Ever wonder what it’s like to be the voice behind an animated character? How about the voice behind a commercial pitch or the lead character in a video game? Look no further. Veteran voice actor Greg Chun, known for voicing George Roberts in “Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures,” Ike in “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” and Takayuki Yagami in “Judgment,” shares a typical day in the life of a voice artist and offers insights for those considering a career in the field.
What’s a typical day look like for you?
“I wake up and see what auditions are due in the morning, and I’ll jump in my home studio by around 8 o’clock to hammer those out. Then I’ll leave to go to my recording sessions for jobs I’ve already booked for that day. Afterwards, if I have more auditions to do, I’ll try to run home and record them in my studio. But if I don’t have time, I’ll literally do them on my phone in the car. Once I’m back home, I knock out any remaining auditions that need to be completed by the end of the day. Sometimes I have to pass on auditions because I run out of time, but obviously, you try and do every audition that you can because that’s what keeps your business going. And then everything starts all over the next day.”
That sounds like a lot of opportunities coming your way. Have you always been that busy as a voice actor?
“I booked the first thing my agent brought me in to read for when I was just starting out, and it was an amazing feeling. I was thinking that it was going to be super easy, and I was going to be all set. Then I didn’t book anything for like a year and a half. But you persevere. If it’s not the kind of thing that’s in your bones and you just love, you’re not going to withstand those moments of massive dry spells. You’ll just give up and move on. But if it’s something you just have to do, then you stick with it.”
What other advice would you give someone interested in starting his or her own career in voice acting?
“I think it’s really important to know that the voiceover business is not about doing funny voices. There’s an understanding, much like on-camera work, that it’s about what you bring and who you are because you’re the only person who’s doing you. Most often, we’re being hired to be more or less ourselves, so you don’t need to be able to do a thousand different crazy voices to be able to make it. As far as practical tips, there are two sites that are invaluable for voice actors who want to learn and grow more: ‘VO Buzz Weekly’ and ‘I Want to Be a Voice Actor.’”
So, if people decide to take the leap and pursue it, what can they look forward to in their own days ahead as voice actors?
“One of the things I love most about this business is the community. It really is a community of wonderful, supportive people. I mean, we will refer each other for jobs. If we are asked to do a certain voice in an audition that we’re not capable of doing, we’ll say, ‘Well, I don’t do that very well, to be honest. But you know who does?’ And we’ll refer the other voice actor. That is unheard of in the on-camera world, to say, ‘I’m not really right for this part, but I’ll go ahead and tell you someone who is.’”
It is the goal of working actors to be invited to multiple auditions for both commercial and theatrical (film and television) projects on the same day, every week, year-round. To reach that goal, you have to be able to quickly switch gears, and be familiar and comfortable with each type of project.
To be successful in the long run, both commercial and theatrical auditioning require a solid acting background, professionalism and dedication. On first glance, you’d think there were huge differences between these two types of auditions, differences that can seem overwhelming. But it’s actually surprising how many similarities exist between the two. Demystifying these similarities and differences can help you take the correct steps toward your long-term goals.
Receiving Copy and Preparing for Your Audition
For a theatrical audition, you receive your sides a day or two in advance. Your sides are scenes selected out of the entire script. In commercials, you don’t receive your copy in advance, you receive it at the audition. Therefore, with commercial auditions, you need to learn how to be very good at the cold read.
In the Audition Room
In commercial auditions—and frequently in theatrical auditions—there is always a camera present. The big difference, though, is that in a commercial audition, where you may be one character speaking to another, you have to relate to the camera as if it were the other character (unless you’re told differently). In a theatrical audition, you don’t look at the camera. The camera is simply in the room to capture your audition for later review.
Script/Sides: to Hold or Not to Hold
In commercial auditions, you do not hold your script. There will be a cue card in the room with all your lines on it. Ideally, the card is placed close to the camera lens for easy reference. The camera should be your main focus, with your eyes going back and forth between the camera and the cue card. Your eyes should be truthful and honest, giving the feeling that you’re addressing whomever you’re supposedly talking to.
Casting directors aren’t allowed to ask you to memorize commercial copy. If we do, according to the SAG-AFTRA commercial union contract, you would be due a payment for the audition. With the proper training, you can become good at cold reads. A good cold-read audition never feels stale or over-rehearsed.
In a theatrical audition, the sides are sent to you ahead of time and even if you memorized them, you should hold them to glance at if needed. This gives the (correct) impression that your audition is not your finished piece of work. This also gives the casting director the feeling that you’re not stuck on only one way of performing your scene and that there is room for you to be directed .
Commercial copy can be broken down the same way as theatrical copy. I look at preparing for a commercial audition the same way you would a short scene—and I teach this technique as well. In engaging with every read, I tell actors to ask themselves who they are, where they are, to identify the emotions needed for the scene, and to break the script down into beats. In a short amount of time, you need to give the feeling of connecting to whomever you are speaking to and creating the feeling that you are in a specific place. A good way to add substance to your read is through the use of backstories.
The Decision-making Process
There is definitely a big difference in who the decision-makers are between the commercial and theatrical worlds (link to blog “Who Are the Commercial Decision-Makers?”). The commercial decision-makers usually come from an ad agency and can be made up of as many as eight layers of people: The writer, art director, producer, creative supervisor, creative director, account executive, client and director (hired by the production company to shoot the spot). If it’s a small ad agency, there may be fewer layers of decision-makers. Networks, cable television and film have a different pecking order. Research the layers of decision-makers typical to the format you’re working in to gain an understanding and comfort level with it.
When the breakdown is first put out, the talent will be told the shoot dates. Then, when it comes down to final choices, the actors will be contacted to make sure they’re still available for the specified shoot dates. The actor is also agreeing to notify casting of any changes during the final selection-booking process. In commercials, casting will put the talent on “avail.” For theatrical, the typical lingo is “pinned.”
In both commercial and theatrical auditions, there are similarities in the final stage of booking. At this time, the talent should again be given the terms of agreement that appeared on the breakdown, that is, the shoot dates and all other details that will make up the final contractual agreement. If you’re pinned or on avail, this is your chance to make sure that there haven’t been any changes that would be to your disadvantage and that you agree with the terms before you accept your booking.
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Every day great roles are added to the Casting Billboard. Below are highlighted projects from this week!
Rate: $500 (2 days) | Female/Male, Various Ethnicities | Internet
ROLES Principal GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES Female / 20-55 / Various Ethnicities
DESCRIPTION 30 Second Internet Commercial. Man paints his home in urban camouflage. Neighbors passing by are curious to is happening. Mail Woman is surprised to see that the house she is delivering mail to has disappeared.
Rate: TBA | Female/Male, Various Ethnicities | Television
ROLES Series Regular GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES Female & Male / Teens (to play 14) / Various Ethnicities
DESCRIPTION An examination on what it means to grow up in America, through the lens of AAU basketball. Based on the early life of basketball star Kevin Durant.
Rate: SAG-AFTRA scale – Bg $120 and Under 5 $962 | Female/Male, All Ethnicities | Television
ROLES Background GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES Female & Male / Various Ages / All Ethnicities
DESCRIPTION Pre-taped segment for the award show with DK Khaled hosting. Seeking SAG-AFTRA members as Extras to play production staffers & an under 5 Director role
To see all the roles available on the Casting Billboard, LOG IN OR SIGN UP HERE.
The former Iron Fist lead will play a criminal profiler with an intriguing and salacious family history in Fox’s Prodigal Son pilot.
Are you working on a TV show or film in New York? Have you worked on one in the past or hope to work on one in the future? You may not realize it, but your opportunities to work are at risk.
John Magaro (The Umbrella Academy), Lance Reddick (John Wick franchise), Jemima Kirke (Girls), MC Lyte (Patti Cake), Alano Miller (Underground), Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me), and Tone Bell (Little) have signed on to join the cast of Sylvie, the romantic Jazz Era film which is being led by Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha.
Welcome to ACTING UP. This is the eighth installment in a regular Casting Networks feature designed to call attention to standout roles and performances in television/streaming and film. It will spotlight work in projects that have recently been released as well as work in projects being released that same week. The column will also tell you how those actors and actresses got to where you see them now. Read up and watch these performances as your weekly in-home acting class.
Eighth up: Jake Manley, who stars in the supernatural horror series “The Order that premiered Thursday on Netflix; and Charlotte Beckett, who costars with Lindsay Lohan in the action horror thriller “Among the Shadows” that hit theaters on Wednesday.
THE PERFORMER: Jake Manley
THE SERIES: “The Order” on Netflix
THE PERFORMANCE: Manley – complete with dimpled chin – is the essence of hunky cool in “The Order” as Jack Morton, a young guy who gets accepted to what appears to be the strangest institution of higher learning of all time: A place called Belgrave University where the fraternity pledges tend to get seriously injured or killed while performing occult-style rituals.
Jack is out to avenge his mother’s death, and he has a spooky partner in crime in his Grandpa Pete (Matt Frewer of “Max Headroom” fame). Everybody at this university tends to talk in circles about weird secret societies and blue roses, but Manley acquits himself well as a kind of poor man’s Johnny Depp.
“This is insane! I did not sign up for this!” Jack insists at one point. Except that he’s wrong; he actually did sign up for it. In blood. “Who wouldn’t want unlimited power?” he asks rhetorically at one point. Certainly not him.
“If I were you,” he emphasizes to some schoolmates at one point, “I’d be doing everything in my power to make sure that townie doesn’t get in.” Yes, he said “townie.” It’s like a small town in Hell. “But the one to watch out for,” Jack adds, “is the Screaming Lady. Her ghost still wanders the hall.”
The guy sure knows a lot for a punk freshman. But he’s got the brooding charmer vibe down cold.
THE CAREER: Manley’s career is about to explode – in a good way. He in fact has six projects dropping in 2019. Besides “The Order,” they include he high school tech drama “TMI Crossing the Threshold”; the indie thrilled “Hotwired in Suburbia”; the Canadian drama “Brotherhood”; the family drama “A Dog’s Journey” from beloved canine novelist W. Bruce Cameron (premiering in May); and the WWII docudrama “Midway” coming in November from director Roland Emmerich.
Not too shabby for a guy still passing for a teenager (though he’s actually 27).
THE PERFORMER: Charlotte Becket
THE FILM: The indie feature “Among the Shadows”
THE PERFORMANCE: Beckett, a product of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), portrays Kristy Wolfe, a private eye looking to unravel the murder of her uncle in this creepy low-budget thriller. Did I mention she also descends from a long line of werewolves? And that she headlines alongside none other than Lindsay Lohan?
In fact, Lohan portrays a vampire to Beckett’s werewolf, giving her a role to really sink her teeth into. It also turns out that Lohan’s character, Patricia, also married a werewolf. Talk about your mixed marriages. It sets up the following conversation:
Kristy: “Why would a vampire marry a wolf?”
Patricia: “Because I love him.”
Kristy: “What makes you so sure the killer you’re looking for is one of us, and not one of you – and by you, I mean vampire?”
Patricia has no response to that. But it’s just as well.
Beckett turns in an earnest, sassy performance as the wolfy investigator, following a script that allows her to drolly utter things like, “Someone out there knows I’m dealing with some very unpleasant people” and “Every so often, something occurs to tip the scales. This is where it gets complicated.”
THE CAREER: While “Among the Shadows” is Beckett’s choicest role to date, she also has a part in the forthcoming indie feature “Nicole & O.J.” that’s currently shooting. The British actress doesn’t play Nicole but someone named Karen Crawford. (Charlotte Kirk portrays Nicole Brown Simpson.)
Beckett also appeared in the Polish indie crime drama “Olive Green” in 2014 and in an episode of Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” in 2015.
Helms will portray a Detroit cop and Henson will play his girlfriend. He reluctantly teams with her 11-year-old son to clear his name and take down the city’s most ruthless criminal.
Deadline’s latest articles announcing the most recent pilot season attachments.
Jon Beavers (The Long Road Home) and Grant Harvey (The Crossing) are set for recurring roles on the upcoming fourth season of TNT’s flagship drama series Animal Kingdom.