Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

How Old is Too Old For Voice Over?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

April 5, 2010

Comments (40)

Senior coupleCan you ever be too old to get started in voice acting?

How old is too old?

Are there any limitations that age may impose upon someone who wants to use their skills as a professional voice over artist?

Hear the concerns of one of our senior voices here at Voices.com and share your thoughts in today's VOX Daily.

How Old is Too Old?

Contributed by a Broadcast Veteran

I've been a news broadcaster for 40 years now in both radio and television... from small market to the network level. During those years I have dabbled in voice overs and have done on camera work on the side.

A couple of years ago I decided to get more involved in voice over work. I have a home studio now with professional quality gear and an announce booth. Although I haven't made a big marketing push yet I have been getting gigs here and there.

What I want to ask you all is:

How old is too old for voice over?

I am now 65 years old and have this little voice in my head nagging me with questions such as:

๏ "Hey, aren't you too old to get into the voice over game?"
๏ "If people figure out my age, will they ignore my auditions?"
๏ "Should I try to keep my age under wraps at all costs?"
๏ "Could my age actually be a plus in certain voice over niches?"

I would love to know whether other voice actors share these concerns, and if so, what they've done about them.

Any Comments?

What do you think? Is it ever too late to get into voice overs? What factor or factors does age play in determining if you should consider a career in voice acting?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/pjjones

Related Topics: acting, booth, broadcasters, radio, senior citizens, voice, voice talent, voices, Voices.com


Comments


    I am replying to "How old is too old for voice over?" I dont think that there is an age that is too old for voice over. As long as the person has a distinctive voice/character and is able to perform what does age have to do with it? There are all types of voices in real life and this voice actor will represent someone out there in the real world. Keep it up and you will be an inspiration to everyone.

    Posted by:
    • melissa covarrubias
    • April 5, 2010 4:01 PM

      I think most voiceover websites do not include a photo of the voice talent. The result is listeners will not have a preconceived notion as to the age of the voice talent. Age in the voiceover marketplace should not be discriminated against because it is too old or too young. Find your niche market and go for it!

      I am amazed at how the voice can stand the test of time. In fact, my last two blog posts have started off paying tribute to some veteran sports voices:
      1) Sportscaster Dick Enberg had a 50-year run doing March Madness basketball games on TV
      2) Mike 'Doc' Emrick called his 3, 000th pro hockey game

      Best,
      Ralph Hass
      http://HasTheVoice.blogspot.com

      Posted by:

        Two weeks before his death at age 79, Patrick Allen was still working. They want the young sound? He was given the regular job as promo voice for British TV channel E4 which is a channel targeted at young people.

        I'm 50 and every year things get better and better. VO work seems to suit this old git very well

        Posted by:

          One of the major reasons I am excited about the voice over business is the potential to continue working as long as I wish beyond the typical retirement age. There seems to be plenty of opportunity for a talent of any age, and experience just keeps increasing as we continue in the business.

          Posted by:
          • Ken Budka
          • April 6, 2010 9:08 AM

            Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of "Tony the Tiger", "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", and countless other productions... was working well into his late 80's.

            No reason to stop as long as you can face the microphone and deliver!

            More on Thurl here:
            http://www.allthingsthurl.com/biography.htm

            Posted by:

              The romanticism of Radio is that one can listen to any voice and visualize any image of their choice!
              For as long as there are senior citizens in this world, there'll always be a need for senior (or senior sounding) Voice Over artists.

              Posted by:
              • Temba
              • April 6, 2010 10:47 AM

                I am 55 I however have a young voice, and still do childern and young poeple and long may it continure. I think one is never too old

                Posted by:
                • Carol
                • April 6, 2010 11:31 AM

                  I have never used a photo to "define" my brand. And after 30+ years in this biz, I am still hired for "young adult" vos as well as middle age. My husband and I met doing commercials together in 1982. He can do 101 character voices, and he's so looking forward to doing vos full-time when he retires! My favorite female voice right now is the voice of Liberty Mutual. She sounds like a woman of a certain age, but velvety smooth--what a voice! Something I can aspire to.....and I practice with her whenever that TV spot plays....
                  cheesy? You bet. :-D

                  Posted by:

                    I dunno...ask Peter Thomas of Forensic Files (85) Charlie Odonnel of Wheel of Fortune (77) Don Pardo SNL (92) Johnny Gilbert of Jeopardy (85) or Don Morrow (83). I think "old age" begins when you stop learning. So my advice to "Broadcast Veteran" go for it!!! But what do I know? I am a 19 year old (reading at a 45 year old level)

                    Posted by:

                      Is there such a thing as being too old for voice over? Some older people have a problem pronouncing some words because they have a shakiness to their voice others sound a little slurry at times... but not everyone is like that. I say, if your pronunciation and sound is good go for it without a doubt, no matter how old you are.

                      At 43, I'm not planning to ever give up so I might have a good 40 years in me yet. Who knows?

                      Posted by:
                      • Pearl Hewitt
                      • April 6, 2010 12:19 PM

                        I started at 47 - 12 years ago! And I feel I've done pretty well for myself. I am so happy I had the courage to put the "numbers" aside and go for it. What a great life I now have!!!

                        Posted by:
                        • Penny Abshire
                        • April 6, 2010 12:19 PM

                          Penny your story is inspiring!

                          Posted by:
                          • David Tooch
                          • April 6, 2010 12:20 PM

                            Too old for V.O.? Ain't no such thing. ;)

                            Posted by:
                            • Neil Kaplan
                            • April 6, 2010 12:21 PM

                              Voices are timeless. With every sunset, there's a sunrise along with seasoned professionals who create a need to lift the copy off the page and bring it to life in a conversational manner.

                              Posted by:
                              • Robert Kelleher
                              • April 6, 2010 12:22 PM

                                Peter Thomas, voice of TV's Forensic Files, will be 86 in June and at last report, he's still going strong.

                                Posted by:

                                  Stephanie, the only correct answer for that question is: "When they plant you in the ground." Like Robert said, voices are timeless - no matter what the age.

                                  Posted by:

                                    When you can't see the copy?

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Rick Marcil
                                    • April 6, 2010 12:23 PM

                                      Never!

                                      Posted by:

                                        Too old to remember your lines.

                                        Posted by:
                                        • Fred Symington
                                        • April 6, 2010 12:30 PM

                                          47 and looking. Check my site. http://www.Youtube.com/woodallaj

                                          Posted by:
                                          • A.J. Woodall
                                          • April 6, 2010 12:36 PM

                                            What's too old? Age has nothing to do with it. Don't listen to the negative voices.

                                            Posted by:
                                            • David Overly
                                            • April 6, 2010 12:37 PM

                                              50 and going strong....been at this for over a decade! Check me out at http://www.voices.com/people/MargaretTisone =)

                                              Posted by:

                                                Like a good wine…Voice acting gets better with time and the wisdom and natural flow of our speech ripens as we age. Unique voices come forth and credibility grows on the voiceover vine.

                                                Posted by:

                                                  You are never too old!

                                                  Clint Eastwood turns 80 in May!
                                                  Jane Fonda is 72.
                                                  President George Bush parachuted out of an airplane on both his 80th and 85th birthday.
                                                  George Beverly Shea is 101 and still selling records.
                                                  Kirk Douglas is 94.
                                                  Lena Horne and Phyllis Diller are both 93.
                                                  Former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop is 94 and still appears on "Life Alert" commercials.
                                                  William Shatner is 79 and still doing "Priceline" travel commercials. Captain Kirk is now on the TV show Boston Legal.
                                                  Art Linkletter is 98. He was a personal friend of Walt Disney and Art is still writing books. He is a member of the Premier Speakers Bureau. Art Linkletter was abandoned as an infant, adopted and raised by a preacher. He first showed his entrepreneurial spirit by sorting through discarded lemons at a local fruit-packing plant, picking the least-obviously rotten fruit, and selling it door-to-door.

                                                  Jack Lalanne is 96 and still selling his juicer's on infomercials.

                                                  Jack La Lanne was a juvenile delinquent, once attacking his brother with an axe, and setting his family's house on fire. In adulthood, he blamed his youthful misbehavior on being fed too many high-sugar foods. At 15, his mother dragged him to hear a speech by nutritionist Paul Bragg. Inspired, La Lanne reformed his eating habits, eliminating everything made with white flour or white sugar, and instead ate almost nothing but fruits, vegetables, and fish for the rest of his life. Healthy foods were hard to find, so La Lanne concocted his own recipes, and by the age of 18 he owned a health-food bakery.

                                                  So 65 too old? Not really, you've got another 30 or more years to go.

                                                  Dave

                                                  Posted by:
                                                  • David Henning
                                                  • April 6, 2010 1:00 PM

                                                    As a 74 year old I learned about 20 years ago that, if you can still sound younger (which I can within reason..which is about 30 years of range), it is never a good idea to use a picture on sites or promotional CD's or other material. We can't blame the people who make casting decisions for pre judging based on pictures or age knowledge. I'd be guilty of this despite what I know or think I know.

                                                    As with stage work, which is harder to come by these days because there are fewer roles requiring 70 plus, it's good to remember that it's easier to add age with make up and "acting" than it is to remove age. As a 30 year old I played 60 plus all the time voice and on stage. That doesn't work going back the other way.

                                                    Work with what you have and are but don't paint yourself with a silver brush.

                                                    Jim Beasley

                                                    Posted by:
                                                    • Jim Beasley
                                                    • April 6, 2010 1:01 PM

                                                      I'm not going to be the one to tell Donald Sutherland and Morgan Freeman they're too old to do voice work!

                                                      Posted by:

                                                        This is refreshing and encouraging to see that age plays little bearing. I don't currently do VO work, but am interested in exploring it as an opportunity going forward. Retirement gig?

                                                        Posted by:
                                                        • Scott Thomson
                                                        • April 6, 2010 1:28 PM

                                                          Hi Stephanie:

                                                          I'm not worried about whether or not there's a time when you're too old for Voice Over work. And I'm 5 years older than "the dude" who is the subject of your blog today. Those are only chronological years. We have to ask "how young is my attitude?"

                                                          I understand his feelings. It's natural to wonder if "ageism" negatively impacts one's chances of working regularly in Voice Over. Because ageism, like all prejudices, does exist, it may restrict work for us, a little.

                                                          In my experience, however, we still have significant control. Success still comes largely from how one builds relationships with directors, producers, clients (direct or agency). Relationships play a huge part determining how busy you might be. And aren't relationships the ground upon which almost everything in life is based? The good ones flourish. The not-so-good, not-so-much.

                                                          With Boomers doing their inevitable "pig-through-the-python" advance on time with the resulting impact on culture and consumption, I firmly believe healthy older persons who have an open mind and their chops will do pretty darn well at anything, including Voice Over. Moses Znaimer's marketing the phenomenon as Zoomerism. I think he's right. I think it means opportunity for us will continue.

                                                          Our responsibility is to keep healthy, stay relevant, audition-audition-audition (practice sometimes is worth more than the gig), pursue chances to learn from others who have proved themselves and join platforms like Voices.com.

                                                          David's blog yesterday about the iPad and the record, edit and mix-at-home-or-wherever possibilities it has suggests spending a lot of money on fancy in-home studios may not be as necessary as it was not that long ago. It's also much easier to control the ambient sound environment. The expensive technical barrier is gone.

                                                          Whatever, other than the teen angst roles most animation projects seem to cast, or those gigs that will always target "kids" (some advertisers can't help themselves) plus the wider need for the human voice to carry messages over the ever growing array of electronic media, the majority of the new work coming will include lots of stuff stuff for the "other dude", me and many others like us. The words still have to come off the page right. Talent helps, of course, but there's just no substitute for experience in learning how to get those words off said page.

                                                          Marice Tobias, acclaimed voice coach (Voice Whisperer?) recently told me several of the top regularly working VOs in New York are 75-85 years old. So there's hope for us kids yet.

                                                          Mike Hanson

                                                          Posted by:
                                                          • Mike Hanson
                                                          • April 6, 2010 1:30 PM

                                                            I take pride in voicing spots that kids can't.
                                                            - Signed
                                                            Methusalah (5979 years and going strong)

                                                            Posted by:

                                                              A voice, like fine wine, gets better with age.

                                                              Posted by:
                                                              • Kate Bacon
                                                              • April 6, 2010 1:59 PM

                                                                My pal Don Morrow is in his 80's and still going strong. I've known Gary Owens for over 25 years and he's still at it. No matter how old you are if the pipes still work then so can you!

                                                                Posted by:
                                                                • Jay Coffey
                                                                • April 6, 2010 7:48 PM

                                                                  Since I refuse to age gracefully anyway, I think that the age limit for voice over performers should be set at 969 years of age...that was the age of Methuselah when he died and apparently he had LOTS to say!!

                                                                  Posted by:

                                                                    When you're dead.

                                                                    Posted by:
                                                                    • Scott Ganyo
                                                                    • April 6, 2010 10:13 PM

                                                                      The roles you play in voice acting may change with age. It has been said that variety is the spice of life. I believe that to be true. You may not be landing as many of those hip teen & Gen X,Y,Z VO's in your 60's but there is plenty of work available for someone who can do age 30's-60's sounds, roles, etc. And if you truly have an old sounding voice and limited delivery, remember it's all subjective. There are twice as many ears out there as there are voices.

                                                                      Unless your voice stops working altogether, there is always a role out there for you somewhere. You don't have to stop working your voice.

                                                                      What you may want to concern yourself with at your age are two things:

                                                                      1. The care and nurturing of your voice. Get plenty of rest and where the scarf in the winter. Avoid direct AC in the summer. (Don't let the car vent blow directly on sensitive tissues that can easily dry out. - Good advice at any age!) etc., etc.

                                                                      2. Stay abreast of current technology, in order to compete with younger competition.

                                                                      I hope this encourages you in your time of concern. One last thought.. A Hit is a Hit! and Oldies are Goodies!

                                                                      Posted by:

                                                                        I certainly hope not! I'm 68 and just completed my Master VO class awaiting my demos so to get started with using Voices.com as the primary portion of my marketing strategy. Heck, I can remember watching a show on black & white TV with my grandparents in the 1950's titled: Life begins at 80. I thought then it was "crazy" but today I reflect on it with a smile. You have a far superior background to mine in that you have a long career in broadcasting whereas I'm coming fresh from out of the woods with zero experience. I've only been told I have a great voice through the years and now decided to put it to the test. Personally, I think it's the voice [and one's ability to act] that counts - not the age. We are in an invisible profession where only the voice reigns. I was told recently in the Master VO class that my voice is deep, mellow and very strong. The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

                                                                        In response to your questions, I'd say go for it! What do you have to lose? In your case, much less than me!

                                                                        Well, I'm off to finish my in-home sound booth! Good luck with your decision making. I hope this response helps a little bit.

                                                                        Let me know how you make out. I'd be interested in knowing.

                                                                        Till later . . . Bill

                                                                        Posted by:
                                                                        • Bill Peck
                                                                        • April 7, 2010 10:56 AM

                                                                          Stephanie: Broadcast Veteran asks the age old question, "How old is too old?" First of all, let me tell him and you, of course, that we are on a level playing field. Like him, I just turned 65 this month, and the big difference between us that he's been in broadcasting for 40 years, gathering up all that experience and knowledge, whereas I allowed life to get in my way for almost fifty years since I left college radio, and did everything else other than following that little nagging voice which tried to pull me in the direction of using my head for something more than a hat rack. Sir, age is just a number, and if you let it rule your life, you'll disappoint yourself greatly by not plunging into the waters with the rest of us. We all have niches that we fit into, and we all can capitalize on them. Voicing as a vocation is unique, in that you don't have to rely on a head shot or a look to make it in this business. All you need is some talent, some training, some perseverance, and a little fire in your belly that gives you the impetus to get out there and display your wares. No one cares how old you are; the good news is that if you are auditioning or recording a project that requires a voice like yours, which may be that of a matured, wise, and experienced man, your age and persona actually validates it. Of course, if you have an inventory of other voices in your bag of tricks, you can apply them to other characterizations in your assignments if need be. I made the conscious decision when I retired five years ago to get into this business for a number of reasons. Number one, it ain't only girls that want to have fun, I want to have fun, too. I deprived myself for too long of joining the voice over community, and without looking back in regret, because regret is non-productive and stultifying, I am happily a member of the club. Sure, I haven't done a mountain of work, but I also want you to know that I have encountered a number of handicaps along the way, which required my attention. I have been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation, Rheumatoid Arthritis, an acute episode of Kidney Failure, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, PAD, Gout, and a heel spur. Not to mention a hernia you could drive a Mack Truck through. But I bless each day I wake up above the ground and am able to get vertical. I dealt with my physical problems and I still deal with some of them, but do I consider myself too old? Not a chance. I have entered the second half of my life, and I like to think I have a pretty good attitude about everything. I am not bragging about my approach to life, but I am trying to show you how you don't have to ask those burning questions because only you can dismiss them. True, we may have certain limitations on our energy levels, but you still have a lot left in you; you can never stop learning about what it takes to be successful, you just have to understand that it's not your age that will disqualify you from booking a job. A particular job may require a certain voice, and if that's what the producer or the client wants, you either have it or you don't.

                                                                          The second reason I got into this business is that I believe very strongly that I can contribute more to this crazy world of ours than the small amount I already have. When my grandfather retired from his profession as a housepainter at 65, he plunked himself down in front of the TV for the next twenty years and vegged out until he died. He was in vaudeville as a young man, a song and dance man, a comedian, and a musician. He could have gone back into show biz or something related to it, or done any number of things that he had genius for doing, but he complained that he was too old. What a wasted twenty years that was. He had so much more to lay on us, but he thought his life was over. Let me tell you, Mr. Broadcast Veteran, as Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." And if you let your age be a stumbling block, you are cutting yourself out of a life that could be filled with fun and satisfaction. And yes, even some profit. So don't depend upon doubts to run your life. This industry needs all kinds of voices, including yours. You can bring to this arena new perspectives, a collection of experiences, and something that our world needs and wants -- you and your voice.

                                                                          Posted by:
                                                                          • Jay
                                                                          • April 8, 2010 2:00 PM

                                                                            Too old?! As long as you have a pulse, you can do voice over. In fact, I would think the demand for your a mature timbre of voice would be very high. There are documentaries, animations, commercials, and audio books everywhere that need a more mature sound. Go out there and get those gigs!!

                                                                            Make it a great day!
                                                                            Chad Ketcher

                                                                            Posted by:
                                                                            • Chad Ketcher
                                                                            • April 8, 2010 2:01 PM

                                                                              Hi Stephanie,

                                                                              My own thinking on this is:

                                                                              * First-off, I'd prefer this gentlemen think of himself as 65 yrs young, not old.... and 65 is indeed plenty young.

                                                                              * The body ages but passion is timeless!! If he is passionate and believes he deserves a spot (or bigger) on the figurative voice-over map, then by all means he should go for it!

                                                                              * Having been in the broadcasting business I believe he is not far from having the skill credentials and experience to do quite well in the voice-over arena. Broadcasting and voice-over skills are not a complete match but there is quite a bit of overlap.

                                                                              * May God Bless him and his, and I look forward to hearing about him pulling-out on the voice-over highway and mashing-down on that throttle! (:=>

                                                                              - Daniel Goldman -
                                                                              Professional Voice-over Artist

                                                                              Posted by:
                                                                              • Daniel Goldman
                                                                              • April 9, 2010 11:14 AM

                                                                                Dear Stephanie---your recent Vox Daily from the Bdcst. Vet,age 65. prompts my response:  I first went on the air Christmas Day 1940 in Mississippi-
                                                                                Announced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,then radioed in Texas before moving to California for acting and V/O. More background  on my profile  but my Voice Overs helped elect Sen.Chuck Grassley, the Governors of Georgia and Louisiana in recent years.  Now I’m taking my little home studio to relaxing in Eugene, Ore. where I expect to keep busy (thanks to Voices.com) when I celebrate my 89th birthday in September. My slogan borrowed from George Burns:-“ Old, Young, -just words”
                                                                                Del Roy
                                                                                ---aka Methuselah

                                                                                Posted by:
                                                                                • Del Roy
                                                                                • April 10, 2010 7:42 PM

                                                                                  I believe no matter what your age, there will always be casting calls that meet your age. The work may just be from other companies...just as toys r us uses young sound voices, AARP would use older more mature voices.

                                                                                  There is a market for all age groups, which gives a voice talent the ability to stay in the game as long as they wish.

                                                                                  Posted by:

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