“Star Wars,” is one of the greatest cinematic wonders of all time. It launched the career of Harrison Ford, began a cult following of Carrie Fisher in a gold bikini and typecasted Mark Hamill. While Ford stuck with acting and Fisher tried her hand at writing, Hamill was stuck in a rut of constantly being Luke Skywalker. So Hamill, after minor film roles and a stint with the Muppets, tried his hand at Broadway. And to this day, most people still only know him as Luke Skywalker. But, in actuality, his greatest success came, not from “Keeping Up With the Skywalkers,” but from his legendary work in voice acting.
With roles such as the Joker in “Batman: Animated Series,” “Batman: Arkham” games, Firelord Ozai in “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” and Buzz Buzzard in “The New Woody Woodpecker Show,” among others, his versatility in the business is impressive.
Hamill, however, is just one of millions of voice actors in the world. Though these actors tend to be lesser known, they prefer a more subtle approach to the acting scene.
But how does one enter the world of theatrical vocal performance? Well, say no more, the Exponent is here to answer all of your questions.
Spend forever looking for just the right voice for you. Search every nook and cranny; even drag your mother into it, making her suffer with you. Once you find it however, it’s the most satisfying feeling in the world. You might be awesome at accents or weird voices, but none of that will matter if you don’t have a signature style to your voice. What makes your voice unique? Look to other voice acting performances in cartoons, anime, video games, etc. Many voice actors have a specialty. For example, many of Dee Bradley Baker’s works consist of animal/alien noises and noise effects. You don’t have to have a specific talent necessarily, but pinpoint where your skills truly lie, perfect them and then brush up on other voices so you’re more flexible.
Get tech savvy. Technology is pretty vital to vocal actors. Without it, you’ve got just another voice that can do crazy things. No, you don’t need a class in computer science. But you should equip yourself with recording, filming and editing tools for your computer. Start recording your voice, listen, improve and play around with it. This will be essential to the next step.
Make a demo. In other words, make a recording of yourself that sells your voice, like “Little Mermaid” Ariel-and-Ursula style. Introduce yourself, explain why you’re who they want and demonstrate your voice’s versatility. You could excel in accents, funny voices, mimicking, music, etc. An example of this would be “I’m the Greatest Star,” sung by the great Barbra Streisand in “Funny Face.” In this catchy tune, Streisand’s character does her best to convince the directors that she’s better than the stereotypical beauties that grace the stage. In doing so, she tells jokes with punchlines, makes different voices, belts at various ranges and confidently asserts that she truly is the “greatest star”.
Keep an eye out for auditions. As is known, acting in general is most prevalent in places like California and New York. There are other places, but these two are probably your best chances for success.
Get your agent. If you’re really dedicated and you’re putting yourself out there, then it’s a no-brainer to invest in someone who knows what they’re doing and wants your money. They will be essential to your much-needed marketing scheme. Marketing needs to happen to get your name out there. With the right agent, you’ll find the right auditions and slowly the cutthroat voice-over underworld will start to know your name.
Overall, do your research. Voice acting can be rewarding and an amazing experience, but you’ve got to prepare for the realities. When in doubt, google it. I recommend watching a 2013 documentary called“I Know That Voice” for greater insight into the people who dominate the industry. If voice acting is something you’re passionate about, kudos to you. The rest of us will secretly want to do it, but probably won’t do anything to accomplish it. You’ve got a challenging road and most likely a measly salary ahead of you. As is the case with most acting, it takes risks and persistence. Good luck to those of you venture into the unknown and may the force be with you.