How to Become a Voice Actor

Do you enjoy acting? Do you have an attention-grabbing voice? Does the idea of bringing cartoons, animals, or other non-speaking entities alive with your voice sound like a dream job to you? If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, then a career as a voice actor may be the perfect fit for you! While finding work and success as a voice actor takes dedication, persistence, and perseverance, but it can also be a whole lot of fun and very rewarding. 

If being a voice over actor sounds appealing to you and it’s something you would like to explore, read on to find out how you can break onto the scene and break onto this exciting career path. 

What is a voice over actor, anyway? 

Before we jump in and explore how to start your career as a voice over actor, let’s take a moment to define the profession. As the name suggests, a voice over actor is a performer who utilizes their voice to narrate (sometimes at famous companies), market, and/or entertain on any number of platforms, including: 

  • Cartoons
  • Movies
  • Audiobooks
  • Commercials
  • Video games
  • Documentaries

As a voice over actor, not only do you have to be capable of using your voice to mimic, impersonate, or create one-of-a-kind character voices, but you must also possess acting skills. Because these actors are very rarely seen on-screen, their voices are the only way they have to express themselves – to grab the attention of the audience – so they must be able to convey their emotions verbally. While natural talent is important, voice over actors must work diligently to hone their craft; they need to train and practice regularly to improve their skills so that they can deliver an impressive performance. 

What does a voice over actor do? 

As a professional voice over actor, you will read and record scripts, copy, books, poems, and other types of written materials. Reading and recording takes place in vocal booths, where you will deliver your lines either in a performative or directive nature, depending on what the project you are working on requires. In order to effectively convey expression and emotions, you will need to make changes to the inflection in your voice, enunciate flawlessly, and adjust the pitch and tone of your voice. You may also be asked to or want to change your accent.  

Voice over actors lend their voices to a variety of mediums, including: 

  • Cartoons for children and/or adults
  • Video games
  • Anime 
  • Commercials 
  • Audiobooks
  • Narration 
  • Dubbing
  • eLearning materials 
  • Commercials 

Why become a voice over actor? 

Voice over actors have long been popular; however, in recent years, the popularity of this type of acting has increased exponentially, due largely in part to the rise of the digital age. As such, the demand for voice over actors is high; however, the industry is also highly competitive (but keep in mind other side hustles to keep you going). That said, with persistence, perseverance, and patience, you can hone your craft and find consistent work. Working as a voice over actor offers many benefits, some of the most notable of which include: 

  • Work from home. Many voice over gigs can be done in your own home recording booth. Working from home affords many freedoms; you can work in a comfortable environment (and in comfortable clothing), you won’t have to deal with the hassle of commuting, you’ll save a great deal of money, and you will be able to enjoy a better work-life balance.
  • Set your own hours. Whether you’re working part-time or full-time, as a voice over actor, typically, this gig is flexible and allows you to set your own hours and schedule. For instance, you could work 9 to 5, you could work early in the morning, evenings, or even late into the night. With this flexibility, you will have the opportunity to create a schedule that will best suit your individual needs. 
  • Work for yourself. Many voice over actors are freelance. They don’t work for anyone, but rather, they’re their own boss. This is another major perk, as you can decide which gigs you would like to accept or reject. When you first start out, you may need to be more willing to accept jobs that are less-than-ideal; however, as you gain more experience and you start working on a more consistent basis, you will be able to be more selective about the projects you pursue. In other words, when you work for yourself, you can quite literally create your “dream job” setting. 
  • Lucrative income. Voice over work can be quite lucrative. This is especially true for commercial jobs, such as animated movies, documentaries, commercials, or cartoon series, which can earn you hundreds and even thousands of dollars for just a few hours of work. If you make it to the “big time”, you may even be able to earn millions. 

How do you become a voice over actor? 

If you’re interested in becoming a voice over actor, here are some tips that you can use to get you started: 

  • Enroll in acting classes. Voice over acting involves more than just reading words on a page; it also requires acting skills. Taking lessons is a great way to learn tips and strategies, to hone your craft, and to refine your abilities. Classes also provide networking opportunities. 
  • Hire a coach. You’ll need more than just an attention-grabbing voice and you’ll have to do more than just read a script or make impressions. A coach can help you learn a variety of skills, such as enunciation, inflection, articulation, pronunciation, and even how to imitate accents from different regions of the world. 
  • Study professionals. Take the time to listen to professional voice over actors. Listen to cartoons, commercials, audiobooks, documentaries, and even video games that are voiced by your favorite actors. Pay attention to how they make their deliveries, how they change their tone, and how they convey their emotions. 
  • Record a demo reel. Create a demo reel that contains a variety of clips that highlight your voice acting skills. Act out a variety of different roles in a variety of different voices to create a medley of your abilities that showcase your talents. You can send out your demo reel to prospective clients who post gigs that you’re interested in. 

Audition. Look for postings for voice over acting gigs. Audition for jobs that catch your interest and that suit your talent. Don’t audition for jobs that are out of your wheelhouse just to audition. You won’t connect with the parts, and you’ll convey the lack of connection in your voice.

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