In an industry that’s always changing, how do you have a career that lasts?
Xavier Paul Cadeau has over 25 years of voice over experience and is currently the voice of several major brand campaigns. Whether you’re just embarking on your career journey, or have been a voice actor for decades, Xavier has some considerations when it comes to industry trends, what you should look for in a coach, and how to be a true storyteller.
Take Your Voice Acting from “Good” to “Great”
Good voice over involves competent readings, basic interpretation, good knowledge of sales techniques and basic performance skills. Great voice over, by contrast, is infused with the ability to speak to a deep, emotional need. It also features vocal control, honed after years of practice, an inspired approach to your copy, a subconscious awareness of technique so that you can self-direct and a suspension of your own disbelief. “It’s not all about your voice!” says Xavier.
The question is, how do you go from good to great?
Select a Coach for Longevity
Who you choose to help you on your voice over journey can be a decision with lasting implications. “Most of voice over training today is pro-casting process and not pro-abundant voice-over career,” says Xavier. Instead of concentrating on storytelling and acting, it’s easy to end up with a narrow focus on niches that might not serve you well in the long term. It may also leave your voice acting without depth – without essential elements that color your performance such as your own experiences and moods.
When looking for someone to help launch your career – or to bring it to another level – one of their key characteristics should be that they care about the longevity of your career and not just your auditions.
Conversational Trend vs The Reward of Storytelling
Over the course of your voice over journey you may see trends come and go. While the conversational style of read is the current trend, and it’s certainly a directive to be aware of, you should dig a little deeper. Good storytelling is key to good voice over work. Xavier says it’s the most fulfilling aspect of a voice acting career. “We’re speaking to the subconscious mind. That’s what’s so fascinating about this craft.”
Shifting from Consumer to Advertiser Mentality
Thinking about copy from the point of the advertiser should shift how you view a script. “It’s not all about you and your tastes,” says Xavier. He recommends that you think about the copy from the writer’s standpoint. Why was this copy written? Why does the writer and/or the creative team they think it’s working? What would it take to make it stop working? How could it work better? All of these things can shape your read and interpretation.
What You Do with Your Voice Is What Matters
Xavier compares your voice to strings on a guitar. It’s great that they’re there, but it’s what you do with them that matters. How you use that instrument is, arguably, as important as the instrument itself. Outside of voice acting, the focus is on vocal manipulation because this creates a mood. However, as a voice artist you need to focus on emotion first and that should alter your read.
The Home Studio and How It Can Shape You
While some view the current state of voice acting as isolated, Cadeau sees it as freeing. He says there’s an opportunity to be more authentic in that area of your life than in any other area.
However, one of the drawbacks to being your own director is that you can easily get caught up in small aspects of the performance instead of seeing the performance as a whole. Especially when starting out, tips and tricks can help you get to be more comfortable in front of a microphone. In order to move to the next level, you need to invest in your career. You need to be coached, and listen to become a true performer.
“Well, when I first started I thought great acting was being an expert at being someone else. Now I realize great acting is being an expert in who I am,” says Xavier.
Never Stop Improving
“Let’s take pride in the fact that we are artists,” Xavier urges. As a voice actor you’re always looking to learn, improve and put polish on your performance. While that can be daunting, it also means you have unlimited potential. When it comes to growing your career, focusing on the positives is key.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Xavier advises, adding, “but find out what’s working, then give it steroids.”
About Xavier Paul Cadeau
With 25 years of voice over experience, and as the current voice of several major brand campaigns, Xavier is someone with a story to tell. A former on-air host for the SyFy Channel, Fox Family Channel, and Jet Blue TV, Xavier’s recent credits include voice over work for the NBA, the History Channel’s UFO Files, Gatorade, Burger King, and Foot Locker.