From Whence We Came

by | Aug 25, 2009 | Advice, Op/Ed, Relationships

freelance‘Last time I checked, there were no institutions of higher learning that offered a BS, or BA, or BFA, or ANY alphabet-soup-degree in voice-acting, voiceover, or movie trailers.

Communications?  Sure!
Theatre?  Yep.
Broadcasting?  Uh-huh.

But if there’s a degree in “voice” anywhere, you can bet it has to do with singing.

So how does one fall into this business?

About as many ways as there are people in it.

My guess is the preponderance of accomplished voice-actors today had their start in radio.  They’re the same ones telling eager radio graduates/VO wannabees to lose the radio style of delivery.  Probably because THEY had to.

So I feel as I’m in the good company of the Joe Cipriano’s, the Randy Thomas’, the Frank Frederick’s of the world who graduated with a BS in radio BS.  My first job was at KCCC radio “The Golden Country Sound” of  Carlsbad, NM.

I loved radio, but the camera liked my face.  I was lured by the TV anchor salaries, too, and got waylaid for the better part of the last 30 years in TV news.

I wrestle with the question of whether to tout that experience when marketing my voice-acting business.

One school of thought claims it’s a detriment to potential commercial clients. In their minds, 30 years of delivering the news has left me permanently scarred.  I couldn’t possibly deliver ad copy in anything else but a stilted, announcery, pedantic manner. Hence, I’m only good for e-learning, medical narrations, and an occasional IVR job.

The other school of thought bids me to build on my TV anchor reputation to vault me into voice acting.  After all, a successful TV news anchor obviously has presence, reliability, likability, a good work ethic, and knows a few things about holding audience attention. TV News Anchors have been admonished by their consultants for decades to “be yourself”…”talk directly TO your viewers on a personal level”…and make it conversational.

Sound familiar?

Don’t those qualities count for something in creating a successful VO business?

I prefer to build on the latter, and focus on losing the news patter.  My feloniously perceptive voice coach – Nancy Wolfson – claims my crutch is not falling into “announcery”…it’s shifting into the comfortable “happy” mode when I don’t know how else to inflect a line.  Most news anchors are approval junkies…so the default is say it in a way that will make the viewer feel comfortable.  However, a good bit of commercial copy has attitude, sarcasm, and cynicism…none of which is considered good form in a middle-of-the-road, keep-all-viewers-at-all-costs newscast!

So until Tufts or Tulane or TCU breaks rank and offers that BA in voice-acting, the rest of us are going to have to make our own way…the pioneering and enterprising of it will only make us more marketable anyway.




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