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Do Voice Over Pros Love Their Voices? The Answers May Surprise You!

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

June 17, 2010

Comments (13)

Sketch of a microphone and faceThis article was inspired by a comment posted a couple of days ago on the headphones article by Dan Roberts.

The idea was that by not wearing headphones you could thereby avoid or distance yourself from the possibility of "falling in love" with your own voice. I then wondered if this happened and what one might do to avoid it.

When this concept was posed to our Voices.com Facebook group, the responses started to pour in with people overwhelmingly stating that they did not love their own voices... in fact, some hated them!

Find out what was said in today's VOX Daily.

What Do Voice Actors Think of Their Own Voices?

Isn't it amazing how many differing perspectives and opinions are out there? Everyone has their own unique voice and each person sees their instrument in a different light.

Each voice artist also has their own opinion of their voice.

Some people:

๏ Strongly dislike their voice
๏ Feel indifferent so long as the client is happy
๏ Have a balanced perspective and appreciation for their voice
๏ Are fully embracing of their voice
๏ Love with their voice

Let's get the comments about demonstrating a strong dislike out of the way first.

Strong Dislike or Discomfort

People who feel this way about their voice may say things like this:

๏ I HATE my own voice!!!
๏ I have issues with my own voice hence the constant attempts to sound like someone (or something) else!
๏ I never like what I have done, and hate to hear it
๏ I really can't stand the sound of my voice!
๏ I am a radio producer and despise my voice! I have to pre-read everything at least 4 times before I can run through it. YUCK!

One voice over pro shared, "It isn't for nothing that I'm a believer of Debbie Munro's words: 'You don't have to love your voice. You just have to love what you can do with it.'"

Disliking Your Voice Can Make Editing a Nightmare

If you don't like the sound of your own voice, imagine then how painful it would be to edit your own voice and sift through mistakes, breathes, coughing and all that goes with the territory!

Here is a story from a gentleman who illustrates this well:

"After reading and editing 10 short scripts whilst smiling constantly (as it was an 'up, hard sell') I was sick to death of me!! I just wanted to lay in a dark room for half an hour and be happily miserable!!"

Playbacks, Too

One person shared that during a coaching session her teacher played back something she had just done, and upon hearing the playback the professional actually asked the coach to please stop, stating, "It was shocking and painful to me. I don't see me falling in love with my voice any time in the near future."

Along the same lines, someone said, "I just don't like my pronunciation. Like if I say underground I can say undergroun but the nd sounds way odd to me. But that just may be a tinge of that not liking my voice seeping in there. So it may be very true but I still love my voice."

Beauty is in the Ear of the Beholder

Of the 25+ respondents, some people mentioned that they were indifferent to their voice, neither loving it or disliking it citing that the client was the only person to whom it should matter.

One person said, "I only get to appreciate my own voice when I sound so much different than I normally would. And appreciation is still a far cry from loving it to bits but I do love how people would react to the sound of my voice, and that pretty much keeps me going."

Another shared, "I'm thankful for the reactions from others who tell me that my voice makes them feel comforted and reassured--so, I don't think I love the sound of my own voice, but rather I'm glad for what I can do with it. I also think that is why I try not to do things that I know others can do better with their voices."

Perhaps Lance Blair puts it best when he says, "I like my voice, and so do my clients. I'm a VOA because I know I have something to offer, I make no excuses for it."

Cherish Your Uniqueness

If all voices are different, and each voice is used well, we have much to celebrate! Check out this interesting perspective and see if it resonates with you as a person whose instrument is their voice:

"I love my voice and I always have. Why not? It's who I am. There's nothing wrong with that in my book. To me, hating your voice is like saying you hate your piano or you hate your paint brush. You may not always love what comes out of it, but like any other instrument if you practice, play with it and keep it in tune it will give you great rewards. Not every voice is a Steinway, but your 'Whurlitzer' voice is uniquely your own. Cherish your uniqueness."

- Elisha Anderson

Loving Your Voice...

Whenever you think of a voice actor, arrogance doesn't typically come to mind nor does narcissism, however, one can all too easily slip into becoming a diva or divo.

There were a few people who shared their thoughts, some more into their voices than others, one in particular saying:

"I actually love my voice. My demos even my ringtone."

To even out the scale, another woman shared that too much of a good thing, even voice over, can become tiresome.

Here's what she had to say, "I don't mind the sound of my own voice, unless I have been in the studio ALL DAY. The exception is a local 15 sec bumper I did that runs several times each morning during the news. When I hear it so much, it kind of makes me cringe. Now I know why my family sometimes gets tired of the sound of my voice."

... But Doing So in Moderation

Diane Havens shared a wonderful piece of advice, saying "I think the danger of being 'in love' (as in love for anything or anybody) is that it needs to be TRUE love, in that it doesn't lead you down the wrong path. Rather, genuine love brings out the best in a person -- and a voice. When infatuation with one's voice distracts from the meaning of a piece, thread of a story and authenticity of the character, it is a negative."

Three other talent were happy to add their thoughts about the fine line between arrogance and performance.

Avoiding Arrogance

"I love it when I can do a voice impromptu for the first time and nail it. I don't think it's good to be too cocky because I think the arrogance would translate in the voiceover. Just my opinion."

"It's nice when people tell me they like something I've done, we have to be so many voices, and arrogance would show if we loved our voice and we only use that one. It's a job we do it get paid, however I do enjoy the work."

Michael Gregorash added, "I think what could end up happening (by falling in love with your voice) is that you could lose sight of the work. When we have a job, we're given a direction and a tone in which to take it (sometimes with some license to 'make it our own' but that not often the case). If we 'fall in love' with our voices, we might end up taking the work in a direction that ends up taking us out of that job."

Help! I've Become the Voices in My Head!

Rajiv Hasan quipped, "I'm not entirely sure I have a voice of my own, as other peoples' voices tend to inhabit my head most of the time. Recent residents have included David Beckham, Jose Mourinho, an Indian Aunt and, naturally, Homer Simpson (who appears to be a permanent squatter.)"

Someone else said that they sometimes get bored of hearing their own voice and that they use a character impression or accent to make themselves more palatable.

Others still do characters so well that they can't even recognize their own voice.

What If The Grass is Greener on the Other Side?

Paul Hernandez saw this topic from an entirely different angle. His comment may resonate with you and I am posting it in full.

Paul exclaimed, "Maybe in addition to what Stephanie said, it's the grass is always greener scenario. I spoke with a voice actor who has great action movie trailer type of voice and I said, 'Man, I wish I could do that.' He responded with 'I wish I could do your guy next door voice.' So I guess be content with what God gave you and find your niche."

Conclusion

Someone wondered how James Earl Jones feels about his voice? While I can't speak for Mr. Jones, it is possible that he feels and has felt any or all of these emotions over the course of his career.

Regardless of your success, we all feel and have insecurities and things we're grateful for regarding our voices... maintaining a healthy perception of your voice, whether you see it as simply a tool that makes others happy or an instrument that brings you joy is the primary objective when building a career in this business that will endure.

How Do You Feel About Your Voice?

If you enjoyed this article or would like to comment with your own thoughts pertaining to your voice, I'd love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Antonis Papantoniou

Related Topics: Accent, appreciation, opinions, radio, voice, voice actors, voice over, voiceovers, Voices.com


Comments


    Back in the 80's & 90's, I used to say to my announcers "there's nothing wrong with a healthy ego, so long as it's under control" ! I figure the same applies to a voice over artist, where creativity, light, shade, timing & audio expression are vital ingredients for the unseen audience.

    Any voice, over exposed can be grating, particularly for me, as I tend to get bored fairly easily. Do I love my own voice ? Not very often. Do I like my own voice ? In voice over terms, probably 80% of the time, as I KNOW the perfectionist in me says I can always do better, perhaps on another day, perhaps with a producer who you feel comfortable working with, perhaps with a different mindset.

    God gave us the basic gift of voice, it's up to us to take care of it, be grateful for it, nurture it and give the client the best we can produce on the day.

    Regards,
    IAN in Oz.

    Posted by:
    • Ian in Oz
    • June 18, 2010 3:29 AM

      The only time I can tolerate the sound of my voice is when the production is finished. If I did a good job, I could listen to the piece a thousand times and never tire of it. Until then, my voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me. No wonder I hate editing so much! It also makes practicing very difficult.

      Posted by:
      • steve hammill
      • June 18, 2010 11:54 AM

        I wouldn't be in this business if I didn't like the sound of my voice. How would I be confident that anyone else would like it, then? I may not be the voice for every situation, but I like to think that I could be. I might start with my signature voice, but move past that quickly, if I think it's not working, and come up with something appropriate.The voice MUST fit the situation, for it is the product or service being sold that's important. The voice is merely a tool to get the end result.

        Best Regards,
        Martin Victor

        Posted by:

          I actually hate hearing my normal speaking voice. I tend to be very laid back, and my voice can be flat. Yuck! I don't know why this is. I'm sure I could lay on a couch and pay someone a lot of money to give me some kind of explanation. It's just how it is, and to bring anything else out would be acting (not being myself).

          That said, the voice is an instrument and I am very happy that I know how to play that instrument pretty well! While my low-key daily voice may not be ripe for playback, I'm satisfied with my 'professional voice.' Of course there's always room for improvement, which is what coaching is for.

          Geez. Reading that again, maybe I do need therapy!

          Posted by:

            I see my voice as a good friend. Available when I need it, dependable to deliver at a moment's notice, warm and comforting, and mostly predictable. However, like a good friend, it is capable of turning on me in the worst way possible when I abuse it or have taken it for granted.

            I have a voice-crush on my voice. Strange.

            Ciao.
            -JCD-

            Posted by:

              Thanks for doing this Stephanie, I too am neutral bout my voice. I don't love voice acting because of my voice, I do it because each and every time in the booth I get swept away in the story's narrative. And yes even if it is only a 30 sec spot or a medical narration every script has an untold story... it is the voice artist's job to find it.

              Posted by:
              • Stephen Stoutenburg
              • June 18, 2010 5:00 PM

                I don't see how Charlize Theron could have played her role in "Monster" if she had been in love with the way she looks. Actors usually have plenty to love about their looks, but they're willing to look bad for the sake of the role.

                Models are paid to look good. Actors are paid to inhabit a persona, to make a script come to life. I guess the question is, Are you an actor or a model?

                Posted by:

                  I was thinking that myself, Dan! A real actress cares more about the role than being "pretty" all the time. To love the music more than the instrument. Ben Franklin said, "He who is in love with himself will have no rivals."

                  Posted by:

                    I think I've got a love-hate relationship with my voice. It depends on the day. Over all, though, I've learned to love it because it has provided me an excellent living for more than 30 years. (I used to hate it)

                    When I've done a job "just right" then I love the voice. But then, it's not really the voice--but what the voice did that I really love. On days when I just can't seem to perform a piece the way I know it needs to be done--then I hate my voice.

                    But...it's not about the voice.

                    I love Morgan Freeman's voice (even more than James Earl Jones') but despite how incredible his voice itself is... isn't it the WAY he voices the VISA commercials that make them so incredible. The voice doesn't get in the way of the performance.

                    There are a lot of great voices in voice-overs. But far fewer performers!

                    Posted by:

                      Sales 101: Have an authentic belief and enthusiasm for your product.

                      Posted by:

                        Stephanie...

                        Early in "Radio Broadcasting School" we heard our taped voices played back.

                        Some people were taken aback at what they sounded like; others were ambivalent and just sort of accepted.

                        Of course there were a few narcissists who "loved" the sound of their voice.

                        Our instructor told us there were parallels between actors and announcers in that actors were generally "sensitive, insecure" people who were, by nature, "always looking for approval." Announcers, on the other hand, could generally judge their "self-image" by their reaction to the sound of their voices. Those who didn't like their voices generally had a very poor self-image and rarely had success in the broadcasting.

                        He was suggesting, of course, that a certain amount of acceptance of the sound of one's voice is necessary to work in this field.
                        Being "in love" with your own voice....well, that may be going a bit far, eh?

                        Jay Lloyd
                        Benicia, CA

                        Posted by:
                        • Jay Lloyd
                        • June 21, 2010 9:00 PM

                          I love my voice. My friends and family love my voice. Now, I just need to find someone with money who loves my voice! {=0)

                          Posted by:
                          • Mark E Clason
                          • June 26, 2010 11:20 AM

                            You are lovely people, to share your innermost souls this way! I’m new to the VO community – signing up today to Voices.com as an English voice. It is so helpful to discover that even the seasoned pros have good and bad days, and a touch of insecurity, but I guess those feelings bring humanity into performance. Yes, even at my rookie stage I understand why you talk about loving the voice: it’s a thrill to get a tune from a long- unplayed instrument, to improve and even feel ‘swept away’. Thanks again Voices.com and Stephanie for inspiration. Howard, UK.

                            Posted by:

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