At a restaurant recently a fellow at the next table heard me talking and leaned over to ask, “is that your real voice?” I said “yes, it is” as my wife and kids laughed. He went on, “I hope you’re doing television commercials or something because that voice is awesome!” I thanked him and said that I indeed do voice work. He said, “cool…sorry to interrupt, I just had to say something.” And the exchange ended.
This happens all the time. And it’s flattering of course. But it’s also humbling since, as a voice actor, I know that the sound of my voice means almost nothing. It’s the acting that matters. That’s why, since returning to voice work in 2018, my biggest investment has been training as an actor. I’ve logged nearly 1,000 contact hours in formal classes, workshops, and conferences (you can see a detailed list with teacher’s names here). And I’m still not always at my best.
Acting is hard…well GOOD acting is hard. And self-direction is even harder. Add in too the fact that acting and directing choices vary between genres. Animation is different from commercial which is different from promo which is distinct from documentary narration, etc. And often, it’s only subtly different.
The point is, acting is work and VOICE acting is no less so no matter how unique, sultry, sexy, or interesting your voice sounds. I knew this going in and have been reminded of it by every coach and teacher with whom I’ve worked.
So when someone asks me how to get into voice acting, I tell them…become a great actor first. Take classes. Be prepared to take shots to the ego, to be sort of unmade and remade. If you cannot, or will not, do those things with courage and persistence. Don’t be an actor of any kind.
If you do choose the VA path, you’ll get beat up. It’s just part of the process…a valuable part. SO take the “wins” when you can, no matter how small. Even it’s just appreciating the moments when a stranger is moved by your voice.