Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Meet the Industry : Voice Actors

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

July 24, 2007

Comments (29)

Voice ActorsWhat is a voice actor?

Many people want to be one, others think they are one, and some people just plain don't know what they are!

Why do they exist and what do they do?

How do you become one?

Find answers to these questions and more at VOX Daily.

For many, becoming a voice actor is a dream come true.

While voice acting is a popular career field to consider at present, it is still a business and successful voice actors know that their career has everything to do with three specific factors:

1. Artistic Vocal Talent
2. Being Technically Savvy
3. Having Business Sense

As we mentioned earlier, a voice actor is the producer of the creative vocal work that is recorded and used for a variety of applications including commercials for radio, television, telephone, podcasts, audio books, video games and more. The voice actor uses their natural gifts, predominantly their voice and mastery of it, to infuse life into the written word.

A voice actor is a creator of voice overs, and a voice over is the audio component of a media application commissioned by a client. Voice actors are also known as voice talents, voice overs, voice over artists, VO, VA, narrators, announcers, orators, and so on.

Voice actors come from a variety of backgrounds including the theater, singing, public speaking, educating, film and other fields.

Who are voice actors?

They could be your next door neighbor, your favorite on-air personality, the person who volunteers to read for the blind, a children's storyteller at libraries or hospitals, a musician, or someone who reads at your church.

Voice actors come from all walks of life which makes this industry all the more interesting and eclectic.

As with any business, there are different areas that people can specialize in while using their signature voice, that is, the voice that brings home the bacon.

Some voice actors make money doing commercial reads while others are more at home reading epic poetry or character voices for video games. There is a job for every voice actor and voice type as each client is looking for something different.

A while ago, we covered how to make the transition from singer to voice talent, a popular article that recognized the connection between the two professions. As a singer, many of the tools and techniques developed as a result of the Bel Canto method are ready made for voice overs. Years of operatic training come full circle as diction, proper breathing, tonality, interpretation, and characterization skills are transferred to create a vocal masterpiece using the spoken word as the canvas.

Many come from the theater or from on-camera careers in television or film. Sometimes, even celebrities take on the art of voice acting, a phenomenon that started with Tom Hanks' voice acting in Toy Story way back in 1995 to the star studded celebrity voice acting films of the 21st century including Cars, Shrek, and Ratatouille.

Some people find their calling in voice over earlier than others while most discover voice acting later as they opt for a career change (something new) or desire to use skills acquired during their former career and apply them to an entrepreneurial dream of starting their own business.

Voice over is a field of study as well as a profession and instruction is available through individual coaching sessions, voice over workshops, books, podcasts, CDs and webinars, many of which are accessible regardless of location and are reasonably affordable when investing in your voice over business.

There are several designations that we can consider when identifying the professionalism of a voice actor.

Voice over instructor Connie Terwilliger has identified four basic phases that people go through as they mature in their voice over career.

These Four Basic Phases are:

• Wanna-be
• Newbie
• Part-time
• Full-time

To define them further, a Wanna-be is someone who has been told that they have a great voice and should use it to make money.

A Newbie has taken a couple of seminars, has an idea of the direction they want to go in, simple technical abilities, and a low cost home recording studio.

A Part-time voice talent still works a day job to pay the bills, is more educated in voice overs than a Newbie and has the ability to record pro quality audio.

Lastly, a Full-time voice over talent is actively working in the business and can pay their bills in voice over or a very closely related area.

Obviously, it is the goal of any voice actor to achieve the fourth phase and work at their business full-time.

That being said, in order to get to this stage, you need to possess a solid balance of artistry, technical abilities and business skills.

While it's easy to identify your strengths you also need to know where your weaknesses may be in order to succeed in voice overs.

The floor is now yours: Can you relate to anything written in this article?

Add a comment with your thoughts!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

Related Topics: Celebrities, Celebrity, child, Disney, how to, industry, Pixar, portfolio, radio, Shrek, videogames


Comments


    Great article Stephanie!

    I always thought I was a newbie or wanna-be, but was thrilled to find out I am officially a part-time voice actor. I just got my first job through Voices.com and am well on my way to the coveted fourth phase. Hooray!

    One thing I've learned on my way up is just what you mentioned.

    "There is a job for every voice actor and voice type as each client is looking for something different."

    It's hard not to take it personally when you've given your heart and soul to an audition... you may have nailed it, but the client may have a whole different sound in mind. Someone IS looking for YOUR voice. Just keep submitting those auditions! It will pay off.

    Posted by:

      Hi Jamee,

      Congratulations! If you like, we can post your success to the Buzz blog located here.

      http://blogs.voices.com/buzz

      Just let me know :)

      Take care,

      Stephanie

      Posted by:

        I loved the article Stephanie.

        I particularly related to the comments from Connie about the four phases of a vo artist. I am a bit of a newbie but mostly in the part time phase. My aim in the next six to twelve months is to be full time. have done my business plan and got other stuff underway to make it happen.

        Regards,

        Trish

        Posted by:

          Great article Stephanie. I do this part time, and looking to do it full time in a few years. I have a lot of work and learning to do though. Thanks again for the informative article.

          Bruce

          Posted by:
          • Bruce
          • August 6, 2010 12:45 AM

            I want to be a voice actor. Many told that i've got a great voice cuz i could change from a young teen girl voice to a toddler voice. I want to make good use of it to earn money, but i don't know where can i find a job like this. Any recco?

            Posted by:
            • Shiya
            • August 4, 2011 5:29 AM

              Thanks so much for this site! Awesome article. I retired from a radio show for 6 years, and my radio instructor from radio college made me a radio station that I get to be the morning chick on. I love voicing more than anything in the world, and am a part-time actor. I sell cars, Honda's, during the day. Now that I've been given my confidence back with this radio thing and perhaps I can transition to making a full time income as a full time actor. All things are possible. That's what my show is called, Colleen Valentine and the Power of Positive. Good day everyone, I hope everyone gets matched up with clients that want the perfect voice.

              Posted by:
              • Colleen Valentine Gazdewich
              • August 10, 2012 8:53 AM

                This is so helpful. I may only be a wannabe but it's good to know all the many years of bel canto training may actually come in handy now!!!

                Posted by:
                • Tracy Shea
                • September 12, 2012 8:42 PM

                  I"m definately a wanna-be. My close friend keeps telling me to try voice over because I make her laugh. I'm just being goofey. I'm here to see if I have what it takes.

                  Posted by:
                  • Scott
                  • December 3, 2012 1:36 PM

                    What a great article, I felt a little like you we're talking to me specifically. I have been in sales for 10 years and I'm ready to start my second act. I've always been told I have a great voice, and that's why I chose a career in sales over the phone. But now I'm ready to start learning a trade and make my hidden talent blossom into something that can translate into my own business someday.

                    Thank you for your support so far!

                    Posted by:
                    • Eric
                    • December 5, 2012 1:06 PM

                      Hi stephanie

                      The article was really help and now I know that I am a newbie.

                      I am very much interested being a voice artist.

                      Will I be able to acquire work being in India

                      Tanaya


                      Posted by:
                      • Tanaya Bhurkay
                      • January 15, 2013 1:12 PM

                        Dear Stephanie,

                        I am pleased to meet the industry! I guess I am a Wanna-be although I have been a volunteer public reader for over 32 years. During the last eight years, people have said to me I have an excellent reading voice of "broadcast quality" like that of a radio announcer.

                        I have been given some contacts of people who can get me "in the door" so to speak, but I haven't had the capital needed to put together a decent demo. I looked at the cost of going to school with some other voice-over training institutions and they are all way out of my financial reach.

                        Later when read about how easy it is to create a home studio, obtain the right hardware and mixing software and the associated costs with starting one's own business venture in this profession, reading your article and reading the comments of people like me was just the right encouragement I needed to start my journey as a PAID voice over artist! Thank you again for your encouragement!

                        Best,

                        Raymond

                        Posted by:
                        • Raymond De Clue
                        • February 3, 2013 3:12 PM

                          Good article Stephanie! As many others mentioned, people have been telling me for years to try and break into this field. I sang professionally for many a year and now and then break out my "Radio announcer voice" just to mess with people, but now I've considered trying to do it for real.
                          I'm not saying I'm ready to take a morning show shot yet, but if given an idea what a customer wants, I can manipulate my voice for different characters and schemes and maybe, just maybe, give them what they want.
                          Onward!!

                          Posted by:
                          • Doc
                          • February 7, 2013 10:05 AM

                            Great article! I believe I am closer to part-time than to a newbie. My short term goal is to become a more consistent part-timer. Your site is awesome and I am working to take full advantage of it. Some of my friends have seen my page and have been full of compliments! Thanks and I look forward to reading more articles!!

                            Gratefully Yours,
                            Donald

                            Posted by:
                            • Donald Walker
                            • March 21, 2013 12:49 PM

                              Wow!! it was fantastic, now at-least I have steps and goals to achieve.
                              Before this article, I was moving directionless......
                              I am a "newbie" with some positive responses,
                              I'm working hard..... but if you help me to know how can I approach
                              the Market, that will be a great favor.
                              Looking forward to more great article
                              Thanks a lot
                              Dear Stephanie

                              Meghansh Thapa (India)

                              Posted by:
                              • Meghansh Thapa
                              • March 31, 2013 9:20 AM

                                Hello Stephanie,

                                Thank you for the enlightening article. I am a wannabe and want to definitely move to the fourth phase of a full-time voice talent. I like your definition of who a voice actor is, one of them listed as simply someone who reads in church, for I am one of them.

                                For many years while reading at church I got praise and a lot of admiration from the the parishioners for my voice and I hoped that one day someone would discover me...all this time not knowing there was something such voice talent.

                                Also what is great is that there is a job for everyone in this industry seeing as it is so vast .

                                I am hopeful that I definitely made a step in the right direction by signing up to your website for I will be able to get material and expertise to further boost my career.

                                I think I know what my voice is good for which is for narrations and documentaries but while mastering the artistry I could discover that I can venture into audiobooks for example.

                                I like this website. Thank you.

                                Anne-Marie (Kenya)

                                Posted by:
                                • Anne-Marie
                                • May 26, 2013 2:47 AM

                                  Hi Anne-Marie,

                                  Thank you for sharing! I'm glad that you found this post and were affirmed by it. Keep me posted on your progress. I would love to hear about your journey.

                                  With warm regards,
                                  Stephanie

                                  Posted by:

                                    Hi Stephanie,

                                    I'm having a hard time figuring out where I am in this process. I have my degree in mass comm and have been working in radio for the last 11 years in various capacities, but mostly in voice talent and commercials. I've been told by others in my field that I should consider branching out (I currently work in a small market). I'm not looking to be rich and famous - just make a living out of doing something I love. So I guess part-time (local) looking to be slightly more part-time to include my "own" business? Either way, this site is very encouraging for someone who is looking to step into the "big kids' pool."

                                    Thanks!
                                    Amy

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Amy
                                    • July 9, 2013 2:20 PM

                                      Thanks for the well written, and well thought out article.

                                      Posted by:
                                      • Emma Lewis
                                      • August 9, 2013 9:11 AM

                                        Thanks for the informative e-mail. I'm impressed with the website and the quality of the information. I'm looking forward to working with all of the people that make Voices. com the great opportunity it is. I had some radio broadcast experience when I was young, and after retiring from a thirty year career as a firefighter, I decided to look into an at home job that I could use my electronics skills, and my voice. I'm already actively seeking a voice coach, and signed up for the webinars. Your informative e-mail helped me decide to give it a go and hopefully it will lead to a long term association that will benefit us all. Thanks.
                                        Greg Ericsson
                                        Ericsson Services

                                        Posted by:
                                        • Greg
                                        • November 18, 2013 2:16 AM

                                          Hi, a wannabe here!
                                          Like some of the posters, I find people constantly telling me I should try to do some work with my voice.
                                          Finally, I've given in. I do know the process is long and hard, but I rely on your support to pursue my goal.

                                          Great Article
                                          Manuel
                                          Santo Domingo
                                          Dominican Republic

                                          Posted by:
                                          • Manuel
                                          • November 19, 2013 11:06 AM

                                            Hi,
                                            I guess I'm a voice actor newbie! I'm currently practicing public speaking and interpretive reading and I volunteer at a hospital telling children stories. I also record my voice at home and upload sound files to my website.
                                            The things you learn about yourself are endless.
                                            Thanks for the article!

                                            Posted by:

                                              Dear Stephanie

                                              Excellent article. A lot of people told me I have a great voice and I should use it. I want to do voice acting for cartoons and video games. I mostly want to work with Warner Bros. because a lot of my favorite voice actors work there. Also I'm good with character impressions of Bugs Bunny, Green Lantern, Static Shock, Mr Freeze, and Batman (Terry Mcginnis). I consider myself a newbie and I'm starting off with acting classes when I enter college. I really want to fulfill this career because it looks awesome and I would love to act like an animated character.

                                              Posted by:
                                              • Jonathan
                                              • February 4, 2014 10:22 PM

                                                I am a proud wanna-be. I'm changing careers at age 51, back in school and getting a lot of support from my instructors and classmates to use my voice as a professional tool. We're on spring break at the moment (3/16) but once I get back I intend to get in our recording studio and create a couple of MP3s, post them to Voices.com and see where it takes me. See ya' soon

                                                Posted by:
                                                • Andrew Cavett
                                                • March 16, 2014 7:10 PM

                                                  I fall into the New-be category. ... for now that is. Thanks for the information, I enjoyed the read.

                                                  Posted by:
                                                  • Sonja
                                                  • March 25, 2014 7:51 PM

                                                    Hi Stephanie,
                                                    Thank you for the enlightening,
                                                    I'm definitely a wanna-be. After been an Executive assistant and Office Manager in a Language Center for the last 14 years, I decided to take a turn. I've been told that I can use my French accent as voice over talent, so here I am! ;)
                                                    PS:If you have any advise or tip. I'm a taker. Thanks.

                                                    Posted by:
                                                    • Emilia
                                                    • April 4, 2014 6:09 PM

                                                      Good morning Stephanie,

                                                      After reading your informative article, I came to realize that I would be considered a "wanna-be" voice over talent. I have been a member of Voices.com in the past, yet have no known way to record auditions, in an environment of quiet, such as a recording studio.

                                                      Would most entities looking for this service be interested in hearing auditions with an occasional backround noise such as birds chirping? I would not want to waste their time with that type of recording.

                                                      Posted by:
                                                      • Charlie Shannon
                                                      • May 14, 2014 9:26 AM

                                                        I am excited at the prospect of becoming a voice actor within this burgeoning industry and putting my skills to the test while at the same time developing existing as well as new skills.

                                                        I think that just about all my life, for the most part, I've known that I have a knack for this sort of talent. I can't say how many a day and night I've brainstormed and tried to figure out where I might fit in in some sort of professional arena. I have a great feeling within myself and I have to say it feels significantly more pure than many other ventures or pseudo endeavors which I've tried to follow or make happen.

                                                        I've just created a guest account so I'm thinking I might just fall into the "wanna be" category. I know I've got to start somewhere. I hope to one day look back on this post to hopefully see how far I've progressed.

                                                        All smiles on the inside... I pray that I'll project smiles as well to the outside.

                                                        Posted by:
                                                        • Greg Lindsey
                                                        • June 29, 2014 2:53 PM

                                                          I don't really know where to place myself after reading this eye opener of an article. In my country though, I am among those that do voice overs for a living except it is not very well paying. It is somehow frustrating that you get to hear and see how voice overs pay well in some countries. I believe that if i really had an opportunity to expose my voice out there, I too would use my voice to achieve great things. I feel I have a voice that is able to 'bring home the bacon' just to borrow your words.

                                                          Thanks a lot and thanks for opening my eyes.

                                                          Posted by:
                                                          • malumba malumba
                                                          • July 5, 2014 7:13 PM

                                                            Thank you for the article. I am one of those, "you've got an awesome speaking voice!" One lady told me that she could sit and listen to me read the phone book! I, of course was flattered and thought...ya know...I really should capitalize on this. I WANT, so very much to do something in my life that I would have FUN doing, AND make some $$$ at the same time. Why not?! Having now done my research, I do see that it is MUCH more than just having a great voice that people enjoy. So I move forward, slowly at first as my finances are such that I can't afford all of the equipment needed to start, but I continue to practice reading and recording on Audacity on my PC. I am so excited at the prospect of doing this for a living! Having this website and others has made this beginning part of my journey make it all seem very feasible. ONWARDS and UPWARDS!

                                                            Posted by:
                                                            • Joe Johnson
                                                            • September 13, 2014 3:21 PM

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