Meet the Industry : Voice Actors

Posted By on Feb 20 2009 12:00 AM
What is a voice actor?

Many people want to be one, others think they are one, and some people just plain don't know what they are!

Why do they exist and what do they do?

How do you become one?

Find answers to these questions and more at VOX Daily.

For many, becoming a voice actor is a dream come true.

While voice acting is a popular career field to consider at present, it is still a business and successful voice actors know that their career has everything to do with three specific factors:

1. Artistic Vocal Talent
2. Being Technically Savvy
3. Having Business Sense

As we mentioned earlier, a voice actor is the producer of the creative vocal work that is recorded and used for a variety of applications including commercials for radio, television, telephone, podcasts, audio books, video games and more. The voice actor uses their natural gifts, predominantly their voice and mastery of it, to infuse life into the written word.

A voice actor is a creator of voice overs, and a voice over is the audio component of a media application commissioned by a client. Voice actors are also known as voice talents, voice overs, voice over artists, VO, VA, narrators, announcers, orators, and so on.

Voice actors come from a variety of backgrounds including the theater, singing, public speaking, educating, film and other fields.

Who are voice actors?

They could be your next door neighbor, your favorite on-air personality, the person who volunteers to read for the blind, a children's storyteller at libraries or hospitals, a musician, or someone who reads at your church.

Voice actors come from all walks of life which makes this industry all the more interesting and eclectic.

As with any business, there are different areas that people can specialize in while using their signature voice, that is, the voice that brings home the bacon.

Some voice actors make money doing commercial reads while others are more at home reading epic poetry or character voices for video games. There is a job for every voice actor and voice type as each client is looking for something different.

A while ago, we covered how to make the transition from singer to voice talent, a popular article that recognized the connection between the two professions. As a singer, many of the tools and techniques developed as a result of the Bel Canto method are ready made for voice overs. Years of operatic training come full circle as diction, proper breathing, tonality, interpretation, and characterization skills are transferred to create a vocal masterpiece using the spoken word as the canvas.

Many come from the theater or from on-camera careers in television or film. Sometimes, even celebrities take on the art of voice acting, a phenomenon that started with Tom Hanks' voice acting in Toy Story way back in 1995 to the star studded celebrity voice acting films of the 21st century including Cars, Shrek, and Ratatouille.

Some people find their calling in voice over earlier than others while most discover voice acting later as they opt for a career change (something new) or desire to use skills acquired during their former career and apply them to an entrepreneurial dream of starting their own business.

Voice over is a field of study as well as a profession and instruction is available through individual coaching sessions, voice over workshops, books, podcasts, CDs and webinars, many of which are accessible regardless of location and are reasonably affordable when investing in your voice over business.

There are several designations that we can consider when identifying the professionalism of a voice actor.

Voice over instructor Connie Terwilliger has identified four basic phases that people go through as they mature in their voice over career.

These Four Basic Phases are:

• Wanna-be
• Newbie
• Part-time
• Full-time

To define them further, a Wanna-be is someone who has been told that they have a great voice and should use it to make money.

A Newbie has taken a couple of seminars, has an idea of the direction they want to go in, simple technical abilities, and a low cost home recording studio.

A Part-time voice talent still works a day job to pay the bills, is more educated in voice overs than a Newbie and has the ability to record pro quality audio.

Lastly, a Full-time voice over talent is actively working in the business and can pay their bills in voice over or a very closely related area.

Obviously, it is the goal of any voice actor to achieve the fourth phase and work at their business full-time.

That being said, in order to get to this stage, you need to possess a solid balance of artistry, technical abilities and business skills.

While it's easy to identify your strengths you also need to know where your weaknesses may be in order to succeed in voice overs.

The floor is now yours: Can you relate to anything written in this article?

Add a comment with your thoughts!

Best wishes,




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