Ask Me!: Getting into VO’s?

How did you get into voiceovers? And how would you recommend I start?
Anonymous

I got into voiceovers at first because people would compliment me on my voice and accent and then ask if I did voiceovers. Eventually, a good friend of mine cornered me and told me to make a demo. I thought about it for a while, then I started to watch/listen to commercials on TV/radio to see if I heard my kind of voice. I noticed that ad agencies would use an English accent for car commercials and beauty spots with the occasional comic-brit voice for sillier spots such as Geico or Orbit.

So, I chose about 5 commercials that I thought I could have been hired for, transcribed the copy (text) so that I had scripts for them, and made a note of what kind of music was used. Then I went to another friend of mine, the amazing casting director and commercial teacher Angela Montalbano, and asked if she had any ideas where I could record a demo and if she’d be interested in directing me. She hooked me up with a great studio and we booked an hour session for a very reasonable price. I knew that these studios charge by the hour so I made sure to be as prepared as humanly possible so that I could maximize my time in the booth. We laid the whole thing down, music and all in just under an hour. Angela was very generous and offered me some non-union agency contacts and her name as a reference. I went home, burned a bunch of copies of my demo then went about mailing the thing off to these agencies. I also put it up on my website immediately and sent an email out to everyone I knew letting them know that I was available for voiceover work.

Another friend of mine heard my demo and suggested I visit his VO producer friend for a meeting and see if he had any advice for me. Luckily, he did. He was the gracious and amazing Jim Kennelly from Lotas Productions and he gave me a list of agencies to call and/or send demos to. I heard back from an agent through Angela and an agent through Jim and began freelancing with them. Within that first month I had booked 3 VO jobs! After the first year I booked a radio spot for Coke and another friend put me in touch with the VO team at CESD. Within another couple of months I had booked a small campaign as a narrator for radio and TV in Britain for Ask.com. I am still working with the divine group at CESD and have since joined SAG and AFTRA through the jobs I’ve booked through them.

I recently met a voiceover teacher who berated the way in which I came into the scene. He was very condescending and suggested that it was a fluke. He may be right, but I would encourage you to ignore that and really go for it.

If you have heard that you should do voiceovers, or people compliment you on your voice all the time, then why not make it work for you? Spend a little time getting really clear on what type of voice you have and understanding how it will be used in the industry. Then compile a list of commercials/animated characters/video games/audiobooks (whatever genre you think you’re best suited to at first) and pull together a great demo. It does take time and it will take a lot of patience, but if you put in the time up front to make that demo as good as it can be (even if it’s like mine and originally full of fake spots!) and you produce it well, it will DEFINITELY lead to more. Eventually you will be able to replace the fake spots with real ones.

And I recommend hitting up EVERYONE you know when you’re ready to get out there. It doesn’t hurt to ask and there will always be someone with a connection that you never saw coming.

2 Comments

  1. Superb website you have here but I was wanting
    to know if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics discussed here?
    I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get suggestions from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

  2. I’m glad you like the site, thank you!
    As for message boards, both Backstage and Actors Access have them. If you want to get into some great discussions with fellow actors you can also follow me on Tumblr: http://thenycactor.tumblr.com where I answer questions and post articles on a platform that makes it easier to have a conversation within the community.

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