Who are you?
And by that I mean, for the people who go to your website, listen to your demos, call you in to audition, sign you into their talent rosters, pitch you to directors, or hire you to be the voice of their product/cartoon/mascot/etc. – why are they calling you?
Because you’re a good voice actor? There are a lot of great voice actors.
Because you’re nice? Nice don’t pay the bills unfortunately, so it’s probably not that either.
Because you have a smoky voice? Well, the boardroom of ad executives putting the word ‘textured’ in a casting call isn’t unheard of, but it’s rarely the reason you got the job.
Trying to get parts, trying to snag an agent, trying to market yourself to other clients, trying to use social media to convince anyone listening that you’re fun, talented, and nice -it can be maddening trying to be everything to everyone. Especially because it doesn’t work.
The reason it doesn’t work is because you’re not communicating what you bring to the table clearly. Rather than establishing yourself as the perfect fit to an agent, casting director, or corporate entity’s larger puzzle, you’re hiding the things that make you unique in an effort to be…inoffensive? When you don’t tell people how to use you, can you blame them for not knowing how?
Now the word ‘unique’ gets misused to mean ‘special.’ Unique and special aren’t the same thing. Again, jigsaw puzzle pieces are unique, but one only becomes special when it’s the missing piece.
That doesn’t mean you sit around and wait for the world to need you to be the one thing you are. You’re a versatile voice actor! You don’t have to be one thing all the time. But you should know where you fit and where you could fit if you stretched. Once you know that you’re a sardonic promo guy, a cartoony 10-year-old, the weathered but friendly commercial guy, a combat soldier, a really good explainer, or just built for audiobooks, you can start letting the world know. But keep the bigger picture in mind and ask yourself why this person needs to hire you and you specifically.
Let me say that again. Why people hire you. That’s what your brand is. Not to be confused with your ‘signature sound’, the font on your website, the logo on your business cards, your instagram handle, or your profile picture. You can start making those design decisions to communicate your brand once you’ve answered the question, which I’ll repeat again just so it really sinks in: Why are people hiring you?
The answer to this question becomes an intention that you can communicate in all of your marketing materials, including your demos and more critically, your auditions. Not having an answer may be a reason you’re not booking. If you’ve ever felt like you’re grasping at straws or throwing darts in the dark when you’re auditioning, that confusion is what gets transmitted to your listener. It’s a simple fix. All you have to do is come up with an answer. It might not be right on the first bounce, but you’d be amazed how much auditions can change with a fully-baked intention behind them.
Extrapolating from there, the confidence that comes from acting with intention pays off wherever you decide to use it. The first question I asked you is the same question asked at the beginning of every voice-over audition: who are you? The answer is:whoever you decide to be;but you have to decide so the world can know.