Making Strong Choices as a Voiceover Actor

April 16, 2021 by Kathy Grable

In previous columns, I’ve written a lot about the logistics of doing voiceover. From ways to get the best sound from your voice and your mic to what kind of V/O jobs are even available to you. This month I’d like to focus on the simple yet powerful choices you make before every audition or job that can make all the difference.

So let’s break it down. You’ve gotten your piece of copy for an audition and your agent would like your audition recording ASAP.

Once you’ve read the copy, the first and most important thing is to make an attitude choice. Have a point of view. Don’t worry about if it’s the right choice or what the intended marketing group is. That’s not your job. That’s for the marketing people. You are an actor, and your job is to express and communicate. They want your take on things.  No one else can do that like you do. That’s one of the things that is so great about acting. And it is the single-most important thing you can do. Inside scoop… most actors just read the copy. You might say, “Well yeah.” But by choosing a strong attitude that is your take on things, you are heads and tails above most actors who are auditioning. And by doing this, it will sound like you are in a scene and are talking just to me, the listener.

The second important factor to consider is “Who are you talking to?” If you’ve studied with me, you will hear me ask you this question over and over. And believe me, I have to remind myself of this key factor right here as well. It’s more important than why you’re talking to your audience or even how you’re talking to them, because it all begins with who you’re talking to. Who makes up your audience? Is she a 30-something, bedraggled mother of two energetic kids who’s just found 15 minutes of quiet in her bathroom? Is it the sweet, old lady next door who just baked you a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, and you can’t bring yourself to tell her that you hate oatmeal raisin cookies? Or is it a frustrated CEO of a major electronics company who can’t seem to find good people to fill all his job openings?

Again, know who you are talking to. It’s a very common technique that people in all aspects of the audio/voice world use. I know a very successful disc jockey who once remarked that he keeps a picture of his average listener right next to his microphone so he never forgets. He’s not talking to his friends or his parents; in his case, he’s talking to a 35-year-old mom who’s trying to balance work, life, healthy eating, kids’ schedules, and more. It keeps him focused. And be sure it’s someone you know. If you make it specific, we will hear that in your read, and it will sound like you are talking just to us.

Lastly, always talk to an audience of one! Personalize it! It makes a major difference on how you “connect” with the audience. So, if you can picture a single individual, we will hear it. Remember, be specific and make the strongest choice. And know that in choosing an audience, it can also be talking to yourself. This is a strong choice for many actors, especially when you want a more intimate proximity and read.

Think about it. A casting director, I’ve been told, can hear anywhere from 50 to 200 voices and up for one role. And even if it’s a smaller pool, most actors tend to emphasize the same phrases and use the same punctuation. So, when you make a strong attitude choice, know who you are talking to, and make it an audience of one, we hear it in your voice and it draws us in. It’s the strongest choice.

And strong choices win jobs.

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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