Expanding Into Voice Over

by Rhonda Jackson Sykes

First let me say thank you to Jeffery Brooks and the Inner Circle Theatre for giving me the opportunity of writing the October newsletter. I can’t believe October is here already, seems like just yesterday it was the start of summer. Well, here’s to taking these last few months of the year to be productive and to be an inspiration to someone. You’d be amazed at how much of a difference you can make in someone’s life. Here’s to a new month, a new month filled with new beginnings and endless possibilities. I got the chance to participate in the Voice Over workshop with Donna Grillo in September. Thank you to Jeffery Brooks, Elena Campbell-Martinez and Inner Circle Theatre for setting that up.

I was very excited for the Voice Over workshop. I’ve wanted to try my hand at Voice Over work and I wasn’t sure really what to expect and I have to tell you I was very impressed. Donna was such a joy to work and study with. She makes Voice Over work look so easy. She really knows her stuff and it was very beneficial to hear all of her knowledge. The class was given two sides and we brought in our own flash drives so that we were able to get our work recorded. The first sets of sides were animation copy. This was a fun copy to read and sink our teeth into. In the sides we were to look for clues or hints as to how we saw the characters. Donna told us that for animation copies and all sides that there are key words to look for. For the animation sides, one thing that is helpful is the idea of impersonating someone that we know. We all have someone in our life that has a voice that could help when choosing the voices for the characters. It could be your husband, wife, a family member, friends, etc. It’s the key in animation.   You can also Google and check for material on YouTube, look at your old television shows from the 1960’s and check out their characters. We were given a few minutes to look over the copy and to figure out how we wanted to do the copy. I really enjoyed watching everyone work and seeing their development of characters. I was in awe of the voices everyone used for the characters. You could tell that we all had fun and it was invigorating to have the ability of being free to just let go.

The second copy we were given was from a commercial. Donna informed us that the key to commercials is that we are selling a product; remember to look for the hints, the stings, otherwise known as the little words that sell the company’s product. Most commercials that are out now are for insurance, health care, and automobiles. It’s up to us to make the consumer feel secure, happy that they purchased the product.   The copy should be more of a conversation. This round was another exciting set to watch. We all had a certain way of reading the copy and the tone in our voices was very soothing, and that’s why when we hear commercials on the radio there are some that are more memorable than others. I can name a few commercials off the top of my head that I always remember and I am sure you guys have a few as well. So as our workshop was wrapping up, Donna talked with us about the business side of Voice Over work and reminded us to start taking Voice Over classes, immerse ourselves and find the characters, find the audience, too. She also told us that our audition technique has to be awesome, and to give the best audition. I found that to be something that as actors we should all remember. Six steps ring a bell for actors in the Inner Circle? Best audition technique ever. We can start doing our recordings at home; start with programs such as Audacity or Garage Band. Find a place in your home that is good for recording, set up your dresser and make it baffled, be sure to use pillows. You don’t want an echo. We were told to learn to network and get to know producers and animators and learn to get creative. Make sure to read on a daily basis and practice reading everything for 30 minutes a day. You become your best judge. Think about your decision for a specific field: Commercial, Animation, Promos, Industrials, and Games. You have to find an agent and don’t expect your agent to do things for you, look out for yourself. Donna teaches at The Voiceover Connection. The website for more information is http://www.thevoconnection.com/ You should check her out if you get the chance. I hope to see you there.

So thanks for reading and remember to keep honing your craft, stay confident, focused and all your hard work will pay off. Just be. Trust yourself. You have had the power all along.