Welcome to part two of “When To Talk and When To Listen” if you haven’t had a chance to read part one, you can find that here.
As a voice actor, talking is obviously part of the job description. Some actors struggle with speaking up because they are afraid to ruffle feathers or upset the client, but remember: when you are in the booth for a gig, you’ve already booked the job and everything from that point is about making the project the best that you can. Sometimes, that requires additional communication, so let’s highlight some situations in which you may need to remember to talk or even speak up.
When You Want To Make Sure The Client Is Happy
As actors, we know we tend to seek approval so I want to clarify here that, “making sure the client is happy” is not about fishing for compliments, it’s about making sure they have what they need. This might include: double-checking your pronunciation of a product name, or that you’ve given them the correct number of takes, variations, and flavors they’ll need to complete their project. Especially after receiving a direction that might be confusing or up for interpretation, there’s no harm in simply asking, “Is that what you were looking for” or “so to clarify, you want XYZ?”
When You Are Hurting
Hopefully, this one won’t apply, but in case it does,I wanted to cover this situation. I tend to get hired to voice gruff, high energy, and gravely characters and sometimes those voices can take their toll on the vocal instrument. Before I start using a character voice that might cause faster than usual fatigue, I communicate “I’ve got about 2-3 takes in me for this voice” and most directors appreciate the heads up. I think everyone would prefer the heads up before the voice or performance starts slipping and you haven’t said it’s hurting. I had a very actor-oriented video game director once tell me that since she couldn’t know if it was painful or not, it had to be my job to advocate for my health, and I haven’t stopped speaking up since.
When Your Time Is Worth More
There’s nothing worse than feeling taken advantage of, and when you are just getting started in voice-over it might be hard to know how much your skills and time are worth. But what happens when you establish a rate, and the project takes longer or the client is requiring more pick-ups than initially agreed upon? It’s time to speak up and let them know. It’s one thing if you communicate and decide to continue free-of-charge due to financial constraints of the client, but you should always communicate FIRST that what you are doing is a one-time consideration and not a pattern.
When You’re Feeling Grateful
This is one moment I think some voice actors can forget (especially yours truly) : gratitude. Saying thank you, not just to the director and casting teams, but your engineers, production staff, and even your agent. Getting from A (audition) to B (booking) isn’t a one-person phenomenon, there are a lot of variables and most of them are out of our control. But when we DO book, we can enjoy it to the fullest and let everyone know how much we appreciate getting to work with them.
Here’s hoping some of this advice will help empower and encourage you to listen and speak up on your VO journey. I’m also hoping you’ll find some new opportunities or moments to consider that I didn’t cover here, I look forward to hearing about them and feel free to share them in the comments below or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org