By Lin Parkin
June 16, 2014
What does an aspiring voice actor do to get into the voice-over industry?
Any voice-over professional would agree, the first thing you need to do is get training.
One up-and-comer took that to heart.
Meet Jay Britton, an aspiring voice actor from the U.K., who is breaking new ground and went to incredible lengths to get the best start possible in the voice-over industry.
Jay has had an incredible journey thus far. His dedication, enthusiasm, and resolve to make his way into the exciting world of voice acting is inspiring, to say the least.
Join VOX Daily to learn more about how he's breaking into voice-over.
What made you decide to get voice-overs?
I reached a point my life where I realised I should be chasing my dreams instead of sticking with the "safe" job I'd gone into after college. My passion had always been voice over since I was a young child, I was forever imitating the voices on TV and talking to myself while walking round the house! Having a son of my own was a big push for me, I wanted to be a role model for him and show him that you can follow your dreams no matter what. I'd always sworn I'd never be a person who looks back on their life and regrets not following their passion so here I am!
You mentioned you trained with Nancy Wolfson, Richard Horvitz, Rob Paulsen, Chuck Duran and Donna Grillo. Why did you decide to train with those particular coaches/producers?
For me there is no point doing something unless you're aiming for the top so key for me was working with and surrounding myself with the best people in the industry. Both Nancy and Chuck have been amazing to work with (and recently both listed in the top 13 influential people in VO) and have produced some amazing demo's for me.
Training with Richard Horvitz was phenomenal, he has such a wonderful process for character acting and, not only that, helps you to find your strengths. I trained with Richard over Skype for two months before meeting him in person and it was an absolute riot. Meeting Rob was a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me as he's responsible for voicing a lot of my childhood, but again, on top of that, he's someone who has been at the top of this industry for decades so to learn from his experience was great.
Donna Grillo was an easy choice, it's not every day you get to sit down with the casting director of a show like Sponge Bob and get their advice for getting into the industry! It's worth saying that none of this was cheap (and rightly so) but a key to success in VO, in my opinion, is having the faith and belief to invest in yourself and your business.
What made you decide to fly all the way from the U.K. to L.A. to meet them? Why did you film your journey? What kind of response have you received?
The decision to go to L.A. to meet my coaches and record demo's was an easy one, if not bitter sweet. Part of it was accepting that as I live in the UK, am new to VO, am older etc. that going to LA and working with them was as close as I was ever going to get to living in LA and working at the Cartoon Network, so I wanted to at least try and get a taste of it.
Moreover though, it was about understanding the power of meeting people face to face. So much of our industry is spent behind closed doors, either on our own or connecting with people remotely, with so much work direct over the Internet, meeting people is a rarity. I wanted to have the opportunity to meet people in the flesh and get the chance to have a coffee and a proper discussion. Nancy was kind enough to take me out for Sushi in Brentwood and we had a fantastic evening. Something that just isn't possible over the phone.
I wanted to video the experience for two reasons; to remember the trip and to share the experience with other voice artists. VO is so under represented (though it's getting better) but has a passionate following and a great community. People the world over are interested and intrigued by voice over and a lot of people are interested in what it takes to make it.
The response I've received has been amazing and utterly humbling, I've received so many messages from other voice actors telling what an inspiration it was to see someone chasing the dream and how it had encouraged them to double their efforts and keep on going for it. It's also given me the opportunity to give back to the community by sharing my experience with people who are just getting started.
Do you plan on staying in the U.K. to pursue voice-over work?
For the time being, but if Nickelodeon offered me a series tomorrow I'm sure I could convince the wife! I still don't think you can escape the fact that the biggest games, cartoons and films are still made stateside, though the gaming scene in the UK is definitely picking up pace with a lot of fantastic Indie studios producing some wonderful games. I'm actually working with some Indie studios on a few games as we speak!
What kind of VO work have you done so far? What areas are most interesting to you? Why?
I've had a really varied client list so far, ranging from e-learning on how to sell on eBay to being the voice of Jarvis for Marvel Comics to voicing a D-Day veteran for the History Channel. You can't escape the fact that a lot of a VO's work is going to be corporate, e-learning etc. and I think that's important to realise going into it.
It's very rare to start off with just getting to do character voices and only that, though I have had plenty of opportunities to do a series of audiobooks for kids, a few video games and even some really wacky corporate videos!
My passion does lie with video games and animation. I get a real kick out of finding a new voice and, as I have quite a range, it gives me a big playground. There's something about taking on a completely different voice that really lets you disappear into a different world and I love it!
What has been your overall process for getting started in voice-overs?
My process has pretty much been train, work and train again! I went to a VO Masterclass in the UK with Gary Terzza which gave me a great springboard into the industry and that combines some training with the production of a show reel. That got me started and then after doing months of auditions and work I learned where I was lacking and what I needed to progress.
That's why I invested in new kit for the home studio and started training with Nancy and Richard. For my equipment I started off with a little home studio kit that I had to unpack every time I wanted to use it, bit of a nightmare! Now though I'm happy to say I have a 1.2m square, sound treated voice over booth in my office with professional mic's, pre-amps, mixers etc. It's my home from home and was cheaper to set up than people may think.
Again though it comes down to how much belief you have in yourself and how much you want to invest. I signed up to Voices.com pretty soon after I started in the industry and have been a member pretty much ever since! It's invaluable for both getting started in the industry and making new contacts with clients. I've also received some very high profile gigs through the site, including my first ever video game!
You worked in IT before pursuing voice-over's. How does your background in IT help you as a voiceover artist?
Having an IT background certainly helped when it came to getting to grips with setting up a recording studio and learning how to use recording software. It's also been invaluable in a lot of ways, for example, being able to get to grips with all the social media platforms and running a website and buying domains and organising e-mail providers etc. IT for the business has thankfully never been something I've had to worry about. Similarly, it's also another way I've been able to help out other VO's. Just yesterday I helped out by resizing another VO's twitter picture for her!
What advice would you give to others entering the industry?
Boy, well I could talk for hours, and hours, and hours on this one! First off, if anyone does want to get in touch and talk to be about this, feel free!
I think my main advice would be to understand that by entering voice over what you are really doing is starting a business and that means you need to think like a business from day one. Have a website, get on twitter, create a logo and a brand, have invoices, decide how you'll manage accounts, etc. How will you market yourself? There is so much more to being a voice over artist than just speaking into a mic (in fact that's probably only 10% of it!)
The second bit of advice I would have is train and enter the market when you're ready. After I had my initial reel done and worked for around 2 years I actually took a year out - though moving house twice and having a baby was also a factor! I took a year out because I wanted to train more, get new reels, decide on a strategy and re-enter the market with a bang so it's important not to rush yourself and then get demotivated by the lack of progress.
Actually on that point, mentally prepare yourself for the rejection. Voice over is performing and performing is personal so when people don't book you, or you never hear from that agent or big casting it can be devastating, I know!
It's really difficult to keep your head up when that happens and just keep going but you have to and being prepared for it will help, what's helped me is knowing that as soon as you take a single step on the path to where you want to be you are successful.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'd just like to wish the best of luck to everyone in this wonderful community and good luck to anyone considering entering it!
About Jay Britton
Professionalism, versatility and dedication are what you get when you work with Jay Britton. He represents a clean, sophisticated, youthful British voice.
He can perform 20 accents, 100's of character voices and limitless styles. Voice overs are his passion and that comes through in his work. He gives 100% on every project and is able to provide genuinely emotive performances that will add a stamp of authenticity to any recording.
Jay has experience in TV, Radio, Videogames, Audiobooks, Narrations, Jingles, E-learning and has worked with major clients, such as Marvel Comics, from his broadcast quality studio and can offer 24 hour turnaround on most projects.Advice, Aspiring Voice Actor, Chuck Duran, Donna Grillo, Jay Britton, Nancy Wolfson, Richard Horvitz, Rob Paulsen, Training