I recorded my first voice-over “job” when I was eighteen years old.
I nervously walked into a radio station to inquire about any opportunities they might have for a budding voice talent to get behind the microphone and on the air. One of their production directors who happened to be within earshot of the front desk invited me back to one of the studios to record a quick promo for an upcoming Britney Spears concert tour that was stopping in Charlotte. After my micro-session, I walked back to my car feeling nine feet tall because I had just recorded my first voice-over session. I was officially a professional voice talent.
Well, sort of.
Here’s the thing. There are a LOT of people who will accept your proposition to offer your voice-over services for free. While I believe there’s value in doing so, I also believe you walk a fine line when you offer your services pro bono. That’s why I encourage you to use the utmost discretion when engaging in these opportunities. You’re a smart cookie. You’re also incredibly talented, and we both know the kind of time and money you’ve invested to get you to this point.
I’m extremely selective when offering my voice-over services pro bono outside of lending my voice to non-profits and causes I believe in. However, there is one exception: collaborating with budding animators whose style and stories I connect with.
There are a LOT of crazy talented folks on this big planet. Many of them can be found through various crowdsourcing platforms, such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, as well as colleges and universities around the country (and even the world!). If an attractive project comes to my attention, I may be inclined to offer my voice-over services in exchange for a copy of the finished product that I can showcase on my voice-over/video reel.
I also want to encourage you to be open to opportunities where you can offer your gift of voice-over to the greater good! One of my favorite organizations to volunteer my voice to is LearningAlly.org. Learning Ally is a nationally recognized non-profit dedicated to helping blind, visually impaired and dyslexic students succeed in education. Learning Ally asks its volunteer readers to narrate audiobooks that offers visually impaired and dyslexic students the chance to listen to the literature and educational textbooks that their peers read.
Another fantastic organization to lend your talents to is BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools). BookPALS is a signature children’s literacy program of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. BookPALS provides union performers who are gifted in the art of storytelling the opportunity to give back to their local communities. Every week, dedicated volunteers read to thousands of children in Title 1 public school classrooms across the nation.
If you’re still not sure where to start, ask your professional peers. One of the things I’ve learned, and am continually reminded of in my professional journey as a voice actor, is that this industry is full of amazing professionals with big hearts. I’ve yet to meet a voice talent who doesn’t have at least one non-profit or philanthropic organization that they’ve lent their voice to, so ask around and you’ll surely find the perfect place that needs YOUR voice!
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Lisa Biggs is a full-time professional voice-over actor, creator of Voxy Ladies and co-creator of Camp Vox. She’s been lending her unique sound to national campaigns and global brands for more than a decade. For more of her work, visit lisabiggs.com.
The photo featured in the article was taken by Gavin Whitner. You can find his website here.