We have been teaching voice acting and developing voiceover programs for more than 20 years. Over that time, we have met personally with hundreds of aspiring voice actors. The primary assumption upon which people consider voice acting is because they have a distinctive voice, which they believe will quickly lead to a successful voice acting career. This is not a reasonable expectation and nowadays, most newcomers have heard the rebuttal. Actor and director J.B. Blanc, put it succinctly: “A good voice will make you a voice actor as much as a good pen will make you a writer.” Training is required. Once the newcomer accepts that training is in order, the next goal is to figure how much to invest in order to determine if he will be successful. A reasonable request, but not answerable in the short term. No credible teacher would venture a guess without first working with the student for a consistent, sustained period. These assumptions are reasonable on the part of the newcomer but naive nonetheless.
Years ago, some teachers (certainly not all) depended on this naiveté to make a living. In addition, because the newcomers often came with grandiose assumptions, the teachers didn’t have to pitch the students so much as just go along with the fallacy. Fortunately, things have changed for the better. First, voiceover potentials from years past have since learned that their expectations were misguided, and now recognize they need more robust preparation. Second, an entirely new breed of highly experienced teachers has emerged, and with them a more ethical approach to educating students about the career challenges. Finally, social media has given rise to a plethora of reviews, blogs, and tips for newcomers to read, allowing them to make a more informed choice in their quest for a teacher to get them off on the right foot. Mind you, not everyone who wants to become a voice actor is a good candidate for the craft. Teachers point the way, but the student must steer his own ship.
Below are three personal qualities you can assess to help determine if voice acting is the right path for you. These guidelines apply to any number of pursuits, but we have tailored them for voice acting.
You have an innate passion for the artistry. You possess a passion deep down in your belly. Passion overshadows the typical obstacles that confront most people on the path to a successful voiceover career. What does passion look like? In your mind’s eye, you picture yourself enjoying the work before the money and the process before the result. Remember how as kids we easily dreamed of doing things for the fun and excitement. We wanted to be artists, doctors, firefighters, and teachers, not because they earned good money, but because they excited us. Of course, as adults we recognize that making a living is part of the deal. If you look deeper, however, you may see that the stuff of childhood dreams is still at play. That’s the passion.
You’re open to rehabilitating your soul. Acting—which is what most good voice acting requires—will take you deeper into your psyche than you realize. The most effective voiceover coaching happens in private, one-on-one sessions, tailored to the individual. Even the traditionally trained acting student will discover new levels of emotional exploration when working with a teacher privately. The best teachers teach acting and have an uncanny knack for a certain amount of life coaching. They become therapeutic sounding boards by understanding how to help individual students connect with what may be in the way of a free and authentic performance. Craft and technique are essential to the theoretical process, but connecting emotionally is where you find the juice. Learning voice acting requires a brave inspection of the self. As teachers, we seek out specialized training to help us accommodate individual learning styles and stay alert. It is essential, less we find ourselves teaching in a bubble.
You finish what you begin. All of us, at different points in our lives, have started a big personal project with great excitement only to drop it before seeing it through. Perhaps it is a temporary way to give ourselves a psychological boost. However, if not finishing projects is a habit, you may want to take a hard look at what is in your way. Involving a therapist may be a way to drill down more effectively. It is beneficial to look at projects that you gave up on as well as those you completed. The goal is to embark on the necessary life transformation required to see things through, including voice acting. When you are ready to declare your commitment to the voiceover process, which will inevitably include unexpected challenges, you will have a better chance of seeing it through. Embarking on a voiceover career could be your opportunity for more than just a new career. It could be an opportunity for a new you.