It has never been a better time to get into voice acting. With the plethora of streaming channels, digital content, diverse genres, and the ability to work from home, it’s never been easier and more accessible to make this a career. At the same time, there has been a considerable influx of excited, young, fresh voices getting into the voice over industry. The pandemic alone saw many new faces and on-camera actors starting with their skill, talent, clients, and social media followers. The competition makes it more difficult for existing voice actors to stay ahead of the curve. With voice acting becoming a popular industry for Millennials and Gen Xs to join, is it possible to stand out in a sea of talent?
Authenticity is Key
First and foremost, it is so important and challenging to just be yourself! What does that mean? Why does that matter? In the old days of voice over, many saw similar types of people – age-wise, skills-wise, gender-wise, and race-wise in the voice over world. Nowadays, it is so important to be yourself. You matter! You are unique and diverse and have an exciting story to share. Only you have walked in your shoes, which is what the creative directors and producers want to see. Be authentic in ways that many do not dare. It has never been more popular than ever to be yourself! There is no “voice-over” mold that directors want to see. Just turn on the TV, and you’ll hear a variety of diverse voice actors from different walks of life. The more distinctive and eccentric you are, the better. That means people will listen to you, and people will take note.
Languages & Accents Used in the Voice Over Industry
Having a unique set of skills is one way to set you apart from other voice actors. Can you speak another language? Are you of a specific nationality? Are you BIPOC? Can you speak with a particular accent? Can you translate the copy into another language? The ability to perform multiple languages and accents will set you above so many other voice actors today, and directors, agents, and producers will love that. Do you think they would rather have one actor who can speak one way or an actor who can speak ten different ways? I think you can answer that one.
I am a native North American accented English speaker. I can speak beginner French and Spanish, yet, I speak with an accent. One of my biggest regrets is not following up on my French and Spanish lessons from a younger age because I know if I kept it up, it would be a difference in my business. My husband speaks fluent Spanish, and I have been able to refer work to him. Within the last six months, I have noticed that he has been booking quite a few more appointments, which tells me there is a definite need for more voices. I do have the ability to perform accents if need be. I will not audition for a role if they ask for a native speaker of a specific language, but if they don’t, and the part is small, I may audition in the accent that I feel I can relate to.
Technical Skills You Need to Succeed
How are your technical skills? Are you able to edit your voice over files, are you trained in engineering? Can you mix and master? Nowadays, I have seen call-outs for actors who can add music under their files and provide their editing and mixing. It takes weeks, months, and years to perfect the art of editing. Suppose you have a background or a knack for technical skills such as setting up equipment, editing, trouble-shooting, and mixing and mastering. In that case, that will set you apart from most voice actors and make you a very diverse and coveted talent.
You can also enroll in technical classes online or in-class. I use Logic Pro X and am part of a few Facebook groups to assist me when troubleshooting. I would love to take formal Log Pro X classes and use tricks and hacks that can improve my recordings.
Acting & Singing in the Voice Over Industry
A big plus to being a diverse voice over talent is the ability to act and sing. Are you someone with those skills? Then agents may be looking for you! This is the industry of Voice Acting – full-stop. Some talent call themselves voice over artists, and I’m guilty of having business cards with that title, but that doesn’t do our profession justice. We are actors, plain and simple. Some actors are on-camera; we are off-camera. Every role we play requires thinking, “Who are you, where are we, and who are you speaking to?”
Those are the same techniques that an on-camera think as they put themselves into their character. Let your clients know if you have been professionally trained in the Stanislavski, Method Acting, Meisner, Chekov, or Practical Aesthetics method of acting. They will give you an edge over many other talents out there that you can jump into character and most likely cover various characters and genres as required.
I took drama in high school and was grateful to win awards for my efforts. I enrolled in Improv classes, and this summer, I am enrolled in official acting classes via zoom, and I know that will be a difference in my acting ability.
It’s also important to note that age doesn’t matter in voice acting, and there is a need for all voices from 3 years old to over 100 years old. Don’t let your age or experience stop you from moving forward.
Your previous work experience is valuable when becoming a voice actor. You can find a skill in voice over. Do you know how to prepare an invoice? Can you make cold calls? Do you have customer service experience? Do you have graphic design experience?
When I started my career, I felt I had no experience, but slowly I began to notice my 15+ years of business experience was very important when running my business. These business skills are almost more important than any other skill mentioned in this article.
Join the Incredible Voice Over Industry!
By reviewing languages and accents, technical skills, acting and singing, and career experience, I’m confident there are many ways for you to stand out as a voice actor. What is your unique value proposition? What do you bring to the table? Take your time to brainstorm what that may be and use that to your advantage!