Recently, I was searching for some Indian sitar music on You Tube to meditate with, hoping it would get me to some Zen place where the primal secret to great voice-acting would be revealed to me in a wisp of smoke. A lightning bolt maybe.
As usual, before the music came on, an ad popped up. I rushed to skip it before my buzz was totally killed – but something made me freeze in my tracks; it was a voice – like nothing I’d quite heard before. It was a voice-actor having fun – letting loose in complete child-like abandon —
LISTEN and LEARN, my children:
There it was, laid out before me in this ad – the answer I was seeking!
The primal secret to great voice acting is to have fun!
It’s our job to play – play until we are exhausted, like we did as children. Play until the sun goes down, then run home, eat dinner, go to bed, and play all over again.
In this ad, Ty Burrell isn’t performing some impossible feat of comedic acting; he’s just given himself permission to let it rip – go for it – in the same devil-may-care-attitude we all did as kids!
It has been said repeatedly, by many actors and coaches; if you are not having fun in this business, you’d better get out. Why? Because when we are having fun, we are creating a fertile playground where creativity and imagination can sprout roots and lead to delightful performances!
In this stress-filled society, many of us don’t even know how to have fun anymore.
So, I’ve come up with a quick, easy to follow guide entitled: How to Have Fun as Voice Actors:
- Jump out of bed every day and run to the window to see what kind of day it is (kids do this each morning, before running outside to play).
- After checking to see what the weather is like, actually stick your head out the door and smell the fresh air. This will stimulate your olfactory system (another trick kids use) thus igniting your creative juices.
- Get excited about what you are having for breakfast (another kid trick). If you just bought a brand new package of Starbucks coffee – anticipate with glee, how great it will smell when you first open it.
- After eating, skip to your studio (this is mandatory)…anticipating the fun auditions that await you.
- Pick a spot to audition for that looks fun to you, trusting your innate knowledge of what’s in your wheelhouse – and what isn’t.
- Laugh with glee as you imagine how most folks will approach this spot as a lackluster spokesperson, while you — an expert in fun — can already see three novel approaches.
- After utterly enjoying the process of script analysis (because work should not feel like passing a kidney stone), you cheerfully and intuitively pick the most compelling take and send it off, with the same reckless abandon Ty Burrell displays in the Gain commercial.
- Then, you leave your studio to take your dog for a walk outside and have even more fun. Like a child, you aren’t even thinking about that audition anymore – you are anticipating your next fun studio adventure.
Last night, at about 3 am, I heard strange sounds outside my bedroom window. Something was clawing up my water fountain. I jumped out of bed, snuck up to the window, and peering through the crack, I discovered – with delight – a raccoon, taking a bath. “Hey Rocky,” I said, “what are you doing? Taking a bath?” Rocky got up on his hind legs, and for a few magical moments we starred into each other’s eyes. Then, he scampered off. “I love you!” I whispered loudly. Then smiling at how immature that was, I went back to bed.
Today, I had a particularly great day coaching. Everything flowed. The students and I laughed, and we came up with splendidly risky choices.
This evening, I started thinking about Rocky again, hoping he will return.
The sitar started playing…and I heard a voice say “you have learned well, Grasshopper.”
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SAV Coach, Nancy Wilson has been a part of the Los Angeles broadcasting scene for a large part of her career. She began in radio at KFWB News 980, moved to ABC Talkradio, then landed at KTWV FM The Wave for ten years as a staff announcer. She trained with The Groundlings and is now a busy voice actor. Nancy was recently cast as Mrs. Harriet Reynard in the SAG/AFTRA Radio Play, The Fat Man.