How to Get Voice-Over Work in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles provides countless opportunities for actors seeking voice-over work. However, proper preparation is key to securing jobs in this competitive industry. To land steady voice-over work, you must hone your craft as an actor, record a professional demo and find a trustworthy agent who will help you get work.

Research commercial voice-over classes, and ask other actors for recommendations. If you find a class offered by a casting director, sign up. It benefits you to know as many successful actors and casting directors as possible. Take as many of these classes as you need in order to feel confident; improv classes are especially valuable. Hone your craft by attending workshops and seminars in your preferred style (e.g., voicing cartoon characters), or by joining a weekly voice workout group where actors read copy to improve their skills.

Gather 10 to 15 pieces of ad copy from magazines, television or radio to use in your voice-over demo. Choose copy that complements the quality of your voice, your personality and your identity. If you're not yet sure of your identity, choose appealing pieces that you’re confident you can perform well.

Visit the Voice-Over Resource Guide website (see Resources) to find a demo producer, or ask for referrals from instructors, fellow actors and casting directors. Listen to a broad spectrum of your prospective producer's work, and consider whether his style complements your talents and goals. Record a voice-over demo for promotion purposes once you find a demo producer you like. Create clips that vary in sound quality, just as they would if you'd compiled them from actual ads. (Record in different rooms, or with different microphones, to achieve this effect.)

Make your commercial demos approximately one minute long. Animation demos should last about 1.5 minutes, and audiobook demos should last around five minutes. Record a commercial demo even if commercial work isn't your primary goal; according to voice actor Bob Bergen, commercial voice-overs make up the bulk of the industry's jobs.

Create a website to advertise yourself as a voice-over actor, and upload clips of your voice-over demo. Most marketing for voice-over actors is done electronically, according to Bob Bergen. Create a resume -- if you don't already have one -- and include it as a downloadable PDF on your website.

Join the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild (see Resources). You must be in a union to get worthwhile voice-over jobs in Los Angeles, according to James R. Alburger's "The Art of Voice Acting." Unions ensure reasonable, timely fees for work, appropriate working conditions and health and retirement benefits for actors. Anyone can join AFTRA. To join SAG, you must have worked in a union job or belong to AFTRA.

Ask casting directors, instructors, demo producers or other actors to refer you to voice-over agents. Call each agent, and ask the receptionist what format the agent prefers for demos (e.g., CD or downloadable MP3). Submit your resume and demo to the agent exactly as instructed, and wait for a reply. Once you get an agent, you should be prepared to attend at least one audition per week.

Market yourself aggressively even after you get an agent. Before signing a contract with an agent, ask if he's open to sharing his contact list of commercial producers, so you can make marketing efforts on your own behalf. Send each producer an ecard with your name and website information, or mail a copy of your demo CD and a resume.

Arrive to voice-over auditions 30 minutes early. Bring a copy of your demo and your resume. Smile and act confident.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have any voice-over experience, seek volunteer work or jobs through ad agencies to build up your resume.
  • Attend plenty of classes and workshops before recording your demo. If you record your demo after taking only one or two classes, it probably won't be your best work.
  • Don't badger voice-over agents after you submit your demo and resume. An agent will call you if she is interested.
  • Leave your photo out of your marketing materials. Let your voice speak for itself.
  • Watch out for scams. Deal only with reputable producers and agents that you located through other actors in the business, or other credible referrals. Avoid voice coaches or demo producers whose claims seem too good to be true, or who offer a free demo recording with the class. Scam artists will often entice you with low fees and best-case scenarios, and then hit you with extra fees.

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