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A Voice-Over Actor/Voice-Over Artist is an oral actor and in many ways, must convey emotions better than a visual actor. As a former voice-over artist, I can attest that being a voice-over artist can be fun, demanding, and is a great field!
- Practice reading articles out loud, prefereably those where you are required to change your voice. IE: Reading “Dr. Suess” books such as “Are You My Mother” are great ways to tell a story in a narrator’s voice, as well a host of characters in a book is a great way to practice keeping “in character”. When you get comfortable — volunteer to read in front of groups of children, as they will be honest if they like your characterizations or not.
- Practice your characterizations into a microphone. Play them back and listen to them; play them for friends and family.
- Record other people’s dialects and copy them, by recording yourself and playing the recording of your impressions versus the recording of the real dialect.
- Record your best dialects, your best “straight” copy (copy is another term for “advertisements” or “the written script”) and look up in the newspaper, trade magazine, or internet ads where there is someone hiring for part-time vocal work. You can call your local television cable company and ask who does their vocal work for their ads. SOME companies may not pay in money, but they will give you trade items. Keep copies of your work, for experience.
- Get copies of trade magazines, if at all possible, or, if you live in a larger town, go to the library to look at trade magazines there (“Radio Ink”, “Variety”, etc.). Or, you can always visit the Internet and look for places where they are hiring voice-over talent.
- The larger the market, the more you’ll need an agent, yourself. In larger markets, you may also need to become part of a union. Again, look up on the internet, “Voice-Over Actor’s Unions”
- When reading “copy”, make sure to SMILE. If reading copy of a serious nature, don’t smile. For some oddball reason, if you smile while reading copy, your voice sounds more engaging, more accessible, and people are more apt to respond to your voice if it sounds more approachable.
- AVOID “popping of the P’s and T’s” — that is when you talk into a microphone and you hear a “popping” sound whenever a “P” or “T” is pronounced. How can it be remedied? SMILE. That’s right — when your bottom lip is stretched, you have less of a chance of “popping the p’s” — just another great reason to smile while doing the greatest job in the world!
- Practice makes perfect – so studying the masters of the craft (Mel Blanc – the man of many voices, Hank Azaria, James Earl Jones, and a host of others- both male and female – will help you immensely)
- Going to a community college that specializes in Mass Communication can also help you if you wish to be in radio production – so don’t rule out college if you haven’t done so, yet.
- Once you get past a certain age (unless you have worked your way up and have gained a great reputation), big markets won’t be interested in you.
- Make sure you have a tough skin – this is a business where you will hear ALOT of feedback — both good and bad. You will also be competing against many others for your job in the larger markets, so hang tough, keep learning and keep growing.
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