Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

How to Become a Voice Actor (the short version)

Since much of my site is pretty detailed (or long winded) I thought I’d provide my “nickel version” road map of what you should do to become a professional voice actor:

  1. Focus first on exploring the fun and enjoyment of acting, not seeking money or fame.
  2. Determine whether you have the talent and temperament for acting by getting as much non-classroom live performing experience as possible.
  3. “Going pro” means you must get good enough that people will pay you to do it.
  4. Turn on your mind, your curiosity, your capacity to create in any way you can. 
  5. Find things you love doing and never stop doing them.
  6. Watch old movies & TV. Fill your inner “performer’s database” with the history of show biz.
  7. Focus on your health: workout, eat clean and get enough sleep.
  8. Strengthen your acting ability and improv confidence with live performance experience and classes.
  9. Develop strong voice over skills (maintaining character, diction, reading stamina, range of accents and character, e.g.)
  10. It is an actor’s job is to be always ready to take advantage of opportunity and luck.
  11. Get a flexible side job (s). Save your money for a long haul.
  12. An actor should expect and plan for uncertainty, change and a long climb, no matter your experience or ability.
  13. When ready, move to where they cast the kind of work you want to do. This is probably best done in stages, after establishing yourself in a smaller market.
  14. Connect with working voice actors and others heading where you want to go. Surround yourself with those who keep the positive and drop the negative.
  15. Honor your relationships. They are your strength and connection to what is real. Real relationships temper an actor’s ego.
  16. Get a life: Continually find your fuel beyond and apart from acting. 
  17. Imagine a specific future but stay flexible. Write out your goals and revise as needed. Always say your goals to yourself and outloud.
  18. Do you limit yourself? What are your inner mantras?
  19. Embrace mistakes, rejection and dead ends as tools for learning. Always seek an honest take on your work and yourself, even if the truth hurts.
  20. Celebrate small victories. Reward yourself. Stay positive.
  21. Realize your job at an audition or gig is not to ask for something, it is to give/create something compelling. Your craft is your superpower.
  22. Be ready before you interview agents. Have your marketing materials ready to impress (demo, website, etc.).
  23. Be so good that those who cast have to hire you– and rehire you.
  24. Self-direct your VO auditions only when ready and able.
  25. When ready, join an actors’ union to protect yourself, up your earnings and upgrade the quality of projects and professionalism.
  26. Never stop pushing your abilities past any success you establish.

Disclaimer: This is how I see it (as an union member L.A. voice actor working in television, movies and games). But realize that each VO pro’s path to their career is different.

This process may seem daunting to a beginner, but I want you to understand that the long term project of becoming a paid voice actor is neither quick or easy. If you find you enjoy performing, the ups and downs of the process can and should be fun (mostly).

To be a professional actor, acting must be an intersection of what you love and what you are very good at. Wanting it is not enough. Having talent is also not enough.

24 Responses »

  1. I have no money and I live in a small city. I would like to start voice acting for aspiring animators/small-time animators. Do you have any advice so as to get out there and start voice acting?

  2. would it be a bad idea to persue voice acting as a side plan I really enjoy both sides of voice acting and radio so would it be possible to participate in both since well, I’m strong at both, but I don’t want to put too much on myself and then fail horribly.

    • Some animation voice actors come from live radio (e.g. Billy West). It’s more a question of seeing what you are good at and what you like the best. Radio and animation VO are separate hills to climb. If you fear failure you may not be right for acting, as that is an ongoing issue of that career. There’s no shame in giving something a good go and it not working out. How else will you find if it fits for you?

  3. I really love doing character voices but I have a naturally high voice, which is not normally good for radio or VO commercial stuff. I’m afraid that because I do not have that low range, I won’t be able to grab voice jobs because I am not as versatile as the other guy. Is it possible to create a niche as a VO actor with a higher register?

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