Tips From Producers Who Hire Voice Talent…
I have a good friend whose father taught him a valuable lesson before he started his working career. He said, “If you want to be a fireman, go and talk to a fireman. If you want to be a doctor go and talk to a doctor…” and so on. You get the idea.
The same goes for the creative professions. The twist in the voiceover scenario is: talk to the people who hire voiceover talent.
Could be a Creative Director at an ad agency, or even a writer of an animated series. But mainly, it’s the project’s Producer who’s making the call and taking the blame if things go sideways. So that’s the person I want to focus on for now.
Here are some tips I’ve gotten from producers over the years. Some they told me, some I learned on my own, but mostly, they are all based on common courtesy and common sense.
Be professional: Be on time and be prepared. “Showing up is half the job,” Woody Allen once said. It’s true. It doesn’t matter that your kid got sick or your dog ate your script, if you don’t show up on time, and you’re not even sure what you’re auditioning for, you won’t be called back. You get one shot with most people in this business, so don’t blow it! Leave home extra early to get there on time. If you get the script ahead of time, you don’t have to memorize it, but study the script and look for ways to ‘make it your own’
Make A Choice: This is something I remind students and even pros I am coaching. As a voiceover actor, producers want you to make a strong choice and stick with it. Producers love to hire voice over actors who can deliver a read that’s even better than what they had in mind. This usually requires solid training, experience, versatility, and good instincts. The bottom line is even if you don’t get this one, the producer will remember you because you made a strong choice.
Get to the point: Producers and VO directors both have told me not to spend unnecessary time trying to socialize and chit-chat. It’s fine to do that a little, but they might have another 20 people to see after you, and it’s courteous to not waste any more time than is absolutely necessary. Say, “Hi, hope you’re well and thanks for letting me audition.” Then get to it.
Know your strengths and limitations: No voiceover actor I know of can do everything well. Some can get close, but for the most part, we all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Producers know this. So again, don’t waste their time auditioning, for example for a 6-year-old boy role if you can’t do it well. Just like in any other business, play to your strengths. And if you’re doing a demo reel, only put your best work on it. Now, if an agent, manager, or casting director asks you to read for something, even if you don’t think it’s your wheelhouse, I would give it a shot, if it’s something you want to do. Sometimes you are brought in because they know you are a good actor, and they want to hear what you can bring to it.
Be yourself: We often say, “Bring yourself to it.” That doesn’t mean that you might not change your voic or get into the character, if it’s more of a character piece, but the more truly authentic and real you are, the more attractive you’ll be to the listener. There’s going to be that person that hears some characteristic that appeals to them, whether it’s the tonality, the way you deliver, or how you inflect. No one else will bring what you bring to it. So have the freedom to tell it how you see it.
Kathy Grable is an L.A. voice-over prototype with a warmth and sincerity that reminds listeners of a close friend. You’ve heard her in animated shows like Tom & Jerry, Rocket Power, and Futurama and commercials for Pepsi, Disney, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, and as the Baskin-Robbins “Talking Spoon.” Kathy was also the voice double for Nicole Kidman in the hit film Batman Forever. On-camera, she’s been seen in Mike & Molly, Harry’s Law, Last Man Standing, and The Wedding Band on TBS. She’s a sought-after V/O coach, director, and demo producer. When not performing, Kathy co-owns and operates a company that distributes e-books, comics, audio dramas, and her own podcast, In My Voice, with guests from all aspects of the voiceover world. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or go to https://anchor.fm/kathy-grable0 for all the episodes.