The Wannabe Voice-Over Artist / by Krista Boivie

Twice a year the local university publishes a continuing education catalog, inside it lists all sorts of interesting personal enrichment classes.  I have taken a few painting classes over the years--but the class I had been dying to take was the voice-over class.  The only thing stopping me was the price.

In January, I was reading a blog about barriers.  What really got to me was a question at the end of the post:

What do you really want to do that you keep putting off?

I felt like the entry was speaking to me and within five minutes I had booked the voice-over class.  For the past four weeks I have been taking lessons with the fabulous, Alice Whitfield, and I've been loving every moment of it.

Here are five lessons I have learned in the past month:

  1. Not everyone can do voice-overs. Voice-over acting is part learned skill and part innate ability.  It is way more than just reading into a mic.
  2. You have to be willing to take direction.  Great voice-over artists have three skills; 1) they listen well, 2) they have great instincts, and 3) they can take direction.  If you can't handle constructive criticism this is not the field for you.
  3. It is not about "me". Being a great voice-over artist is all about transforming the copy and making it come to life.  It is acting and as soon as I start worrying about me in the performance--the performance will end up terrible.  The first time I was in the recording booth to tape a commercial, I was really nervous.  Alice had to remind me that it was about the copy--not me and there was no reason to be nervous.  
  4. I am a natural.  There have only been two times in my life when someone has called me natural at something.  The first was when I became a teacher and this is the second.  I credit my ability to a number of factors.  First, I come from a family of great readers. Second, I have taken acting classes, performed on stage and competed in dramatic poetry readings. Third, I have made hundreds of podcasts (although my students would argue that they are not very exciting); Fourth, I read aloud frequently to my students and I try to make the passages as interesting as possible.
  5. Regret. I don't regret many things, but this is definitely one of them.  I can't believe it took me FIVE YEARS to sign up for classes.  I could hit myself I am so upset.  Five years I could have been making extra money on the side.  Ugh!

I enjoyed the month of lessons so much I have decided to continue with private lessons and work towards making my demo reel.  I will be writing follow-up posts that go into more detail on how one becomes a voice-over artist.

So, what do you really want to do that you keep putting off?