What A Director/Producer Looks For In A Voice-Over Actor – by Marc Cashman

Every director or producer has a core stable of actors who “get it.”  These are highly talented people who can hit the ball out of the park on the first pitch, and make reading very challenging copy sound easy.  It’s their job to make the producer look good to the client—that’s why they were brought into the studio in the first place.  Directors look for key indicators in an actor that will tell them whether that actor can perform flawlessly in a session. The actor who has all of these abilities will be working a lot. The traits that make for an in-demand V-O actor are:


  • Great V-O actors are consistent from take to take; in timing, pacing, inflection, breath control, volume, projection, accent and acting.  They’re able to match their voice for pick-ups and punch-ins.  They have consistent energy, not only from take to take, but from the beginning through the end of the spot.


  • Taking direction. Top-notch voice actors listen carefully to what the director and/or the client are saying.  They pay attention to the director and/or engineer’s cues for pick-ups and punch-ins. They scrutinize punctuation, changing it, if necessary. They avoid stepping on another actor’s lines, unless directed to do so.


  • Professional behavior. From the moment a professional voice actor enters the studio door to the moment they exit, they comport themselves as professionals.  They shower, shave and dress appropriately, with no noisy clothing or jewelry, no heavy perfume or after-shave lotion.  They introduce themselves and try to remember names.  They always keep an up, positive attitude.  They keep their questions and/or suggestions pertinent.


  • Professional voice actors show up early, are warmed up, relaxed and focused. They’ve taken the time to analyze the script, rehearse, time and mark the copy.  They’re physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to give everyone involved a stellar performance in a sometimes stressful and compressed amount of time.


  • Standout voice talent put their unique spin on copy.  They’re believable, they become the character, and they sound like they’re talking to the listener, not reading.  They’re sincere and conversational (when called for).  They exhibit versatility and range and they’re excellent at adlibbing.  In other words, they not only bring the copy to life, but they infuse it with energy and appropriate interpretation.