Voice actresses are essential in creating quality audio content. Here is a look at this profession.
Defining Voice Actresses
Voice actresses are actresses who mainly do voice acting. Such a person may come from a theater background, for example, but work as a voice actress primarily requires use of her voice and is thus different from traditional acting.
What is Voice Acting?
Voice acting is the art and craft of performing with one’s voice. Such a performance may create a vast range of works such as: voice-overs in documentaries, voices in animated film and television, audio ads, dubbing of foreign film and much more.
The people who do voice acting may be called voice actors, voice actresses or voice artists, amongst other names.
There are quite a few ways in which voice actresses, and voice artists in general, may train.
The first is through a standard training program. Such a course may be available for acting, theater or voice acting specifically, amongst others. Any training program will be useful in learning the fundamentals of acting and performing. At the end of the day, voice acting is still acting, so it all helps.
Voice actresses may be confronted by a lack of time or financial resources to train. In this case, there are possibilities besides formal courses. YouTube is a great resource to learn voice and singing technique. Joining a choir is a good way to be around people who know singing and voice performance. Community theater is a good way to perform and develop as an actor too. Student short films are also an avenue to perform and are always looking for actors.
It is essential that a voice artist have a space at home to practice. This helps to train, by recording performances and listening for improvements. A voice artist must also get used to recording and sending online auditions, so a home studio is vital. An inexpensive setup, with a microphone, pop shield, XLR cable, mixer/interface, computer and recording software will do.
Skills and Technique
The most important thing to remember is that voice acting is, first and foremost, acting. This means that voice actresses must have a solid training in acting first. Then, on top of that, they may build the skills pertinent to voice performing.
The most relevant skills for successful voice acting are range, believability, and fullness in the voice. Voice actresses must also discover their own particular style and brand. There are many opportunities for voices that are unusual and not classically beautiful, particularly in anime. This is a point to remember always.
Warming Up and Safety
Warming up is an important skill in using a voice with safety. Voice actresses should learn and practice a warming-up procedure. Such a routine may include drinking a warm liquid, doing scales and lip/tongue exercises.
Auditioning is, in many ways, a voice actresses’ main job. Auditions may be either in-person or online.
Auditioning in-person is generally done in big cities such as Los Angeles, New York or London. Anime dubbing is done in some Texan cities as well.
Nowadays though, there are many possibilities to audition online, thanks to new technologies. Voice actresses are well-advised to practice recording and sending files online before auditioning, to avoid last-minute fretting.
Auditioning and not getting roles is expected for voice actresses. If there are too many rejections, however, a voice actress may want to examine certain things:
Anxiety and stage fright are a typical stumbling block for a voice actress, particularly in auditions. With time, as auditions become standard practice, such feelings should decline.
If, however, they seem to remain, there are a few things that such a voice professional may do. Light exercise and good rest are essential.
The most important thing, however, is simply understanding that auditions are the staple of voice work. It means very little to be turned down for a particular job. What is most important is becoming a pro at auditioning itself with little fixation on the outcome. Although this is easier said than done, the mark of a successful voice actress is seldom booking this or that particular job, but rather auditioning without discouragement.
Poor Understanding of the Script:
The script is the blueprint of voice work. Voice actresses must request one and understand it before committing to a particular take on a character.
Often, a full script will not be made available to an auditioning voice actress. In this case, a careful scene study will have to suffice. Who are the characters? What do they want? What is the subtext of the scene? These questions will help craft a more potent performance.
There are auditions were a voice actress is required to do a cold read. This means receiving a script during the audition and being expected to perform immediately with little or no preparation. Voice actresses may prepare for this by performing cold reads of new material, at home. This will give such a professional a glimpse into this practice and some experience of such an impromptu style of performing.
Taking on an Incorrect Style and Tone:
There are auditions in which a voice actress will take on a style or tone which is not quite appropriate. Often, this will happen because of a lack of communication with the team holding the audition or because a full script was not made available ahead of time.
To avoid this, voice actresses must strive to communicate with the staff auditioning them, asking about specific expectations they may have of the character. Poor communication, in general, is a stumbling block in successful auditioning.
Bad Temper and Manners:
Voice actresses, and in general any voice artist and professional, male or female, will do well to maintain a basic level of courtesy.
Often a motivated voice artist may forget to say hello, goodbye and to treat all members of staff adequately. These are easy fixes which may be done to increase success in the auditioning circuit.
Promotion (And Self-Promotion) for Voice Actresses
For better or worse, a great chunk of the work of voice actresses is that of promotion and marketing. It is not enough to master the craft. A solid strategy to show one’s talents and potential are of the essence. There are several things that a voice actress may do.
Demo Reel and Resume
The basic weapon of a voice actress is her demo reel. A reel will showcase talent and experience to a company or person who may hire her. Such a reel must be professionally recorded and be around 1 to 3 minutes long.
The resume is also important. In it, voice actresses must detail education, training, and experience. It is wise to invest the time and resources (perhaps a graphic designer, for instance) to have a resume of good quality.
A crucial aspect of voice acting is networking. A modicum of social skills and interaction with the industry is essential, particularly when breaking in. There are a few things a voice artist must remember when networking:
- It is important to reach out to people periodically. A voice artist must seek out past employers and acquaintances and try to talk to them from time to time.
- Taking part in industry events as much as possible is key. Although this sort of socializing may not be every voice artist’s cup of tea, attendance to this sort of event is useful.
- Creating an action plan. Such a plan could include meeting a certain number of key players in a certain amount of time.
Nowadays, the use of social media is critical for a voice artist. A well-established online presence in platforms such as YouTube can be very useful in generating a following and opening doors in the industry.
Famous Voice Actresses
Laura Bailey is an American voice actress. She primarily works in anime and video games. She dubs a great amount of content for English-speaking audiences and fans.
Bailey began acting in Plano, Texas. She was invited to an audition at Funimation, where she got her start. She explains: “I was doing some theater, and one of the actors who was in the show with me was working on Dragon Ball Z, and asked if I would come in and audition. So I did, and ended up getting the part of Kid Trunks, in addition to a few smaller roles. And it all just kept going from there.”
She made her debut as a young Trunks in Dragon Ball Z. Since then she has worked extensively and amassed a vast amount of credits. Bailey has also started directing and producing some projects as well.
Nancy Cartwright provides the voice for Simpsons characters such as Bart, Nelson, Ralphie, and Maggie.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Cartwright’s first mentor was Daws Butler, the voice behind Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. Her first voice role was as Gloria in ‘Richie Rich’ in 1980.
After working for several years, she got the part of Bart in The Simpsons in 1987 and has continued to play Bart throughout the show’s run. Cartwright has also taken part in other shows, playing Chuckie in ‘Rugrats’, amongst others.
Monica Rial is a voice actress widely known to anime fans in the West. She was born in Houston, Texas of partly Spanish descent and studied acting in the University of Houston. She has voiced a great number of famous anime characters.
Amongst them, she played Bulma in ‘Dragon Ball Z Kai’, a role with a special meaning for her. Rial explains: “My family is of course from Spain and so my brother fell in love with this show called Las Bolas del Dragon (Dragon Ball) that was on television, but he didn’t speak Spanish very well, so I would translate for him. Little did I know, that fifteen years later, I would be in Las Bolas del Dragon as Bulma.”
The Gist of It
Voice actresses works with their voice. They may create a vast range of work such as: voice-overs in documentaries, voices in animated film and television, audio ads or dubbing of foreign films.
Voice acting is, first and foremost, acting. The most relevant skills for successful voice acting are range, believability, and fullness in the voice. A voice actress must also discover her own particular and unique style.
Auditioning is a voice actresses’ main job. Auditions may be either in-person or online. A great chunk of the work of a voice actress is also promotion and marketing of her talent.