Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Case For Characters

I've had so many adventures since beginning my new full-time career as a voice actor. I've been very blessed to have met some amazing talent recently and develop life-long friendships with other voice actors. It's been a whirlwind since I left my job as a morning show co-host on the radio in September. I've learned to set up a home studio, to audition for jobs on-line, and to narrow down the areas where I believe I am truly gifted.

In fact, discovering my 'area of expertise' has been the most eye-opening challenge I've faced. I've come to realize I am not gifted in the areas of 'sexy, sultry, professional, corporate, warm, motherly, etc, etc'. I cannot sound even a day over the age of 25 no matter how hard I try or how old I get! Of course, these are the exact words I most often see used by companies seeking voice talent. Which leaves me in a bit of a pickle.

If I owned a corporation and needed a voice message recorded, I would find a man or woman with a warm and professional voice to represent me. Therefore, I can certainly respect and understand the need for this type of voice actor.

However, contrary to what many have tried to tell me recently, I do believe there is also room in this industry for the type of tiny voice that makes you smile. The 'animated-storytelling-young-hip-friendly-natural-everyday' voice actor that specializes in character voices (but has been told the work will be almost impossible to find). Why do so many people believe that if you aren't blessed with the voice of Demi Moore, you might not make it in voice acting?

The majority of feature animated film rolls go to Hollywood actors. It's how they entice an audience. I understand that. This shouldn't mean all character voice actors should find a new line of work! Casting for major television cartoons is usually done in LA or NY, but shouldn't there be cartoon work for a person out in say...North Carolina??

So, I've decided to make it my mission to make a case for characters!

Some of the most memorable commercials on television revolve around characters...'Where's The Beef?'...'Wazzz Uuup?'...'Bud, Why, Zer!' (as said by a very talented trio of frogs) Yet, so often I see scripts for commercials that don't challenge voice actors...if it can be imagined, it can be voiced!

If it works on TV, why can't it work on the radio...voice mail...podcasts...the list can go on and on! Sometimes I miss the days of the early Radio Disney (where I once worked on the air and as a writer). We believed deeply in the philosophy of 'old radio'. Sound effects and voice actors once created entire soap operas, series...and inspired imaginations! We used that one thought to create features, shows and commercials that made our listeners think and laugh! I did an entire radio show on board a spaceship called The Intergalactic Boombox that orbited the Earth- and no one doubted that we were actually there! One of my favorite pastimes is to record short audio clips in which each of my characters have a conversation with one another. It's silly- and I love every second of it!

I do wish that more scripts were posted that allowed actors to create and develop a character that would stand out and get noticed. If only more companies realized that voice actors can do more than 'pronounce words with a non-regional dialect', they can act...they can sell!!

Character voice actors are a necessity as much today as they were 50 years ago. Yet, I see so little being done to seek them out- to allow them to create. Character voices don't just consist of 'mom, teen, child'. The sky really is the limit.

I'm still waiting for that one job post that says something like: 'seeking voice actor that can create a character that sounds 13 years old, short, slightly overweight, with long hair that gets caught in her mouth at times, she is usually sweet but with a quick temper, wide eyes, mild lisp, born in North Dakota but spent time in Georgia, speaks loudly but gets embarrassed easily...oh, and she has braces'.

Now THAT would be fun!!!!

If it can be can be voiced.


Bob Souer said...


It's wonderful to see you blogging. And I love what you have to say about character voices. In fact, I've been thinking about this whole matter of characters for a while now and will link to your post when I get around to writing out my thoughts on the subject.

Be well,
Bob Souer

Kara Edwards said...

Thank Bob! I really look forward to hearing (and reading) what my voice actor friends have to say! It's an exciting line of work, and each person has their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, it's as much fun learning your downfalls as it is learning your gifts!

Happy New Year!