If you listen to the majority of voice over demos from most voice talents (especially the guys), you’d think that there must be a billion radio stations out there and each and everyone one is a CHR or Hot AC format (hey, I’ve got one too, so I’m not throwing stones, just making an observation.) The power voice or the raspy voice or the cool everyman voice can be offered by about a thousand voices.
But once a VO’s done his/her few contracts for the month (be honest, we KNOW who gets the majority of the work…it CAN’T be all of us), what else has one got? Well there’s the straight announcer voice that can be altered with a few inflection changes. OK, that’s good.
Let me ask a harmless question: are you a voice actor?
“You mean like impressions?” No, sort of, but more acting.
“You mean like my Homer Simpson impression?” Uh, no.
I mean can you leave your imaging and announcer voice behind and actually become a character with only your voice?
Hmmm. Well, while you ponder that thought, let me just point out that I have a very marketable announcer voice, and I have done my fair share of imaging work. But when it comes down to making money, my voice acting abilities are what sets me apart from many voice talents. It also allows me to pay a mortgage. Oh yes, voice acting isn’t about $50/spot work….did I fail to mention that?
Am I the greatest voice acting talent ever? Yes, when I am in the booth alone or in an ISDN session, that’s what I subliminally tell myself; but in reality, no. However to the producers that hire me for President’s day commercials or St. Patrick’s Day commercials or for video games, I am the best voice because I can bring their character to life like no other.
That isn’t a “one-up-manship” question, but rather a way for you to critically look at your abilities.
I know some voice overs who will never be voice actors- the creativity or the vocal abilities really aren’t inside them. They make their money off their “money voice”. That’s awesome!
But if you have some characters inside you but you’ve never really fleshed them out or you’ve never strayed far from the voices you’ve been doing since high school, I’d like to offer you some unsolicited advice.
Get your ass to class.
Voice acting class actually. There you’ll find other voice actors of various professional experiences, abilities and talents who have gathered with a teacher they trust to develop the basic skills they need to create or expand a character repertoire. They’ll help you try new things without pointing fingers or laughing. It’s a group of sincere, like-minded folks who want to succeed and more often than not want YOU to succeed.
Finding a class in your area may take some work. I would start with some professional recording studios that often produce commercials or a college with an acting program. I alternate between two acting classes (mostly because I enjoy the students and teachers at both). The Voice Squad is run by Len Tobin. The Voice Actor Workshop of WNY is run by Toni Silveri who has performed and trained with some of voice acting’s greatest talents including the late but still infamous Daws Butler. There are some great national teachers who often take their act on the road including Pat Fraley as well as James Alburger and Penny Abshire; if they are presenting within a “state” of you, get your ass to their class too. James and Penny offer this voice acting teachers guide too. The Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) also have a resource page you may want to check out as well.
I also work with and train voice talent through the Voice Talent Workshop.
You’ve have got to stretch not just your vocal muscles but your creative muscles as well. If you think you can act, you need to try. There’s money in them there pipes…you just need to flush it out!