5 Questions for a Professional Voice-Over Talent – Scott Nilsen

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice-Over Talent are answered by Scott Nilsen, a professional voice over talent based in Placentia, California.

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?

Unlike many of the people I have come across in this business, I did not come out of a radio or advertising background. I was a pastor. In the mid-to-late 90s we were living in Southern California, and I would see this particular advertisement in the newspaper for a place in Irvine called Del Mar Media Arts, featuring a headshot of Gordon Jump (“Mr. Carlson” of TVs “WKRP in Cincinnati”), offering classes in acting and voiceovers. We made a couple of moves to different states, but 2005 found us moving back to the area. I started seeing the same ad in the paper again. Life circumstances had changed drastically and I found myself in June 2005 as a widowed father of 3 who really didn’t want to go back to pastoring. I thought this was as good a time as any to check this place out. I started taking classes for voiceover (as well as on-camera acting) and really enjoyed it. I got my first voiceover job in 2006 and have been working more and more steadily ever since.

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

I think the fact that this is a business, and that you can’t wait for things to come to you. If no agents come knocking down your door, what are you prepared to do?

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?

It can be very easy to get caught in a rut, so continued training and practice is important. I am fortunate to live close enough to L.A. that there are plenty of workshops and coaching/training sessions available. I’m working on squirreling away a little cash regularly for these to try and keep sharp.

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

There are a lot of people in this business that I have found to be very generous with their wisdom and advice. I don’t think I’d be anywhere near as successful as I’ve been without the voiceover folks I’ve interacted with on the VO-BB and other places.

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?

The thing that sticks out most is the importance of being yourself. It can be very easy to get caught up in trying to mimic or copy someone else’s voice, and be another “them.” But there’s only one YOU. Show what “you” and “your voice” bring to the table.

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