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.

36 Responses »

  1. 1. Do you believe it is insulting for a Professional Voice Actor who is willing to offer their services for free, or do free work in general, if the actor chooses to do it for free..

    2. Would this destroy the VA industry if a Professional Voice Actor Does this?

    if not then

    3. What would ruing the Voice Acting Industry?

    Thank you for your time. 🙂

    • 1 & 2. Working for free would only destroy my ability to pay my bills. Nothing wrong with having a (non-paying) hobby, if that’s how you want to apply your talent. 3. The voice acting industry is only injured when professional voice actors turn their backs on each other and refuse to stand together.

  2. Is it necessary to move to LA in order to have a career in voice acting? I live near Atlanta.

    • It’s necessary to live in LA if you want to work in union animation voice acting for television and movies. Union VO work in promos, gaming VO, commercials and books on tape are also concentrated in LA, but are also found in other markets (NY, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, etc).

  3. Becoming a successful voice actor is my goal in life… but I just don’t know where to start. I have insecurities. I have aspergers autism so I am just a little nervous to show my potential to people. I just want to know the step by step process

    • As I cover on my site, there is no one way to become an actor or a voice actor. But I show many possible paths. Check out my “Starting from Zero” page and all the pages nested under that page on my site’s menu bar. From there, I cover the specifics that most voice actors encounter, which is the same for everyone- overcoming insecurity, adversity and what you generally need to shoot for. Your path will be your own and it’s a long sometimes scary journey for everyone who chooses to pursue acting/VO. If it’s fun and you have competitive talent and can take advantage of luck and don’t let any perceived disadvantages get in your way, you may have a shot at going pro. Worst case, you have a fun hobby (which itself is pretty great).

  4. I really want to become a voice actor for video games…I can’t find where I should go to start that. Is there some website or building nearby that I can go and audition?

    • The people I know who voice act in video games are very good actors and have great VO skills as well. I would focus on strengething your acting foremost. I have no idea if games are produced where you live (you can research the companies that produce the games you play they you would like to work on). I do know that the top union games are often recorded in LA or at least in California, but some are also produced drawing from the pool of talent in Canada and the UK or elsewhere. Ultimately, you need to be where the work is produced. While auditioning for union game VO work is often done remotely, the work is done in studio face-to-face. Regarding how to start becoming an actor with those skills, my site covers that extensively.

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© Dee Bradley Baker 2017
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