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Acting Versus Over

Fortunately and Unfortunately, I do not have too much to report since the last post. I’ve been busy with my day jobs and finishing costumes, so admittedly I’ve not been auditioning as much as I could be. However, I have still gotten work and have recently accepted a project that will pay 10X the amount I normally make. Needless to say, I am very pleased with my progress.

However, the more I focus on marketing and getting work, the more I am realizing that there really are different avenues in the voice over world.

It’s always been my personal opinion that there is a difference between Voice Acting and Voice Over. As a Voice over talent, you lend your communication skills to commercials, E-Learning, IVRs and the like. With Voice Acting you are quite literally acting with your voice. The one project-type that straddles the line is Narration. With audiobooks, you do tend to invest yourself in each separate character more than the average voice over project. However, you do not go so far as to full-delve into the characterization as you would with voice acting.

I’ve had limited opportunities to discuss this idea with others. Mostly, my conversations are with those who are only thinking of entering the industry and have not had any first-hand experience. However, I quickly realized that all of my training for voice work has been with Voice Over Talent.

First, let me say – there is nothing wrong with being a Voice Over Talent. I am in no way saying they are any less skilled or knowledgeable than a Voice Actor. However, there are different techniques one must employ – you do not approach a commercial and a cartoon the same way.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts; I have studied for years the art of acting.

I have also studied with a Vocal Coach and have read a book on breaking into the industry.

Therefore, I feel I am qualified to say that I have studied both techniques enough to know that while they are similar, there are differences.

I have also lent my voice to all types. My first experience with Voice over was with the Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic Organization. I then went on to voice characters for two Independent video games. My first paying project was a child’s audiobook. And now, I almost exclusively work on commercials, IVRs and E-learning.

Once again, I have seen both sides.

Acting is my passion and doing any voice work is a true joy – but there are differences.

When I started on my vocal journey, my goal was to be a Voice Actress. I wanted to voice characters in tv shows and video games. Money wasn’t important to me; I wanted to entertain. I then studied with my vocal coach and learned to address myself as a Voice Over Talent/Artist. I was able to record a Character demo but it was still just for commercials. Telling myself that we all must start somewhere, I planned on bulking up my resume enough with any work I could get and once I could prove I was a true professional, I could go after my goal of voice ACTING.

However, finding projects to audition for was an obstacle I was not prepared for. Rejection, yes. But lack of opportunity… that was a surprise.

So, I then read Bill Dewees’ book, which I reviewed in a previous post. And in there, he made it very clear that he was a Voice Over Talent. It saddened me that he said he didn’t even pursue character roles because they didn’t pay as well as other jobs. (He then contradicted himself by saying we should take the lower paying jobs b/c instead of thinking “hourly wage” we should be thinking “Daily income”). Again, I told myself that this was right on track with my plan – I would get multiple agents and Advertising companies to be my regular clients. Surely, once I became successful enough, the Creative organizations would give my demo a listen.

But obviously, nothing that’s worth it come easily. I’ve submitted my demo and have gotten a surprisingly positive response. However, most can’t take me b/c I am not local or they don’t have any availability.  (Amazing Demo but we’ve no space; best of luck to you!) And all the while I’m thinking – is this really the right plan of action?

I’ve only auditioned for two character roles through my agent and neither one was an actual fit – we sorta just ‘forced’ my voice to work but I knew I wouldn’t be considered. Everything I’ve done since I officially started has been Voice Over work. But my dream is to be a Voice Actor.

Once again – I am not complaining. I’ve enjoyed every project I’ve worked. The issue I have is that what I’m going after is not actually what I want. Certainly, I do want to continue doing commercials. But my dream was, is and always will be to entertain. To bring a character to life. I want to be an actress and I made a decision to focus on Voice Acting. But I’m really setting up my Voice Over career.

All of this has taught me that my initial thought was right. If someone were to ask me to simply explain the difference between Voice Acting and Voice Over, I would say – it’s the difference between Fiction & Non-Fiction. True, they are both books and neither one is more or less important than the other, but their purpose differs. They way they are presented and the process of creating them – that’s all different.

For those who are interested in Voice Acting, I highly recommend http://www.iwanttobeavoiceactor.com by Dee Bradley Baker. However, for those who have already trained and have demo reels, it doesn’t help much to get to the next part.

The main issue I am currently facing is – how do I find the auditions for tv shows/video games? Most large companies go through talent agencies but they don’t specify which and my agent only works with Cartoon Network and PBS. It seems the most advice I get is “move to LA” but I’m just not financially ready for that sort of thing.

For now, I’ll continue what I’m doing. I understand nothing happens overnight and I would still like to work as a Voice Over artist. However, I am now certain that this is not the path to becoming a Voice Actress.

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