5 Questions for a Professional Voice-Over Talent – Craig Crumpton

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Craig Crumpton, a professional voice over talent based in Atlanta, Georgia.

1. The beginning: When did you know you wanted to be a voiceover talent; how did your career begin (please include what year it started) and then when did your passion for voiceover develop into something professional?

I was already an animation fanatic by the time I was in preschool, and by middle school I noticed various cartoons had similar voices. Mel Blanc’s name was already familiar thanks to Looney Tunes, but I started to watch the credits for the cartoons I loved in the 80s and found sources at the library that helped me to identify who some of them were like Frank Welker, Daws Butler, Don Messick, June Foray, and Paul Frees. I was especially fascinated with how Mel, Frank and Daws could do so many different characters and I began to mimic what I heard and found I had a talent for it. But it wasn’t until I got to college in ’91 that a friend suggested that I look into voiceovers as a career — my small mind hadn’t even considered that people got paid to do voiceovers. So I started researching everything I could about the industry. A local library had copies of Susan Blu’s voiceover instructional tapes and Pat Fraley’s “How to Create Character Voices for Fun and Profit.” And it was Pat’s audio instructional that really fueled my passion for voice acting and the desire to become a professional voice talent.

In 1999, I started publishing “Voice Actors in the News” as a hobby but I lacked the confidence that I would ever “break into” the voiceover industry because I knew the realities of how competitive it was. Voice acting was also a hobby during that time — I booked occasional gigs as a storyteller for kids and as a comedian/impressionist until I started touring full-time with a couple music groups, so I put my interest in pursuing voiceovers on hold. And then in 2005, after performing in an Atlanta talent show I was approached by one of the show judges — a representative for the Arlene Wilson Talent Agency who said she would like me to interview with the agency for voiceover representation. I signed with them a week later.

2. What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started out in voiceover?

No matter how talented you think you are, getting training and coaching from qualified, experienced (and recommended) professionals is a must. To succeed in the VO biz, you must know how to self-direct. You must know and understand what works and doesn’t work in various types of voiceovers. While you can find helpful info on the web and through recommended VO books/instructionals, it simply cannot fully prepare you for the reality of the work and what’s involved in being a professional.

I also wish someone had told me there was a very limited market for impressionists and that I should focus on commercial work first. And in regards to commercial VO, to get out of my head thinking I needed to *act* in commercial work when the reality is that it’s all about being genuine, real and believable, and that it’s more important to be a good reader in commercial work than a good *actor*.

3. What do you see as the biggest professional or personal obstacle you face that impacts your voiceover business and how are you working to overcome it?

Being dilligent to record auditions as soon as I receive them, but I have also been hindered by faulty, inferior equipment for the last few years. And that’s the other obstacle — lack of finances to get better equipment and new demos produced due to difficulty finding steady work and periods of unemployment.

4. What personal trait or professional tool has helped you succeed the most in your career so far?

Pat Fraley’s audio instructional products (and having him as a mentor).

5. In your development as a voice over performer, who has been the one particular individual or what has been the one piece of performance advice (maybe a key performance trick, etc.) that you felt has had the most impact on your actual voice over performance and why?

There isn’t just one individual. I have gotten something great, practical and useful from every VO coach/instructor I have had the opportunity to take a class or workshop with.

– Pat Fraley for his ability to teach in a refreshingly simple way that’s easy to understand and put into practice.
– Bob Bergen for his ability to make learning the craft of voice acting fun, informative, entertaining, and memorable. (His techniques are so effective, I booked a gig at an audition within two hours after taking one of his workshops.) He also has an uncanny ability to coach a poor or mediocre performance into a great one.
– Bill Holmes for his practical approach to commercial reads.
– MaryLynn Wissner for her expertise from her experience in voice casting and directing.
– James Alburger for literally writing the book on voice acting and his excellent skills as a coach/instructor.
– Bob & September Carter for offering an affordable, effective workshop that is like getting two workshops in one.
– Scott Hilley for creating an excitement and enjoyment for the craft of voice acting that makes you want to run out and audition for anyone who will listen.

As for the “one piece of performance advice”, see my response to #2.

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