One of the most challenging, and in some cases confusing, aspects to the voice over beginner is the concept of “making the copy your own”. I had heard this expression many, many times from various sources (books, blogs, voice acting coaches, etc.) and it baffled me to no end for quite a long time. At first I thought it meant I had to create my own 100% original characters — something completely different than who I really am or completely different than my already “set-in-stone” personality. But that really isn’t the case…
Voice acting is all about creating believable characters. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find it a struggle to create a believable character out of absolutely nothing. I could try to imagine what it’s like to be a different person — say an uber-rich software tycoon or an ultra-suave ladies man. But since I am (much to my dismay) neither of them, it is impossible to know exactly how they feel. Or is it?
Let’s say you were asked to play the part of an ultra-suave ladies man. What you could do is recall in as much detail as possible a time when you had successfully asked a woman out on a date — or better still — a time you felt extremely romantic and passionate. Choose the most vivid and detailed memory that is stored in the grey matter of your mind. Make sure that you can still feel the honest emotions of that event. That’s important. Then, with that memory in mind and those honest and deep emotions flowing through you, you read the copy. If you’ve done it right, you should have continued to strongly feel the emotions all throughout the read. And when you listen back to it, you should be able to hear those emotions coming out in your performance.
This is what “making the copy your own” really means. It means that you use your own real experiences to add life and believability to your reads.
(NOTE: Be sure to check out the post called List of acting emotions for practice to learn more!)