Learning to Act
There are many ways to become an actor and my approach is omnivorous and non-denominational. Anyone advocating only “one way” to do it is probably selling something. Whatever works for you – do that!
For an overview of the many skills and capacities a voice actor needs CLICK HERE.
Where can an aspiring voice actor discover and develop the acting skills needed?
Here are some of the more conventional ways to become an actor:
CLICK HERE to learn about doing school and local community theater.
CLICK HERE to learn about improv training.
CLICK HERE to learn about taking acting workshops.
CLICK HERE to learn about studying with VO Pros.
CLICK HERE to learn about trying stand up comedy, children’s theater and theme parks.
CLICK HERE to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of getting an acting degree.
CLICK HERE to learn more about getting “street trained” vs. acting conservatory trained acting.
Finding your own path to acting
If you ask a successful actor what you should do to become an actor, most will probably essentially advise you,”Do what I did.”
This would be very different advice from every voice actor you’d meet.
Many top voice actors don’t have an acting degree and may have taken few (if any) voice acting classes. Some have never performed in a play or a musical.
Many don’t have a traditional background of what most would consider a typical “acting path” at all. Some come from a live music background (e.g. Grey Delisle). Some from radio and stand up (Billy West, Tom Kenny and Carlos Alzaraqui). Some are animators or writers and just have a clear idea of what their drawings need to say (e.g. Eric Bauza, Seth MacFarlane and Doug Laurence).
Some found acting as a child (e.g. Ashley Johnson), some later in life (e.g. Steve Blum didn’t try acting until he was 40). Others have Broadway credentials (e.g. Charlie Adler, Candi Milo), or have studied acting at a conservatory (e.g. Kevin Michael Richardson and Jeff Bennett).
Regardless of their experience or training (or lack of it), they are all terrific voice actors because they are all terrific actors.
Most voice actors have a patchwork of experience and training to get as good as they are. And most have a history of years of some kind of collaborative creativity that often involves a live audience.
There is no one way to become a good voice actor. Your path will be your own.
If you are interested in further exploration of what an “actor’s life” can be, I’ve read some enjoyable and insightful autobiographies recently that I highly recommend: Steve Martin’s “Born Standing Up,” Rob Lowe’s “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” and “Love Life,” Martin Short’s “I Must Say,” Frank Langella’s “Dropped Names,” and John Badham’s “On Directing.” Gene Wilder’s story is fascinating as is Robin Williams’ tragic bio. The Monty Python troop have a nice offering of autobiographies as well.
All are engaging, personal accounts of “an actor’s life” from established actors with talent, smarts and heart who endure (Badham is a director who loves actors). You see the process of their unique creative drives gradually clarifying and coming together against all odds. None were “born into it” or seemed particularly destined for fame and fortune at first. It’s striking how improbable each success seems in retrospect. Each life is an unlikely collision of chance, initiative and talent.
I so enjoy listening to the story of an emerging talent that has found a way to both endure and thrive. I find hope and instruction in that (sometimes cautionary instruction).
I’ve listened through these as audiobooks, mostly read by the author, which I also highly recommend.
Hey Mr. Baker, I’m a bit of a writer and I would often use voice acting to better flesh out my characters, male, female, children, and creatures. With these tips you haven’t just helped me as a voice actor, but also as a writer.
[Does] voice acting involved a lot of moving from place to place?
To work in animation, movies or gaming VO, you probably need to live where the recording studios are. Same mostly for union commercials, to have access to casting director auditions and easy proximity to the studio where those record. Television promos is sometimes a more portable situation and if you have solid client demand, you could record this kind of VO from anywhere with decent wifi or an ISDN set up, I believe. A talented few are able to make this kind of VO thus a fairly portable career.