Every time I attend a convention I am asked:
How can I become a voice over actor?
So, I thought I would give you some tips on how to break into the biz.
First, why do you want to be a voice over actor? Do you have a passion for acting? An actor’s life is not always glamorous. In fact, it is mostly unpredictable. One day you’re busy and the next, you are waiting tables. Even with voice overs it sometimes makes a difference if you are young, cute, and the flavor of the month.
Doing voiceovers is a fun business but you have to be realistic
Don’t drop your day job until you are well established. There is fierce competition these days, especially with online audition sites such as Voices.com or Voices123. Nowadays anyone can become a voice over actor. All you have to do is pay up and start sending MP3’s to audition sites. The problem is, everyone and their brother is trying to do the same thing, so you better be good.
Personally, I’m put off by pay to play audition sites. In the Screen Actor’s Guild, this is a no-no. We get paid by the job and do not have to pay to play.
The biggest bang for your buck as far as voice overs go are commercials. If you are dreaming of becoming rich and famous doing anime, dream on. The anime industry is coming to an almost screeching halt unless you are willing to live in Texas. Unfortunately, our Texas buddies have settled for less than the going rate, which has undercut the Industry standard. Commercials offer residuals. They are awesome, especially if you can land a National. Some people have been able to put a hefty down payment on a house, simply from working 15 minutes on an ad.
Dubbing (as in anime) is a completely different animal than doing commercials or original animation. To be successful in original animation you have to be completely off the wall like Robin Williams. Be prepared to take improvisation classes.
Dubbing is tricky. You have to be somewhat musical to get the rhythm to sync the dialogue to match the picture. Writing scripts for anime is even harder. It’s like solving a Mensa puzzle. I did it for 10 years and almost tore my hair out. With Pro-Tools and other advanced editing software, it is much easier than it was when I first started in the Stone Age. With Pro Tools, you can tweak the dialogue until it fits the mouth movements. The problem is, there is some pretty bad dubbing out there as a result. We used to have to do a loop over and over until it fit, so we got pretty good at it.
To be a voice over actor these days it is becoming essential to have a professional home studio. That is a whole learning curve in itself and I admit that I am not completely up to speed. I always loved going into a studio with a professional engineer and a director. Now you have to be a full-service actor/engineer, director.
Start a Podcast
I would say your best bet is to start a podcast or go on Blog Talk Radio if you want to hear yourself on the airwaves. It’s free! You create your own celebrity and have virtually no competition. Sell stuff on your blog and you will become a millionaire entrepreneur. (or maybe you’ll earn a few hundred extra bucks a month) It’s all up to you!
If you have any questions about becoming a voice over actor, please leave a comment.