Below are some commonly asked Questions and my thought out responses to help guide you into pursuing your dream to voice act!
Actress for FUNimation and Sentai Filmworks. Over 350 video game roles including Warframe, Smite, and Paladins. Along with on Camera Disney Chanel Actor
"I want to get started in Voice Acting but have no clue where to start!"
Well you've got a great starting off point already! Passion and drive! Now you just need the steps and I know that feeling all too well. When I first wanted to get started, I had no idea what to do or where to turn to. Which is why now, as a professional working voice actress , I work hard to put out information I would have loved to know when I was getting started.
The first thing you should ask yourself is "What do I want to do first?"
There are so many different avenues of voice acting: Commercial, video games, audio books, anime, cartoons. And while these all have some common things like using your voice, needing a microphone, needing to know a basic audio edit, ect. They also greatly differ in paths. Where one might search for video game auditions, may not always be the same place one searching for commercial auditions would be. The tricky thing about voice acting is that there aren't always the same paths and steps for every single person. Almost every voice actor has their own unique story of how they got into voice acting. Which means it can be hard to give general advice since so much needs to be specified to what you'd like to do and your dreams and means.
The tips I've written below are common questions I get often and the shortened answers. Some of the details and questions are things I cover in entire 2-3 hour long classes! So shortening them to readable chunks is impossible without leaving out some of the finer details. Please note that there is more to each of these questions. Feel free to reach out to me if you have one specifically. If enough people do, I will add it to this list.
This entire section should help break down that general feeling of "Oh man! Where do I start!? I have some many questions." by addressing some of those questions and starting your journey to learning more and getting started about Voice Acting!
If you would like to learn more, please check out the Classes section. I have an entire 2 hour long class dedicated to getting started Voice Acting right away! Tackling all the basics like home studios, changing your voice, finding auditions, demo reels and more
Agents and Agency Representation
I think there is a HUGE misconception about how helpful agents and agencies are. Most people assume, based of media representation of actors and their careers, that to have any amount of success, you need an agent/ agency. (While there is a difference between an agent and an agency, I wont cover that here because of length.)
If you speak with most working voice actors, many will have an agency. However, the amount of work they get from their agency is a VERY low ratio! Most actors saying below 5% of their jobs per year are from an agency, and that 5% is generous. From the actors Ive spoken to myself, its normally 1%. Now this is where I see a lot of actors starting out hit their first major wall. They jump out there, find themselves an agency, and think "Welp! Now I just sit back and wait for the auditions to roll (pun intended) in. But the problem is, is most of the professionals in the field aren't relaying solely on agents, then it does not bode well for that actor just starting off.
While agents/ agencies provide actors with more opportunities for roles, there is often a lot more that goes into it. I have an entire class I cover in my 6 Week Actor Bootcamp all about agents and agencies. So for reading purposes, I will try to be somewhat brief but detailed.
An agency will offer you more chances to audition, assuming you do not have a scam agency, which sadly are a thing, they aren't recommend as an actors sole source of work. That other 95%-99% of work from that working actor? Its coming from their own hustle. They are out there finding the auditions themselves, booking their own jobs! If you really want to get started in Voice Over, that is what I would recommend to you LONG before I mention an agency. Ive worked fine without an agency for years. I have booked every single video game and anime role WITHOUT an agency. I booked a commercial and a tv series on the Disney Channel without an agency. Look at them as another source of auditions, not your main resource.
What are Casting Directors Looking for in a Demo Reel?
What Casting Directors are looking for in a demo is HIGHLY subjective to the director and the project. What I can tell you rather is what they AREN'T looking for. Now there are always exceptions out there which is why its so hard to say for certain any rules about demo, but these are the normal things.
A casting director will probably have no use for a demo outside of the field they are casting for. If you have a commercial demo reel, that's wonderful! But it probably wont help you book that video game. They will probably want to hear a video game demo instead. This is why many actors invest in multiple types of demo reels. Often having a commercial, an animation/character and some even having a narration or a video game. I will cover more info about demo reels below so please check that out if you have other questions.
A casting director won't want to hear your impressions. Impression are great in a way. They show an actors has a knack for spotting out different vocal placements and qualities and a good ear to be able to spot them out. Both are nifty skills to have. However, a demo reel is not the place for that. A demo reel should showcase unique characters and original voices. They want to hear what YOU can do. Not an impression of what someone else created. They want to hear how you can fit into their projects.
"How do I connect with Game/ animation companies?"
There are some things you can do and some things you REALLY SHOULDNT! In fact, if youre thinking of submitting your work to companies, please STOP EVERYTHING AND READ THIS FIRST!
This may sound cruel, in fact it just is, but there are some companies/ agencies that collect bad submission and have "Listening Parties" where they listen to terrible submission. Many actors who are selected for these are remembered...but not in a good way. Because of this, it is very important you don't start just sending your work off everywhere. Especially when youre just getting started.
Once youre ready, have done some work on the indie scene, you may want to start moving up your work. This is normally the time you have the experience to start approaching professional companies. Things you can do that will help frame you in a positive light are things like: Introducing yourself politely, mentioning your past work and interest in working together and inquiring politely about auditions.
Things you should NOT do: To Quote the Simpsons "Don't Do What Donny Don't Does". Do not spam the company/director/ other actors for that company with your work (Constantly tagging, bombarding with messages) Many actors and directors are busy. And many have run into the Donny Don'ts out there. Some of them truly want to answer your questions, but get flooded with emails and messages and they dont have time to sit down and help coach you for FREE through everything. Their time is money. I'm even sitting down and writing all this out in one spot to have a reference for beginning actors. I know how it feels to want to get started, but blowing up someone's inbox is a GREAT way to get blacklisted. Don't threated or demand a role. You would think I wouldn't have to say that, but if its in here, its because it has happened... Do not write to an actor demanding to be put into a project they are also in. Much more often than not, that actor has NOTHING to do with casting. And demanding that of them puts them in a very odd place. You are literally asking them to stake their reputation with a client they worked hard to get, to get you, a person they have never met, a part. Don't pester directors about auditions after they have closed. If you want feedback, there are ways to nicely request such but should be included in your initial audition email, not in a follow up.
If you would like to know exactly how, step by step, to get involved with voice acting for Video Games, I have a digital direct download class that covers exactly how. It is 2 hours long and will cover everything from home set up, to creating voices, to finding auditions. So you can start recording for video games RIGHT after the class. For more info, click here and go to "Breaking Into Video Games"
What Do I Need to Get Started?
To put it simply you need;
-A Microphone (I will later be writing up a microphone suggestion page for those who are unsure of which might work for their needs)
- An Interface (If not built into the mic. I detest USB mics for the most part as they often sacrifice quality for convivences. However, the Samsung Meteor Mic is a good one for beginners on a budget)
-Some Websites with auditions
-An Editing Software. I recommend Adobe Audition or Protools
- To Start Seeking out Education
I will always recommend education for those starting out or even those working who want to progress further. Education from multiple teachers can always help you in ways you may not have found yourself. And just like how starting out, many of us wanted so badly to message the professionals who work in this field to get advice, classes are how you do that! Many professionals are teaching and many classes can be found online or through podcasts. Please make sure to research your teacher before you invest any money in classes. Make sure they work in the field. I cant tell you how many students Ive had come to me who had been scammed over by someone CLAIMING to work in video games, but had in fact never even worked in voice over. These classes normally advertise themselves online in "Teaching you how to make 6 figures in your PJS!" Long story short, make sure your teacher has actually worked in the field. A quick google search of their name should pull up an IMDB or Behind the Voice Actors page.
Is It Common For Jobs to Want Me to Edit My Own Audio?
Sometimes. It depends on what is in your agreement. More often than not, I run into them wanting me to edit mine but I also tend to include it in my quote for the job. Sometimes I will offer two quotes, One offering Raw audio and One offering a slightly edited. Because of my studio set up, not much is needed other than I will remove messed up takes, arrange the lines, silence dead air, and listen for any mouth noise that may have snuck its way into any of the reads. Many companies will pay a bit more to have cleaned up audio than to have to clean it themselves. Others may want to save that money and then you save time by just recordings and sending. Make sure to consider this when quoting for jobs.
More info about coming up wth quotes and prices is covered in my 6 Week Voice Acting Bootcamp and many sources online have prices guides.
"Can I Do Voice Acting From Home?"
It depends on what field of Voice Acting you'd like to go into. Many people are surprised to find out just how much of this industry has, and continues to move online. With technology advances making audio equipment easier to afford and internet advances like skype and Source Connect, many clients actually prefer to work with actors online. This means that is is very possible to work as a voice actor from exactly where you are. While there are some things like animation and anime that still require the actor to psychically come to the studio, commercials, audio books, and video games all move more and more into the online market.
How Do I Get Noticed?
There are so many ways and so many stories out there of how people got "noticed". But I will tell you how many of them started, maybe not all, but many.
They started with Acting Classes. To improve and sharpen their acting talents, to learn new approaches, to get experience.
They also went out there and probably started small. While there are the occasional actor who came out of the blue into a lead role, those cases really are the exception. Most actors started small and worked their way up! You're resume and experience is every bit as important. When you come into a new company, you will normally be asked to audition. But what gets you in the door to that audition? Your resume and demo reel. What gets you the part? Your talent, training, your ability to take direction, and honestly, timing.
Being online on social media is also becoming a huge influence on getting noticed. There are even some companies who ask you to put your twitter handle down when you're signing in so they can look you up. And in some cases, a game company may be deciding between 2 actors and actor A may have 20,000 followers on twitter and actor B has 200. They will more often than not, choose actor A for more publicity. It should t be a thing, but it is. This is part of why I teach Social Media Marketing for Actors. As well as having games contact and find YOU instead of you having to find them.
A website is a HUGE deal when it comes to getting found. I probably get 3-4 jobs offers per month just from companies finding my website. As well as it being a site entirely focused on showing you and your talent. When I want to cast new talent that I've never worked with before, which can be risky, I look up their name and see if I can find a website of theirs. I want to know they are dependable and take this career seriously. And aside from your resume, having things like website can help show all the things you've done in one place. It's literally a place you control with all the promotional material youd like in one place..
Can someone change their voice?
"I want to make my voice more unique/more deep/ more bubbly"
Our voices are normally a product of our environment and age. Because of this, they are constantly changing. Most people think of the classic voice change when guys are about 12-13, but it's not always so dramatic. Normally over time, our voices lower. In fact, both men and women have normally 3 voice changes in their lifetime. You can change your voice by actively speaking a certain way, similar to how you would do accent/dialect reduction. Example being, my cousin always pronounces "Washer" as "Warsure". It drove me insane growing up honestly. But if she were to catch herself and correct herself every time she pronounces it that way, eventually this would become her default pronunciation. Many people have a speech placement either related to how their friends and family speak, or their dialects placement. This is how you get a group of people who all speak with vocal fry (aka how a Kardashian sounds) chances are, they did not grow up sounding like that, they subconsciously picked it up and started speaking like that. Many people tend to have chest voices or nasal placement because of this.
However, when you work on changing your voice placement and quality, you can EASILY do PERMENANT vocal damage. This is why you should learn as much about voices as you can and work with a vocal coach. Changing this blindly is a recipe for disaster and injury.
A unique sound is normally subjective to your field. Example, Mila Kunis has a unique voice, but because of the raspy quality, it's actually common in LA and on screen actors. But for VO, it's not heard as much