywhere in the world.
Yes… and No.
One of the great advantages to ever-advancing technology is that a lot of voice over work can be done from your home studio, or remote studio nearby. Clients can direct sessions via SKYPE or other current technology. That’s true for nearly all VO work… with a couple of exceptions.
It’s much easier to get access to union commercial TV and radio work if you’re in one of the major hubs: NY, Chicago, LA, but not absolutely necessary if you have a relationship with a voice over talent agency, in a fairly large market. And if your real dream is to be in a cartoon series – Los Angeles is still the mecca for TV animation.
Even well-known actors and series regulars are required to be present at a local designated studio for animation series sessions… which means auditions are limited to local (LA) talent as well.
Don’t be discouraged – there are still plenty of smaller animated projects that are offered outside LA, just maybe not that coveted Family Guy, Sponge Bob, or Justice League gig.
5. Once I’ve got an agent, the money will come rolling-in.
In a perfect world, yes – but voice over is an audition-based industry. Every booking is the result of winning an audition. And with the internet, your competition might be 300 or more other equally talented folk on any given audition.
Represented or not – if your auditions aren’t up to par you might not be invited as often, which will certainly limit your number of bookings.
You’ve gotta be on your game, every time.
6. I should join the union as soon as possible.
No question about it – union work is the ultimate ideal. It continues to pay as your spot is being run, and money is going into your pension and health insurance funds. That’s the dream, baby.
But competition at the union level is that much stiffer, so you’ve really gotta be delivering great auditions, every time. A great way to get your feet wet is working non-union.
Fees are buyouts, but if you’re good and work at it – you can still make a very good living.