Voice actors come in all sizes and shapes. Not just figuratively speaking but experience-wise. Some have come from Audio, (tech and radio backgrounds), some are inspired by new media such as Anime and Videogames and still many others started out as actors. There is a synchronous flow to being in the entertainment industry and moving into the voiceover industry. In some aspects, it is an easier transition than just deciding to go into it, without those related insights.
There is also some truth that not all VO talent can transition to on-screen or stage work and not all stage and screen actors can cross the bridge into voice acting. There are shared skills to be sure, such as script interpretation, character development, and the ability to tell a story but there are also new skills and techniques to be learned. Working from a home studio you need to be an audio technician, you need to have acute self-directing and self-analysis skills (I complete about 90% of all projects without a director), you lose all the external stimuli such as another actor, props, external cues and so on, it's just you in your booth much of the time and you need to have a plethora of small business acumen.
My voiceover path was acting, chemistry, and a business mix. I was taken everywhere with my Mum who did local theater.
That backstage smell of wood dust in a theater is as exciting and comforting now as it was then, and I learned about stagecraft and acting from a young age.
Acting was a magnanimous and social hobby for me, including two shows in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. My educational strengths were in Math's & Science. My Dad was an engineer and I decided to major in Chemistry and spent 2 years as a Secondary school Chemistry teacher. Ultimately though, teaching was not my forever vocation, I decided to change course and began a rewarding career in Wealth management. I trained on the job with several companies and spent the next 30 years in the industry, in one way or another. I developed key skills such as being a self-starter, negotiating, networking, and the art of the sale.
Then it was time to move on, as I reached a point when I needed and wanted to leave my established career. The business was changing, and I needed a different kind of challenge. It’s not an easy choice in your 50’s. I decided to revisit my acting roots. I was gifted a voice acting class and it opened my eyes to a career that really sparked my interest. After moving from the UK to the US, I gave it my all. New home - new career - no pressure?! I found mentors, classes, conventions, and forums. I wasn’t sure whether I would be a success. I had to educate myself in the industry, from the ground up with my previous acting and business experience, being an added bonus. I knew I could always find something to fall back on if it didn’t work. I was aware the entertainment business has the reputation of being one of the hardest to break into.
I am 8 years into my voice acting career now but it was extremely tough in the beginning. My life was consumed by auditioning. It took me 3 months to get my first gig. The first year was slow, but I felt I had made sufficient progress to continue. The second year kept me going and it was by the 3rd year, I knew this was for me and that I could be a full-time voice actor. My experiences and careers have nourished the voice actor in me. I’m proficient at science-related/ medical eLearning (I like the medical terminology challenge and my finance and sales experience helps with corporate, explainer, and other E-Learning topics).
My acting chops come into play, in character-driven projects, most obviously in video games, audio drama, audiobooks, and animation but also in commercial and dialogue-driven projects.
I work alongside many other extremely talented voice actors. It is a competitive but friendly industry. I appreciate my past successes and look forward to future ones. There is no magic formula but as in most industries, you must keep learning, trying new things, and dedicate yourself to the craft.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered the joy of sharing some of what I have learned through coaching and speaking at conferences. Next up, I’ll be at VO Atlanta (March 31- April 2) participating in a panel and providing a workshop in the Business/Marketing track (The Great Voiceover Experiment).