There are some great actor’s voices around: Jeremy Irons, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Ray Gosling, Bryan Cranston, Richard E Grant among them. James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman have trademark voices but for the most part, todays actors are great voice actors. They don’t have the trademark voice of actors of the twentieth century like Cary Grant, Orson Wells, Humphrey Bogart, Laurence Olivier. Today’s female actors are also great voice actors without having the trademark voice of past celebrity stars: Eartha Kit, Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Joan Collins. Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Saoirse Ronan Elizabeth Moss, Sarah Lancashire, Elizabeth Olsen and Judi Dench all have distinctive voices, but they’re not ‘trademark’ in that you can’t instantly define them and copy the allusion.
By comparison today’s top actors are good at voice acting. What would Shrek have been without Michael Myers, Antonio Banderas, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz or the Lion King without Chiwetel Ejiofor, Beyoncé, Donald Glover and Seth Rogan? What would the Call of Duty games have been without the voice of Gary Oldman? What would Beyond: Two Souls be without the voice of Ellen Page?
With celebrity actors voicing video games and animation, how can the yet to be famous voice actor get a job? Well the good news is the industry is posting more and more jobs on sites available to all voice actors. If you have access to a recording studio you can send in clips for jobs direct. If they like the clips you’ve posted on a site, it could be the Spotlight site, you may get asked to record something and send it from your phone. They need voices that sound like – you at your most human. Voice over agencies take on voice actors when they’ve done a few jobs and have established their zone. Accents and dialects are good, but they need to be your own or as good as.
There is dubbing work and ADR. Dubbing from English/American films into languages like Spanish and Danish is now better than the quality of dubbing into English. I’ve heard some dubbed English voices in period dramas on Netflix recently that have been…not great. There are some good ADR training courses. Sometimes the best ADR results come from when voice actors work only by listening. Be aware that low paid jobs (outside Equity rates) are available. If you choose to do them then make sure you don’t sacrifice your talent. If you’re a voice actor who wants to do more work, keep out there, keep practicing, keep perfecting your timing and technique. There are loads of resources on YouTube and online. Stephen Kemble’s Audio/Visual resource pack from his VoiceOver Book is relevant for its information on technique. You can download it from the www.oberonbooks.com/voiceover page. There will always be room for quality voice actors. Make sure you’re heard. Max Your Voice.