Getting Older in Voice Over

Staying Up On The Up

The glory of this business is, there’s always an audience for what you’re talking about and that audience needs someone who is just like them. In other words, it’s pretty hard to listen to a young “whipper snapper” touting a senior living facility or an older gentleman talking about Laser Blasters. But just because we get older, we don’t die off. We just carve a niche that works for us.

My Godfather worked well into his 70’s. Throughout his years, he became the voice of reason, the sage in Winnie The Pooh, and always the wise older man who had a story to tell. Beyond his gift of talent, he knew that it was important to be in the know.

So, what does ‘Being in the know’ entail? What does it mean for you?

I want to reiterate that products need authenticity. Lately, I’ve been privy to a move back towards this. It seemingly gets derailed when people latch onto a “voice” that they like and then the specs lean toward a type that they like, rather than what might be more appropriate for the product. Gone are the days of the whiskey, vocal fry, partied-all-night sound. And I can’t say that I’ll miss those. Then there’s the hottest celebrity voice. Now, it’s Maya Rudolph. As much as I like her, um why her? She’s just simple, real, nothing much too her. An easy explanation of someone they want you to personify in attitude (simple, real, nothing much to her). So, it’s easiest just to give you an example of the person. It’s up to you to decipher what she offers.

In my experience casting older VO talent, I find that there are only a handful that stay on top of what is trending. Just a few months ago, my team sent a casting out to re-do a voice for a film. We needed men in their 60’s to 70’s. To begin, we sent about 18 invitations out to very well-established and long-time veterans. What we got back was dumbfounding. First, out of the 18, 7 got back to us that first day. No problem, we gave them a day and a half to turn it in. The next day, we received 3. We were paying over 1K for this. But it’s not about the highly lame turn-around, it was the quality of auditions that we were getting back. Cellphone auditions with traffic whizzing by, mov’s instead of mp3’s, bad, bad, bad, quality studios. These people were not up to par on what the protocol is, and believe me, notice was taken. We could not submit these auditions. Our direction was very specific and we told them how to label and send. Nope, that still didn’t work 100%. It shook us. Now, we had to cast our net wider, get stricter in our directions, throw in a little threat about not submitting if it wasn’t followed.

True that these people have had a great run and the run is not over, but it is different. It is up to talent to stay true to the demands of the business. If you want to be competitive, your studio has to be up to par, your demos have to be standard protocol, you have to ride the wave of the current and popular style. You need to seek help from someone who knows what is expected. Now, why would a 62 year old who has had years of experience go to a 40 year old coach who doesn’t have as many jobs under their belt? It isn’t about the jobs. It’s about the golden nuggets you can get from someone who knows exactly what it takes to book a job…today, not yesterday, today. I don’t think too many older engineers are questioning Elon Musk’s knowledge because he hasn’t been on the planet as long.

So, time for a real review:

When was the last time you updated your demo?

When was the last time you had a professional listen to it?

What is the sound that is being served up now?

Who is hot right now?

How is my marketing? (There’s a whole new group of people hiring).

Am I resting on my laurels?

How do I stay ahead of the 8 ball?

How do I need to shift/pivot to be competitive?

When gave me the opportunity to share this with you, I jumped. I love my long-time peeps that I saw pre-pandemic in my studio and I loved receiving mp3’s. I love helping to keep people moving through this business but talent has to have accountability no matter how many jobs or how much money they have made. Keep up with your craft. Stay enrolled in the conversation. Be marketable and current in everyway you can.


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