The Price of Nice

The Price of Nice
By Susan Berkley

Whether you’re just starting out in voice over or your career is in gear, pay careful attention to what I’m about to say. One of the main reasons voice actors don’t book the job is because they are bland and boring.

Most of us have nice voices–some of us even have great voices. But that’s not what makes a career and gets you cast for the high paying, career making opportunities. Too many actors approach the microphone gingerly, as if someone were doing them a favor by allowing them to be there.

When you take the mic, command it. Make bold choices. You were born for this! You have a right to be there!

Acting coach Tom Todoroff says the person who gets hired is the one who gets the most juice out of the orange, who plays all the notes in the script instead of just one or two. But most voice talent have the tendency to always flatten things out. To make it mild. Safe. Nice.

In acting class I was doing a monologue by Jane Martin where I was playing a woman frustrated by boring men. My instinct was to dress sexy and play the scene like a vamp, as if I was in a bar talking to a date. But then I wimped out, dressed like a soccer Mom, and performed as if I were complaining to a girlfriend. The stronger choice? The girl in the bar of course.

And when the acting teacher encouraged me to take a risk and re-do the scene while playing to a handsome guy in the audience 20 years my junior as if I were trying to seduce him, the audience laughed hysterically. Someone said I reminded them of “Sex in the City” star Kim Catrell, which certainly made my day. Fun! It took courage, but the results were exhilarating.

When commenting on her unique look, Dolly Parton said she made a deliberate attempt to copy the town tramp, a bold and very specific choice. She never breaks character in public either. Now Dolly might not be your cup of tea, but she’s certainly unforgettable, loved by millions and a very, very successful woman.

You might be wondering what to do when the script is boring or written for a dry corporate presentation. Trust me, I feel your pain.

But don’t check out and slog through it. Bring your sprit, your joy to every job you do, give some thought to your persona and when you’re given a script with an opportunity to play, go for it!


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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit www.greatvoice.com

Copyright 2012, The Great Voice Company. All Rights Reserved. The Price of Nice.

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