Voiceovers are Another Avenue for Talented Types

In addition to modeling and acting, voiceovers are another way to break into the talent industry. As reported by Lisa Johnson Mandell on jobs.aol.com, anyone looking for new employment in this economy should consider this job opportunity, even though the odds may not necessarily be in their favor.

James Mandell, owner of VoiceOver LA, a popular voice over agency, casting company and production studio, relates that “Maybe one in a thousand really has the pipes and can get work.”

You can’t deny it, it sounds like the ideal gig. To secure voice over work, you don’t have to shave, put on makeup or even clothes. With technology what it is these days, it’s not necessary to leave home to audition. All you need is a computer, a microphone and the right software. Those who believe they have a “face for radio” or live miles from an urban hub have a chance, albeit a remote one.

“It involves so much more than just having a pleasing voice,” Mandell says. You have to be able to read lines and make them sound as if they’re natural conversation. You have to know what to emphasize, and how to enunciate without sounding affected. One of Mandell’s favorite examples of a tricky pronunciation is the word “ask.” He says that most people don’t even realize they drop the k at the end of the word and say “ass,” as in “ass your doctor.” Then there are those who pronounce it, “axe,” as in “Let me axe you something.” The vast majority of people don’t even realize they’re mispronouncing it.

There’s a reason that some of Hollywood’s most talented actors get the best gigs, and it’s not just that clients want to associate their brands with a famous name. You’ll note that most commercials don’t identify the voice. Professional actors get the best gigs because they’re consummate acting pros, and they know how to sell a line — they’ve dedicated their lives to perfecting this fine art.

But some of the stars who make more than six figures in voice over are not the most prominent. They include Keifer and Donald Sutherland, Richard Thomas of ‘The Waltons’ fame, John Corbett (Aiden on ‘Sex and the City’), Morgan Freeman, Alison Janney, Linda Hunt and Holland Taylor.

Then there are the character actors — the ones who voice Sponge Bob Square Pants, The Simpsons and Pixar films. Some of them are known actors, but others you wouldn’t recognize if they sat next to you at Applebee’s. Even if your friends tell you you do great character voices, your chances of getting a role on a show or in a film are extremely slim. “Unless you’re an A-List actor, you have to be based in New York or L.A. to get those kinds of roles,” Mandell says, adding that your chances are a little better for voicing video games.

Those who think they can do great ethnic accents — British, Southern, Indian, Russian, whatever — are not necessarily a shoo-in either. It’s true you hear a lot of those accents on the air; but most of them are done by natives of the intended region. One of Mandell’s worst nightmares is when he’s out in a social setting, a new acquaintance finds out what he does for a living, and says, “I can do great voices! Here’s my British accent… here’s my old man voice… now I do teenager… and listen — this one’s my best! Indian convenience store guy!” Those voices might amuse your friends, but there’s little chance of getting a professional gig with them — unless you come from the actual country you’re mimicking.

There are, however, two types of voices that are in hot demand. If you have one of these voices, don’t be surprised if an agent stops you on the street and hands you his or her business card.

The Voice of God: That deep, resonant voice that sounds like authority from on high. “But it has to be natural, it can’t be forced or feigned,” Mandell says. “If people stop you mid-conversation and tell you, ‘Wow! You sound like James Earl Jones,’ you’re in. If you stop people and say, “Wanna hear me do James Earl Jones?” you’re out.

The Sultry Sex Kitten: Women who speak in a velvety-voiced purr are also in demand. But this, too, has to be natural. “You have to sound like a woman in her 30s with a smokey voice. Not a woman in her 50s with throat cancer,” Mandell notes.

If you have one of these voices and can act, or you just sound like a regular, friendly, reliable everyday person, you still might have a chance!

Read the full article here: jobs.aol.com

Photo of James Mandell courtesy of jobs.aol.com

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