In voice-over the moment you put your demo out there – you are considered a lead voice.
You are the lead voice in the commercial representing Honda – you’re the voice of their brand – they’ve spent millions of dollars on the advertising campaign and your voice is the one they want people to associate with their brand.
It’s the same thing in animation, suppose you’re the lead character in Hasbro’s new multimillion dollar series. They want YOU to be the voice that kids and parents alike will recognize and relate to. You know those one-off characters that say a line and disappear? Producers have the series lead record those while they’re in the studio. When you’re the lead voice – your voice is everywhere.
Narrating a documentary series is no different. A production company pays millions of dollars for travel, research, and shooting and they’ve decided YOU are the one telling their story. You’re the one speaking to the audience, sharing with them the feelings of people involved, and guiding them on this journey for hours on end.
All of this is expected of you by studio, agents, and casting directors. When they meet you – they want to know you’re capable of being the lead. When you’re a film or theatre actor you can build your career up by taking on smaller roles at the start – a background part in a show, the occasional one line on TV or a commercial. In voiceover you’re expected to be the lead right from the start. There are not a lot of small voice-over roles, and the ones that are available get given to the actors already working on the project. Nobody is cast just for one line.
In order to get yourself up to the calibre of lead actor you need practice, patience, and training. The field requires a little more training than other avenues, but the payoffs are huge. Afterall – YOU are the lead and you can be expected to be paid as such. Maybe you’re spending a little more time and money learning, but the skills you acquire to be the lead voiceover pay for that 100s of times over.
People want instant results in this business and while it’s true that you can get a job pretty soon without much training – you have to ask yourself; Do I want a JOB or do I want a CAREER?
This is something you can do your entire life. Think of the legendary Morgan Freeman. You’ve heard his voice everywhere! Radio, TV, movies – He’s over 80 years old and still finding work. But maybe you’d like to see yourself in front of a camera or on a stage, or maybe you fancy yourself as a writer. Voice-over is a great way to support yourself while you explore other avenues. You are paid extremely well for your time, there’s no memorizing a script, no make-up, you don’t lose a job based on your looks, and best of all you’re working with fun and creative people from all avenues of the industry – animation, narration, imaging, promos, trailers, on-line tutorials, and so much more.
But the key to all of this? Practice. Voice-over is just like working out. If you stop hitting the gym you’ll find that your once buff and beefy arms are now incapable of lifting even the tiniest dumbbell. The same goes for voice-over, if you aren’t getting on the mic your performances are going to get weaker. Without regular training or practice you’ll lose those little things that make your voice and performance so special. Thankfully with technology it’s easier than ever to keep yourself sharp; whether you’ve got a fully decked out home studio, a single USB mic, or even a hand held tape recorder, all these will help you practice your range and hone your delivery on a consistent basis. How do the busiest people keep themselves working? Because they’re the ones who keep themselves practicing. They’re always in their studio, on their mic, or speaking into that dusty tape recorder. Are you? You better be – they are who you’re up against.
Always remember – YOU are the LEAD VOICE. Respect it in that fashion, demand more of yourself, and always reach higher.