Whether or not we realize it, we are exposed to the work of voice actors throughout our daily routine. The voices behind morning cartoons, commercials, movie trailers, and amusement park rides are all voiced by these actors. Even the voice of Siri comes from the hard work of a talented voice actor!
Voices from people of all types and ages are required for projects across this industry. How does one get one of these coveted jobs? Through voice acting auditions.
You don’t have to sound like Don LaFontaine to get into voice acting. Many types of voices of all ages are needed in the voiceover industry. However, being a voice actor takes more than a wacky voice or ability to do a spot-on impression.
To be successful in this industry and kill those voiceover auditions, one must learn the tools of the trade and be ready to invest in their career by taking classes, creating a demo reel, and building a home recording studio. With the right talent, training, and recording equipment, anyone can be successful at voice acting auditions.
What is a Voice Actor?
A voice actor (sometimes known as a voiceover artist) uses their voice to represent a character or provide information to a listener or audience. Voiceover projects include animation, commercials, video games, audiobooks, tutorials, documentaries, radio dramas, toys, off-screen characters, crowd scenes (looping), dubbed foreign language films, comedy, puppet shows, and amusement rides.
The Ideal Voice Actor
An ideal voice actor is someone who has a good sense of themselves and can quickly take direction on the fly. They are great collaborators and have sharp improvisational instincts. To succeed in the industry, an actor must also be dedicated and persistent in developing their voiceover skills before tackling voice acting auditions. There are thousands of voice actors competing for these jobs. If you are not prepared to do your best work for an audition, casting directors (the gatekeeper between an actor and a role) will find someone who is.
How to Find Voice Acting Auditions
The good news is that thanks to the internet, there are many opportunities to find voiceover auditions even if you do not have an agent. Even better news? Many, if not most of these auditions, can be recorded from your very own home! You can even record it while still wearing your pajamas! Auditioning from home has become a way of life for the working voiceover actor. Gone are the days of trudging to the studio to get your voiceover audition submitted on time.
Suited for Specific Skills
Both beginners and pros alike audition from their home and only go into the studio to record their parts for a role they booked.
When submitting yourself for an audition, it is up to you to decide whether you are appropriate for the job. Not all jobs will be suited to your specific skills, age, or gender. For example, if the client is looking for an older, gravelly male voice, don’t audition for it if you are a higher-voiced man in his twenties. Know your voice, what it is capable of, and what you are appropriate to audition for.
While there are plenty of voiceover audition sites for you to choose from, here is a list of five to get you started:
- Voice123 (https://voice123.com)
- Bodalgo (https://www.bodalgo.com/en)
- voices.com (https://www.voices.com)
- VoiceBunny (https://voicebunny.com/#/)
- The Voice Realm (https://www.thevoicerealm.com)
Check out Traditional Actor Audition Sites
Also check out traditional actor audition sites like Backstage, Actors Access, and Casting Networks.
Although you don’t need an agent to find voice acting auditions, working with one will definitely help. Just like with any other type of agent, one of the voiceover agent’s primary duties is to assist their client in getting audition opportunities. They will also help to market you and negotiate your contract once you book a job.
Be sure to select an agent you feel comfortable with and trust. You should never pay an agent to find you work. After you book a paying job, the agent takes a percentage from what you earn. This should be a small percentage. In the US, agents can earn a maximum of 10% for SAG/AFTRA projects.
Get an Agent and Submitting Yourself for Auditions
If you get an agent, that does not mean you get to stop submitting yourself for auditions. A familiar adage about agents in the acting world is that they get 10% of your paycheck so they do 10% of the work. That leaves much work for the voiceover actor to do on their own! Search for voice acting auditions, take classes, and practice, practice, practice!
Audition Age Limits & Other FAQs
Whether you are 5 or 95, voiceover work can be right for you. There is no age limit when it comes to voiceover work. Multiple areas of the industry require old and young voices. While some young cartoon characters are voiced by adult actors (e.g., Bart and Lisa Simpson, Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans), there is still a need for child voice actors. A parent may find that their child is a voiceover natural. Due to their wild imaginations, willingness to learn new things and love of creating characters, children do quite well in this line of work.
Voiceover Work is Right for your Child?
If you are trying to decide if voiceover work is right for your child, think less about their age and more about their level of interest and their ability to follow direction. It is also essential that a child can cope with rejection and criticism before they begin voiceover auditions. Even the most skilled and talented voice actors often face rejection.
This might be hard for a child to understand because they have not yet learned how to keep the audition process in perspective.
Another great thing about voice acting is that you are never too old to start. Sometimes your age might even be the thing that sets you apart to book the gig. Just like with children, your passion, dedication, and talent are far more important than your age.
What Is A Demo Reel?
If you’ve already searched for voice acting auditions, you probably have seen requests for actors to submit their demo reel.
The demo reel is a way to showcase your talents for casting directors. Ideally, your demo reel will consist of jobs you’ve booked. However, when you are just starting out, recording old scripts or original copy will suffice. The goal is to give a well round representation of your voice.
Pay Close Attention to Sound Quality
It is crucial that the demo reel is of high quality. It is entirely acceptable for you to record a demo reel on your own, but if it’s not professional quality, casting directors will more than likely pass you over. If you do record on your own, pay close attention to sound quality and make sure there is no background noise.
Many professional recording companies will record and edit a demo reel for you. Working with one of them will ensure that the production quality of your reel is the industry standard. However, this service can be reasonably expensive, sometimes costing upwards of $500. Do your research to find a company that can work with your budget.
Where Do I Find Classes?
There are voiceover classes all over the country, particularly in entertainment hubs such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. Some studios will offer classes for all aspects of the voiceover industry, while others will focus on specific areas like commercial, animation, or audio books. Most of these studios have websites that list their class offerings, so be sure to do your research before you commit.
Also, consider taking acting and improv classes. Knowing how to use your voice is only half the battle. Great acting and improvisational skill are essential to success in this industry.
What If I Am Unable To Take Classes?
If it’s a matter of location, there are voiceover teachers who will do Skype sessions or send you feedback on your voiceover recordings over the internet. If it’s a matter of money, there are plenty of ways to hone your voiceover skills without spending a dime.
One of the easiest ways to practice for voiceover work is to read things out loud. Being able to read aloud smoothly is a fundamental requirement for voiceover actors. Read anything and everything out loud on a regular basis to get more comfortable. Practice enunciation and intonation one day; then character voices the next.
Once you feel satisfied with a piece of text, try recording yourself. Listen to it and take notes on areas you think can use improvement. Don’t be alarmed if the sound of your own voice surprises you. Many people experience this the first time they listen to themselves.
Do I Need A Home Studio?
Today, there are more voiceover opportunities than ever before – which also means there are more voiceover actors vying for those jobs. By having a recording studio at home, you can jump on those voiceover auditions quickly from the comfort of your pajamas and without the hassle or cost of booking studio time.
If you’re a creative, entrepreneurial type, exploring a career in the voiceover industry can be fun and exciting. It will probably take some time, money, and lots of hard work, but the results can be well worth it. No matter your age or past acting experience, the world of voiceover work has many opportunities for many different types of voices.
Featured Image: CC0 Public Domain by DavidSatterlee via Pixabay