So You Want to Be A Voice Actor? Read Below…

27 Jul

I’m on the LinkedIn Group called Working Voice Actor Group hosted by Ed Victor. The following statements are comments from Emmy nominated Bob Bergen and a new voice over talent (name removed) during the summer of June-July 2011, approximate date unknown. The text was copied “word for word” and can be traced in the WVAG archives. After reviewing the group rules, I was able to reprint this discussion. Please site the source correctly if it’s used in another location. Thanks.

Working Voice Actor Group hosted by Ed Victor

VO Talent – OK. So I am the poor shlub who opted for the 9 to 5 hum drum instead of pursuing my passion for vo, and while I cannot complain (my job is rewarding) I wonder if I will ever get the opportunity to fully explore the possibilities of a voice-over career as well. I guess I am about as serious as any noob can be – I bought the AT2020, I have done a variety of work through my company (new hire training audio, numerous audio blasts, and even a comercial), but these were done as a sideline to my normal job. I wasn’t hired for my vo talent; I am just tapped for it constantly. 

So, my question is this: Am I spinning my wheels entertaining the thought of one day seriously exploring a vo career? Is the market so saturated that a 35 year-old well-spoken Capricorn from San Antonio should just keep his day job? I’d love – LOVE – to do comercials someday, or even a spot in a movie (as I am sure everyone would), but I am not a fan of being a “starving artist” or up and moving to LA or NYC with “hope in my heart” and a dream. Can I ONLY succeed if I forsake all else and take the plunge? What are some of your thoughts Big Ed? Can it be done?

Bob Bergen • Hey (VO Talent). Much of what I’m about to say I’ve said on other forums and postings, so for those who have read much of this before sorry about the rerun. 

What I usually tell people is, if you have any doubts about going into show business, do something else. If you cannot imagine being happy in your life without going into show business, then you are right to pursue show business. 

Now, the average age of the person taking their first VO workshop is 35. So, you are average. The average person pursuing a career as an actor (yes, VO is acting) doesn’t earn enough to support himself. If this doesn’t phase you you are right to pursue show business. 

Look, you can dabble all you want. If the dabble fills your soul then your mission is complete. But if your goal is to play in the majors, you need to take the plunge. 

There are no guarantees. And you cannot do it for the money. You have to do it because it’s a passion that fulfills you just to be in front of a mic, with or without a paycheck. You’ve got a day job to pay the bills. VO doesn’t have to pay the bills, nor do you need to break the bank over a short period of time to pursue it.

Are you a brilliant actor? If not, start there. Study acting and improv to the point you have a solid foundation under your belt. Then study VO. A trained actor makes choices, a non trained actor makes guesses. You need to be able to reproduce your craft at will, while be able to take direction and molding your performance to your director’s satisfaction. 

For me it was a 9 year journey from first day in a VO class to supporting myself as a full time actor. More than half that time was spent in VO classes, 2 years of acting technique, 3 years of improv, etc. 

No artist has to starve. You eat and pay the bills by your day job. You save what you can to study. You put NOTHING on credit! The business will always be here, so there’s no time limit or race. And all the while you are paying your bills and saving to invest in your VO career, don’t forget to save for retirement. It all adds up!! 

”Doing commercials” is a relative term. You can live in the smallest of small towns and do a local radio spot for $25. Hey-you’ve done a commercial. You can live in a major market and get a national TV campaign that nets you 25 grand in residuals. And everything in between. Non union won’t pay into a pension or health benefits. Nor does it pay residuals. Those in the major markets make a living on residuals, not session fees. 

They don’t need “well spoken.” They need brilliant actor, who can take any piece of commercial copy and deliver a read that marries the actor’s unique individual brand to the product’s. 

You don’t have to live in LA/NYC. But you do if you want to play in the majors. If this sort of move does not work with your lifestyle, then you need to research what you need to do to be the absolute best you can be in your VO market. 

But you get out of this business what you put into it. The road is a constant uphill, no matter how successful you are. I had to re audition for Porky Pig after playing him for almost 20 years..and AFTER recording a pilot for a new series. (I got the gig…again!!) 

Dabble or dive in, it’s all in your power. You have to decide what you need to do. No one can promise anything or make this decision for you. No one can predict what will happen to themself, let alone you. 

Can it me done? It’s done every day. You just have to decide if the journey is what you want, not the end result.

VO Talent – T-T-T-T- That’s great advice, Bob! 🙂 I guess I am just scared to jump in with both feet and jeopardize my world. But I desperately love the craft, and I suppose I just need to dive in and see where it goes. Thanks Bob and Ed for the encouragement and sober advice. I will put it to good use.

Bob – That fear of the unknown regarding show business never goes away. Because it’s always an unknown. Up to a certain point, no one really knows where their next job will be. Hey-that’s show biz!

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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Voice Overs


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