Do you have what directors are looking for in character voices?
Not according to Sara Sherman, Executive Director for Disney Television Animation.
It really takes solid acting chops to be able to flesh out all the elements of a good character voice. So you must be unique in your characters.
“I don’t want to hear someone doing Mickey Mouse – I already know what Mickey Mouse sounds like,” says Sara. So make sure your character voice demo never includes character voices that someone else has already done. Include examples of only the strongest, most unique characters you can master.
Now let’s get to acing that character voice audition. What do you need to consider before cracking open that mic?
ACING THE CHARACTER VOICE AUDITION
1. “Really study the copy,” says Sara. It’s important to understand and be able to express ALL SIDES of the character you are portraying. Know how to adjust your pitch, pace and volume and still stay in character to express the many moods your character will be using.
2. Bring as much of your own personality into the character as possible. Your own unique audio sound effects are great for really adding flavor to the part. Consider laughing, sighing, snorting, squealing, yawning and other verbal expressions of sound as part of you and your character. As Sara says, “Only YOU can do YOU.” So add YOU!
3. MAKE ‘em LAUGH! Sara listens to nearly 500 auditions when casting for animated television shows, and if she hears a talent that can “find the funny” and deliver the line a way that makes her laugh, it really stands out from the crowd.
4. Be able to take direction. Nothing is more heartbreaking to the casting director than having a talent with the perfect voice and spirit of a character that cannot follow directions. Never walk into an audition and say “I can only do this one way.” In fact, it’s a good idea to always have a second version of your character on hand in case the first attempt is rejected. So be prepared to do something different if the director asks for it. Reflect back on what the director requests.
Instead of saying “uh-huh”, actually repeat the director’s instructions to make certain you understand what they are asking. It’s all part of that crazy creative process!
5. Do your homework! This means do your research and know where the show is going to air! Many networks have very different “styles” and audiences for animated content, and knowing where it airs should make a difference in your interpretation of the characters.
“When it comes to performance, don’t hesitate,” says Sara. “Be bold and vibrant, and by all means, color outside the lines with your take on the script. Directors would rather have you go too big with your performance than have you hold back. Remember, it is better to takes risks and show your range than to deliver something that doesn’t have any punch to it.”
The best way to really get a solid footing with doing character work is to HAVE FUN! You really can’t fake fun, and casting directions can only hear that certain something coming through in your performance if you are genuinely having a ball playing that character. It will leave you exhausted, exhilarated, sweaty and out of breath when you come out of that voice over booth, and although it can be hard work, I guarantee it will be the MOST fun you have doing a voice-over!
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Lisa Foster is an award-winning voice-over artist and radio personality with over 20 years of experience and a client list that includes some of the biggest brands in the world. For more of her work, visit her website lisafoster.com.