First Steps to being a Voice-Over Talent

October 9, 2020 by Kathy Grable

The Greenhouse is pleased to welcome veteran voice-over actor and coach Kathy Grable to the Journal! Starting with this article, Kathy will be presenting a monthly column on everything you need to know to succeed as a professional voice-over actor. From auditioning, best practices, audio gear, home studios, and more, she will cover all the topics for both beginnings and experts alike.

Today’s landscape for all creative people has changed. You don’t have to look very far to understand why. For actors and voice-over talents, the Covid-19 restrictions may have changed the way we do business today, and perhaps permanently. Only time will tell. That said, the door into voice-over (V/O) is wide open right now for people willing to do the hard work and invest some time and money. To be honest, voice-over never stopped. It helped create and fix commercials and amped up animation when production had come to a virtual standstill. As you get started or dive in deeper, here are some basics you’ll need to know….

Whether you’re a seasoned announcer, DJ, actor, a film/TV editor, or someone who believes you have a great voice, the same rules apply. First and foremost, understand this niche part of the media world. A friend once told me his father gave him some advice as he began looking for a career. “If you want to be a fireman, talk to a fireman; if you want to be an attorney, talk to an attorney.” And the same goes for voice acting. Talk to someone who does it for a living. Ask basic questions. Find out how they make money and get their work in front of casting directors, agents for representation, or ad agencies. If you ask a dozen of us V/O professionals, you’ll get different answers, but a few things will remain constant — they worked hard and learned their craft. Ask V/O actors who are currently doing it, as well as casting directors. 

Secondly, take classes, locally or online. Good V/O workshops are out there right now for everyone from state-to-state via Zoom. It is an opportunity that we haven’t seen in the past. West Coast can meet and take classes via teleconferencing from East Coast classes and visa-versa, or even while sheltering in another state. While there are some good free resources, there are a lot of people who say they know what they are talking about, but who actually may not. It’s fun to do research with the internet, but make sure you’re getting real info and training from people who are in the know. It’s a very giving and fun community. Do your research, like in any business.

Third, get a professionally produced demo. It’s a one-minute snippet, a “demonstration” of what you can do with real copy. It’s not cheap, but if you want to be in the game, invest in that first. It’s your business card and shows you know the profession as your work lands before casting directors and agents. 

Fourth, be able to back up your demo! Make sure you can back up your demo with consistent reads, while being able to adjust to nuances given by a director, as well as being able to self-direct. Even if you are a current V/O actor, it helps you keep up with the times and the transitions we are all going through — stay current!  

And last, consider setting up a home studio. I say this with one provision: learn all you can about the industry first! And if you enjoy it, really think you can do this, and want to audition and book jobs, spend time setting up an in-home studio, but first explore and consider if it’s something you really want to do. 

In the coming months, I’ll speak to the different genres of voiceover, and creating a home studio with a plan and budget in mind — what to buy into, online or through a rep, so you can adjust as your career grows. Until then, use your voice to speak truth, motivate, and inspire — it’s one of the most powerful tools you’ll ever have. 

Kathy Grable

Kathy Grable

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.

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