Wanna be big? Then start small

Ok. So you wanna be the next Sponge Bob or Porky Pig or Joker or even just a smaller character in an animated series. It’s a good goal. Goals are good. But if you are just starting out as a beginning voice actor, then you’d better stop packing your suitcase for your big move to Hollywood. There are so many smaller things you need to try before making it big as a voice over artist.

I wish I could say that the advice in this post is from my own personal experience. Alas, I’m not a big voice actor living the voice acting dream in LA. But the advice comes from someone who IS a big deal in the voice over world: Rob Paulson. (If you don’t know who he is, then check out this related post: This Guy’s Got Game!)

Pretty much everyweek during his podcast, Rob gives voice over beginners the same advice: perform! In any way possible get out there and perform something, anything. It doesn’t have to be a paying gig. Just do something creative that in some way involves acting.

For example:

  • Join a small theater company and get some stage acting experience.
  • Is there a Toastmasters in your area? Join it. Do it.
  • Any improv groups or classes? Sign up!
  • If you think you’re funny, do the open mic night at your local comedy club.
  • Can you sing even a little? Then get out there in front of an audience and sing!
  • Do you play a musical instrument? Then get out there and do that!

But what if there aren’t any of those places in your area or you can’t perform music to save your life? Then how about these ideas:

  • Volunteer to read books at LibriVox.
  • Perform children’s books at your local library during story time.
  • Make a podcast with friends where you perform skits.

The point is, you can’t put the cart before the horse. Before making a big move into the high-competition field of professional voice acting in the major cities, you gotta start small and get your “performance chops” up to a higher level.

Many of the big voice over artists in animation did many of the things listed above — first. Some even started as musicians and comedians before becoming voice actors.

And remember: voice acting IS acting! You gotta get acting experience somewhere. That’s why small community acting groups are a great place to start.

Also, even if you cringe at the thought of voicing commercials, web videos, or ads for your local radio station, all of those will give you valuable experience on the road to making it big.