Perhaps you’ve heard the old marketing adage, “You can’t be all things to all people.” It’s just as true in voice overs as it is in marketing…and, well, most other areas of life.
Just a few minutes ago I received a casting call notice from an agent looking for someone with a middle eastern accent. Earlier today a production company that I’m working with requested my “character” demo. I passed in both instances. The reason? I don’t do credible character voices and foreign dialects! Wouldn’t it be worth my time and effort to hire a coach to help me develop some character voices and the ability to do foreign accents? I don’t believe so. Reason being that I’m pretty good in some other areas that lands me lots of work.
The reason I bring this up is that many people confuse the concept of “voice actor” with someone that can do a good Obama or Clint Eastwood impersonation at the drop of a hat. Or can easily create a unique “character” voice for cartoon work. If you are one of those people, my hat goes off to you! There is definitely work out there for those of who are EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD at that kind of voice over delivery.
My purpose is not to discourage you from doing character voices, dialects, or impersonations, but rather encourage you to focus on, and develop, your strengths. I learned this early on in my voice over career from a voice over consultant. We determined that I was very good at being warm and conversational. I also had developed a niche within the corporate market for recording corporate narration and training programs….again, probably because of my casual/conversational delivery.
The goal is to become as good as you can within the niche(s) that you already the most ability for. So, how do you determine what your strengths are? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few things to keep in mind…
* Get a good coach who can objectively assess your strengths and weaknesses.
* If you are already recording voice over work, where does the bulk of your work tend to come from? Not just categories such as commercial, audio books, telephony, etc. but what styles of reads? Powerful movie trailer? Promos? Conversational? Characters? etc.
* Chances are you already have a good idea of what you’re best at. Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts.
To most effectively build your voice over career, focus on the things that will bring you the greatest return on your investment of time, energy, and resources. Chasing after your weaknesses most likely will not. So…play to your strengths!