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 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. Read. A lot. Out loud as well as to yourself.
  9. Strengthen your acting ability and improv confidence with live performance experience and classes.
  10. Develop strong voice over skills (maintaining character, diction, reading stamina, range of accents and character, e.g.)
  11. It is an actor’s job is to be always ready to take advantage of opportunity and luck.
  12. Get a flexible side job(s). Save your money for a long haul.
  13. An actor should expect and plan for uncertainty, change and a long climb, no matter your experience or ability.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Honor your relationships. They are your strength and connection to what is real. Real relationships both feed and temper an actor’s ego.
  17. Get a life: Continually find your fuel beyond and apart from acting. 
  18. Imagine a specific future but stay flexible. Write out your goals and revise as needed. Always say your goals to yourself and outloud.
  19. Look inside: Do you limit yourself? What are your inner mantras?
  20. 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.
  21. Celebrate small victories. Reward yourself. Stay positive.
  22. 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 validation and your superpower.
  23. Be ready before you interview agents. Have your marketing materials ready to impress (demo, website, etc.).
  24. Be so good that those who cast have to hire you– and rehire you.
  25. Self-direct your VO auditions only when ready and able.
  26. When ready, join an actors’ union to protect yourself, up your earnings and upgrade the quality of projects and professionalism.
  27. Never stop pushing your abilities past the 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.

44 Responses »

  1. Is it possible to network with people who do paid voice acting in LA, and arrange a trip to LA to meet them, show them your skills, and in the event that someone notable or who has experience sees that you have what they’re looking for. I would be willing to travel to record if I land any paid jobs, however I would like to remain in NC for the time being.

    • There are voice classes in LA that offer a rotating different casting director or agent teach each week. Some are taught by a single casting director or talent coordinator who may bring in a special guest agent or working pro to help teach. If you impress any of these, it is at least possible for something to happen, but it’s never promised. This plays out over probably five weeks (say, every Tuesday night). That’s a lot of flying back and forth for someone who doesn’t want to live here. That you’re not interesting in committing to living/striving in a larger VO market without first getting hired makes you sound like you’re not particularly serious about this. I wouldn’t recommend anyone fly to the moon to see if maybe they can make it as an astronaut.

      • i am so thankful that after 30 yrs of singing as a signed RnB artist to an independent one, my wife was never ready to move out of Washington State but now that my daughter is following in my footsteps, shes ready, so I will take advantage and move to LA on faith and believe that my transition to VO can be completed in doing so. Looking fwd to networking with the greats.

      • Numerous voice actors (and audio engineers) come from music. Music can be an excellent springboard for other arts, but each is its own unique path. You could also say a voice acting career could lead to a music career. It’s not common but I suppose possible. Best of luck!

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