headshot of actress Lake Bell | Voices.com Blog - Where clients and voice actors can find valuable information on pre-production, technology, animation, video and audio production, home recording studios, business growth, voice acting and auditions, celebrity voice actors, voiceover industry news and more! Are you ever asked to perform in a vocal style that drives you up the wall?
Do you have a pet peeve about uptake speech patterns?
Actress Lake Bell can relate. In her new film “In a World” the audience follows Carol Solomon (played by Bell) as she competes for “voice of God” roles rarely bestowed upon women in the movie trailer voice-over niche.

A running joke in the film is the characters’ annoyance that so many young women speak in the uptake voice, or, in other words, sound like they’re asking a question at the end of every sentence. In many recent interviews Bell reveals that, like her character, she can’t stand hearing young women speak that way. Understandably so. It is a learned dialect, akin to the “valley-girl,” combining a light vocal pitch with an attitude of ambivalence.

It’s difficult to understand why anyone would try to sound clueless on purpose. A light and airy “Marilyn Monroe” type of vocal pitch may be natural for some, but even Marilyn didn’t sound like she was asking a question at the end of every sentence.
Interestingly, while the “valley-girl” voice may have a gender parallel in the “surfer dude” male voice, there is not an equivalent for female voice talent when it comes to movie trailer voice-overs. This is particularly true with major motion pictures, as they are more likely to stick with a formula that is perceived to sell the film.

The authoritative, booming male announcer voice seems to say “you must see this movie.” Having said that, anyone with a mother who could get you to sit down and behave as a child with just the glare of her eye knows that women can be the voice of authority just as well.
Although it is not common place yet, we are seeing more women cast as the movie trailer voice for independent films. But will it cross over into the mainstream?

Are you a woman that has voiced movie trailers?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this. Chime in by leaving a comment below.



  1. Great article, Lin. There’s no question that booming, bass voices have an advantage.
    Early in my career, a more experienced, male peer listened to a video I was working on about a serious subject. He shook his head and suggested I re-do the voice over. He pointed out that my voice wasn’t credible because it didn’t match what I was saying and urged me to take it down an octave. From there, I began to appreciate both the highs and lows of my vocal range. More importantly, when and how to use them in the appropriate context.
    It’s interesting to listen to women in authoritative positions. Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Pelosi, Marillyn Hewson, Susan Wojcicki, Jill Abramson.
    If someone knows what they’re talking about and is passionate about it, they come across exactly that way. Women don’t sound like men but can still be authoritative. Now, if only the film industry could adapt.
    By the way, I haven’t voiced a film trailer but do have a documentary in my portfolio. The promo can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/su1YwjrmwJE

  2. Hi Lisa,
    It’s great to hear from you! I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
    That’s excellent advice from your peer. The right intonation and pitch should be used in the voice-over to match the deeper meaning of the words.
    Very nice work on the documentary promo!
    All the best,

  3. I agree with Lisa Rice, Lin. Great article. I’d like to take up another point raised by Lake Bell. “Strine” is the lingua franca in Australia and the ‘speaze’ [upward inflectionitis speech disease!] is rife in that country. Not just young women…everybody there is infected; men, women and dogs! I love Australia and Australians, but they DO need a severe ‘speaze’ antidote. Our national UK treasure, Stephen Fry, actually put it in “Room 101”! Listened to your docu Lisa; as we say in the UK, “Nice One Girl”. Keep up the good work.

  4. Oh Yeah! Love this article. As much as I swoon over a yummy and buttery male voice, the truth is that this idea of men being better for trailers is old hat. Women say it LOUD and PROUD too. A booming voice does not necessarily have more Moxie or say “come hither” – It’s all in the soul of the speaker.
    “It’s the fire in my eyes,
    And the flash of my teeth,
    The swing in my waist,
    And the joy in my feet. (And the way I speak!)
    I’m a woman
    There is no law or weight left in this old habit. Women and Men go hand in hand in the voiceover industry.
    Jessica Gee is a proud member of SHE – Raising Women’s Voices Together http://www.SheIsTheVoice.com

  5. Hi, I’m a small potatoes voice talent in mid-Michigan – there are a few advantages to that, believe it or not. I read the article VOX posted about your {Lake Bell’s} film “In A World…” and would really like to see it, I related instantly to the title the article offered in the way of description. Now, again, today, I read about what is our mutual pet peeve regarding the “uptake voice”…sounding as if someone is ending their statement with a question. I find it’s a bit like that first twinge of pain one gets that alerts a migraine is in the making.
    I applaud you {Lake Bell} for your efforts in the area of voiceover work and exposing the wonders and mysteries of this odd, outlandish and absolutely the most wonderful career I could experience. I’m so grateful for what I’m able to do and excited for where my work will take me. I just completed voicing my first animation. The style of my voice was directed (not something I would have chosen for this piece – but that’s what I’m paid to do).
    I had a documentary in my hands to voice for a couple who attempted to swim across Lake Michigan last summer, but they were not successful in completing their goal, though I still think “close enough” was worth a documentary. I continue to look for documentary work.
    Anyway, thank you for your time. Your work {Lake Bell} is an inspiration, thank you. – Becky Kolemainen

  6. ~ Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for the enthusiastic comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Sending you a virtual high-five for commenting “men and women go hand in hand in the voiceover industry!” Indeed they do.
    ~ Hi Becky,
    Thanks for your comment too. Best of luck landing a documentary gig!
    Best wishes to you both,

  7. This “In a world” hot topic is an opportunity for us to remind people (both in and out of our vo world), that this type of work represents a tiny portion of the projects that exist.
    In spite of the notoriety, it’s only a select few who voice those projects.
    Yes, it would be great to hear women getting those jobs too,
    but I’d venture to guess that when a woman breaks that glass ceiling she’ll be a celebrity voice.
    Better to fish in different waters, where the supply is great,
    and our odds of winning work is far better!
    I will say, there’s a genre of trailer work I’ve been booking more and more (and loving more and more), which is book trailers. Kids books, young adult, historical fiction. For me, voicing these projects is akin to ordering lots of appetizers on a menu instead of a main course.
    That’s the way, uh-huh-uh-huh I like it!
    Thanks, Lin, Lisa, Don, Jessica and Becky for the lively discussion.
    Here’s an example:
    (and while I’m at it, can anyone tell me how I can capture this audio to share on my audio player?!)

  8. Hi Debbie,
    It’s great to hear from you! Thanks for adding your two cents to the thread. That’s a wonderful analogy that voicing book trailers is like ordering lots of appetizers off a menu instead of getting the main course. The trailer you did was excellent! I would recommend asking the client for a copy of the audio so that you can post it publicly knowing you have their greenlight to do so.
    Best wishes,


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here