Has anyone ever told you that you have a great voice? Or maybe you enjoy imitating character voices? If so, you may be a perfect candidate for a voice actress.
This post has been updated in August 2021.
A voice actress performs voice overs to give the audience information or bring life to a character, whether it’s animated, non-visible, off-screen, or on-screen. Voice actresses work for feature films, animated movies, video games, amusement rides, documentaries, audiobooks, radio dramas, television programs, and foreign-language movies. She may also be tasked to be someone’s singing or second voice.
When you start learning to build your vocal abilities and discover more about how awesome your voice is, your dream of becoming a successful voice actress may become a reality. And this guide will tell you what you need to know about joining this rewarding profession.
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What Is a Voice Actress?
Voice actresses are some of the luckiest people in the world. Their incredible job allows them to make money by having fun. By now, you may be thinking that you can’t be a voice actress because you don’t have any related experience in the field. Fortunately, even the most popular voice actresses started from scratch.
The main job of a voice actress is to interpret a script. This role is important since the script plays a major role in how a character comes off to their audience. Therefore, the voice actress absorbs the writer’s idea and works with a director or producer to understand the mannerisms of a character and bring the vision to life.
A voice actress knows how to understand the emotions that she needs to apply in every scene, and how to show a connection between characters. However, this would be impossible to achieve without proper characterization or the ability to change her voice to fit a character. A voice actress must know the ideal pitch of her voice needed to suit the scenes of different characters with soft or loud voices. Similarly, a voice actress must be a master at changing the quality of her voice for advertisements to help entice customers more effectively.
Why You Should Become a Voice Actress
Not all women with a great voice can be a voice actress without preparation. It takes a lot of dedication, effort, and skills. If you’re willing to put in the work to become a voice actress, here are the advantages that you will experience.
When you are a voice actress, you don’t have to create any script yourself. All you have to do is practice and record your voice. Since you read from a script, you don’t need to memorize lines before doing a scene. However, that’s not to say voice actresses shouldn’t be familiar with their lines before doing their work; but when you are in front of a camera or a studio, your audience has no way of knowing that you are reading from a script. This quality would serve as your security blanket, especially if you are working on many projects and have no time to memorize your lines.
For actresses, going through tedious hours of hair, makeup, and costume changes is very tiring. A voice actress does not need to tailor their physique and looks to any character they give life to. They only need to master their voices. Think about it, when Idina Menzel lent her voice to Elsa in Frozen, she did not have to wear a white wig and a blue gown to fit the role. She came to the studio in her regular clothes and gave life to the iconic role.
Voice actresses get paid on a project basis. So the answer to how much money you will make solely depends on how the projects you get assigned. But on average, voice talents make more than $90,000 annually.
The wage of voice actresses also varies depending on the type of job they are doing, the size of the project, location, and experience. For instance, your rate will depend on the skill level that you have in your niche. Newcomers in the industry may go with general voice-overs before they specialize. But professionals may have a specific niche, such as audiobooks, video game voices, and animation. This difference is why there are voice actresses that are worth millions, while others price their jobs for around $50 per small project.
To calculate your pay as a voice actress, you have to know the number of words involved as well as the duration of your recording. However, this may not be a good basis for some professionals since the speed of their speaking voice, and the length of the words they say may affect the duration.
You may also establish your rate depending on the usage of the material. For example, is your client going to use your minute-long commercial for a learning application? If so, you may have to charge less than something that would be broadcasted online. If the content runs on many websites, you could get more than $200 for a small project.
One of the things that stands out the most about being a voice actress is the relative anonymity. You often won’t get bothered by the paparazzi hounding you, even if you have a high profile in the industry. This benefit is why many celebrities went into voice acting- to take a break from the limelight.
As a voice actress, you have the freedom to work whenever and wherever. You may even record in your house and not waste time dressing up and putting on makeup. For a typical voice actress, all they need is a pair of reading glasses, and they’re all set.
When you have the flexibility to work from your home, you can have more time to explore your passions and hobbies while still making a decent income to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.
Meet great people
Most of the time, a voice actress needs to collaborate during the production with other professionals, including directors, voice engineers, and producers. This characteristic will ensure that they deliver quality output. Voice actresses will usually get instructions from directors on what they need to improve on a particular job. Because of this, they will have a chance to collaborate with great minds. If a voice actress does well on a particular project, the people they worked with will recommend them for future projects.
How to Be a Voice Actress
Now that you know the benefits of being a voice actress, you’re probably excited to start your journey. So let’s take a look at areas to develop for success in this career.
As an effective voice actress, you need to convey the message contained in a script and give life to it. You are expected to interpret each script differently. This requirement is why you focus on practicing your skills. Learn how you can deliver a script in many different ways. Keep in mind the purpose of each script. This method is the only way you can emotionally connect with it and give it authenticity.
As you work in the industry, you need to practice various voice-over techniques for getting into character. Many voice talents love reading out loud, especially when they are warming up for a job. As you continue to practice, you will expand your range of vocal control and the number of characters you can do.
Always remember that acting is the cornerstone of this profession. You should assess whether or not you need a coach. This way, you will have someone to help improve your performance for all the aspects of the job, may it be in feature films, animated characters, or ads.
Even if you already have acting experience, you will have an edge if you train with a coach since acting in a studio is quite different. When you only have a mic, you cannot rely on your facial expressions or movements. It can be much trickier to pull off without these cues available.
Many voice actresses work freelance style. So if you plan on taking this route, you have to be prepared.
No matter how amazing your vocal prowess, you will not be successful in the industry if you don’t master the marketing side of your career. You are your own sales team, customer service, accounting team, and CEO. So you should treat your voice as your product. Just like other business owners, you are expected to promote your services to your current and potential clients.
Because you are your boss, you will do your work at your own pace. Embrace all the challenges that this presents, such as establishing yourself in the saturated market. To do this, treat marketing as something as important as your voice. Just like your voice, it can be something you can develop, but you can also outsource other key aspects, such as your website and business cards.
Getting the right equipment
When you’re a newcomer in the industry, you need to invest in the right equipment to build your home studio. Otherwise, things can get very expensive. For example, visiting a professional studio every single time you need a demo will add up. A few critical pieces of equipment will allow you to record your voice professionally yourself.
First, you will need a microphone to capture your voice. The quality of your microphone will greatly affect your recordings. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend a lot to get something that will deliver quality output.
To complement your microphone, you need a stand. This tool will ensure that your microphone won’t swing around. Rather, it will stay in a fixed position. It is also recommended to get pop filters to eradicate unnecessary noise. When you don’t have this screen, the popping “p” and hissing “s” sounds you make won’t get diffused and can sound awful.
Aside from these, you will also need headphones so you can hear your voice overs with superior quality. You can also use your headphones to block out external sounds as you are recording to prevent distractions. Finally, you need a free or purchased recording software so you can edit your voice overs.
Every voice actress needs a voice-over demo to showcase their skills. Using your equipment, you need to make your demo to present to potential clients and agents. Think of your voice-over demo as an all-in-one resume and business card. The listeners should be able to appreciate your voice range as they listen to it.
Demos are usually short – around a minute to a minute and a half long, and feature a small file size. This way, clients can listen to it conveniently. However, some clients may request longer demos when you are auditioning for feature films and audiobooks. If so, try to provide many voices that showcase your range.
Ready to Become a Voice Actress Superstar?
Women have so many opportunities when it comes to being a voice actress. Because of the nature of their voice, they are associated with teaching and non-threatening instructions for videos or ads. The high-pitched quality of their voice also allows them to give life to a wide array of characters.
You may be scared and intimidated now, but remember that every pro was once a beginner too.
So are you ready to start your journey to be a voice actress?
Start your journey of becoming a voice actress here in Bunny Studio.