How to Become a Voice Actor for Cartoons and Animation
Getting started in any new career can feel daunting, but launching a fresh start in the performing arts can feel even more so.
We’ve pulled insights from our “Day in the Life” webinar series, with the hopes that getting started will be easier than you first thought. These tips, combined with hard work and persistence, will help you make your entrance into the world of character work.
Owning Your Niche – But Not Pigeonholing Yourself
In this day and age of voice acting, specializing in one kind of voice over doesn’t mean only knowing one thing. According to voice actor/director/coach, Shelly Shenoy, in order to succeed in the area of voice over that you’re most drawn to – in this case, animation – you need to expose yourself to the 3 main ‘buckets’ of voice over:
- Long form narration that hones the skill of stamina reading and clean character splits
- Commercial reads that hone the art of the sale
- Animation projects that hone the development of special character work
Think of each of the above as the posts of a three-legged stool. Only when you’ve exposed yourself to all three and dedicated time to developing skills from each, will you find exactly what you enjoy and where you flourish as an animation voice actor.
Sample Scripts Can Help You Discover Your Niche
There are so many pieces to the voice over puzzle that go beyond simply recording your audition and submitting it.
In their “Day in the Life” webinars, voice actors Anatol Silotch and Katie Harrington explained how important practicing with sample scripts was to their early success. Learning to understand a script, rather than simply reading it, is something that requires constant practice. Using sample scripts, like these Video Game and Character Voice Over Scripts, is a great way to build up strength in this area.
Getting Into Character and Finding Success
Getting into character requires more than a great voice, it also requires creativity.
According to Anatol, his start in voice over began when one day, someone told him to get into voice acting, not because he had a great voice, but because he had a creative mind. Having a creative mind is essential for plucking out the voice that’s perfectly suited to the scripted character. Successful animation voice actors consider the elements of a character and filter through a thousand different voices in their heads until they settle on the one that embodies the character.
When character voice actors share their advice about getting into character, another point they touch on is doing research. That research can consist of product or company research, script pronunciation, or research into what a unique character, like an ‘apathetic mother,’ might sound like.
To create a fully-realized character, acting coach Dee Cannon recommends asking yourself questions like:
1. Who am I?
2. Where am I?
3. When is it?
4. Where have I just come from?
5. What do I want?
Answering these questions as the character will help you do internal research about what embodies the character, which is just as important as how to pronounce tricky words in the script.
Dealing with Rejection
Every job you don’t land offers an opportunity for reflection. For Katie Harrington, that meant paying attention to the types of jobs she was and wasn’t landing, and then noticing a trend.
The trend she noticed was that she wasn’t landing ‘mother’ roles. With that realization, Katie now ‘works smarter’ by trying to select jobs that are 100% suited to her skill set and character work. Yes, that decreases the amount of jobs she auditions for in a day, but her ‘win rate’ has skyrocketed since she now identifies jobs that are perfect for herself.
Sometimes, voice actors don’t win a job simply because they didn’t happen to fit the character. In moments like this, it’s important to remember that above all, it’s never personal. Sometimes, something else got in the way of the client being able to fully digest the audition demo. Take your reflection beyond the job description and role by circling back to your audition demo. Is there any ambient noise in the background? Can you hear rush hour traffic in the background? Is the audio too quiet? Did you follow the specified file naming convention? Did you slate? Anything short of quality perfection will hinder the client’s ability to fully grasp your awesome animation character capabilities.
To Recap on Getting Into Animation
If you know the job is perfect for you, and you’ve researched and practiced the script to fully realize the character, finish it off with a demo of perfect quality. Always keep practicing with fun sample scripts that showcase your unique talents. Never take rejection personally and always reflect back objectively to learn from the audition.