Rodney Saulsberry taught people more than a thing or two about how you can bank on your voice at the Voice Coaches Advanced Marketing Expo and Conference.
Discover some tips that will more than get you on your way and light a lively fire beneath you in your voice over career.
Need A Moment?
What do the movie trailers “Waiting to Exhale”, “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”, “IronMan”, Twix chocolate bars, the Zatarain’s Jazz Man commercials and Dominos Pizza all have in common? They are all voiced by Rodney Saulsberry, celebrated voice over artist, author and voice acting instructor.
One of the reasons why I love hearing Rodney Saulsberry speak (and reading his voice acting books) is because he is so down to earth and is genuinely interested in helping others succeed and meet their potential.
Rodney firmly believes that we all have a path in life and that hard work and determination pay off when the right opportunities present themselves.
Isn’t it nice to know that you’ve arrived at this stage in your career for a reason?
Voice Over is Voice Acting
Voice over isn’t just talking, it’s acting. Rodney advises that all aspiring voice actors take an acting class. Also, consider improvisation (improv) classes and singing classes as voiceover is analogous to music.
It’s not how you sound, it’s how you interpret the copy. That’s the way you get the work.
Remember that beauty is in the ear of the beholder. Upon making that critical realization, you’ll learn not to take rejection personally and be better for it.
Take Action and Make Your Own Opportunities
Many years ago, Rodney got an audition for a show called “Happy Days”. Although he wasn’t cast for the show, this ambitious talent from Detroit, Michigan wasn’t going to pack up and go home without dropping some resumes! While making the rounds, Rodney stumbled upon a rehearsal for the show “Taxi” starring Tony Danza.
Tony saw Rodney and purposefully pushed him. Rodney, always being the actor, decided to reciprocate and a light boxing match took shape right there and then. As soon as Tony had seen enough, he motioned to James L. Brooks and told him to hire Rodney on the spot to play the role of Carl the Boxer.
See what creating opportunities and taking risks can do for your career?
Trends in Voice Acting
The trend today is to sound like a “real person”.
While that may sound easy enough, you’d be surprised at how much work goes into sounding real without sounding contrived or fake. During his presentation, Rodney graciously shared the floor with a handful of participants who were asked to read for him using some advertising copy he had prepared. The energy in the room was fabulous, being a theatre and all, and the voice actors really gave it everything they had.
The performances were noteworthy but what the genius of it all came out through some very carefully worded direction that turned a voice over read into a believable voice over performance. Big distinction. Rodney asked his volunteers to perform and insert his name at key points in the script so as to create an atmosphere where it wasn’t just a voice actor talking to the wall but to a real person who they could converse with and relate to.
I Am Always a Student
Even people at Rodney’s level in the voice over biz are students.
With the industry changing fast and furiously, it’s hard not to be a student, and if you aren’t still learning you’d be surprised by how much things have changed! In the past, people like Rodney in sunny California used to hop in their car and drive all over Los Angeles — just to audition. Of course, the majority of the work was also done on-site at recording studios, but with today’s technologies (Internet / ISDN), there’s significantly less commuting which happily makes for cleaner air and less money spent on gasoline.
It also used to be more common that talent would get bookings based upon their demo. Not so in recent years. Top talent also need to audition nowadays according to the new realities of the voice over marketplace.
• Say your name before you read audition copy and state it nice and clearly.
• Don’t enhance your voice in auditions at home. You need to live up to your demo in person.
• Send MP3 files instead of WAV files when auditioning.
• Celebrity sound alike work is big business. Match the key they speak in, their timing and breathing.
• Once you find your signature voice, stick with it. Your signature voice makes you the most money.
• It all starts first with hard work. If you work hard, how can you not be successful?
Which voice gets you the jobs?
Which voice makes you happy?
Which voice are you most comfortable with?
If you work hard and you also have talent, the sky’s the limit.
Ideas for Practice to Gain a Competitive Advantage:
• Read copy.
• Cereal boxes, sides of buses, and so on.
• Turn on the radio. Repeat right after the announcers.
• Listen to other voice talent.
• Notice their phrasing and voice over style.
• Listen to timing.
Any comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’m sure Rodney does too.