There aren’t a lot of resources available online for the budding woman voice actor. So I figured I’d do some digging around the internet and put together a list of resources all in one spot.
All of these resources, books, quotes and videos are for women, by women. Let’s go!
1. Focus on gigs best suited to women
Sometimes it can appear like the voice acting industry is run-over by men. But that’s becoming less and less the case.
Here’s a (short) list of voice acting opportunities specifically for women.
- Voice commercials where women are key decision makers. Think products for children, beauty products, interior design and gardening. (But this extends to a lot of other markets that might seem male-oriented but where women are more and more the final decision-makers.)
- Voice female characters in animation, like Anna (of Frozen) or Ariel (of The Little Mermaid.)
- Voice female characters in video games. Laura Bailey got her start in Dragon Ball Z and has since done a lot of work for well-known video games. In this interview, she talks about how she got her start in voice acting and how the industry has changed since she started.
- Voice young boys in animations, like Bart Simpson.
- Voice audiobooks by female authors or targeted at women.
And remember, you’re not limited to this list. Anything a man can do, you can probably do better. People (men and women, old and young), on average, prefer the sound of a women’s voice.
2. Go for gigs better suited to women
Take advantage of being a woman. Men can’t do what you can do. Use that for quick wins.
- Promote yourself to companies that create products primarily for women and children. This includes products for kids, beauty products, interior design products, gardening, home remodeling and more. Find products where women are the decision makers and pitch yourself to those companies. Apply for those gigs. You’ll be ahead of any guys going for the same gigs.
- Promote yourself to companies that make what you already love. Voice coach, Rosemary Chase, says: “It’s easy to sell what you believe in. Do I love Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon? Like nobody’s business. I believe I like it enough to beat out any male voice talent in an audition for that product.” If there’s something in your daily life that you just can’t live without, pitch yourself to the company that makes that thing. Own the market.
- Use online marketplaces to find work geared specifically towards women. Sites like Voices.com let you search for gigs based on gender and age. Use that to your advantage to focus only on the work that you’re most likely to get.
3. Own your power (and get support)
Lora Cain is professional voice actress. She wrote a piece for Voices.com with 10 tips to help women be heard. Here I’ve included the tips that seem most unique to women voice actors.
1. You deserve to be heard. Own it. Remove timidity from your life (and your voice). You have something valuable to contribute. Own it. Speak it.
You have a right to your thoughts and opinions – speak them.
— Lora Cain
5. Find your own inner grizzly. As a woman, you might not even know how deep your voice really goes. Practise using the deepest parts of your voice and you might discover some interesting (and even scary) tones to use in demos (and on your family when they’ve stopped listening.)
Practice growling. Really.
— Lora Cain
10. Get a voice buddy. Getting support (from another woman) can be important in the early stages. Online communities are packed with (white, male, privileged) trolls, spewing rubbish and seeding fear. Don’t let them get to you. Get a (female) voice buddy and block out the trolls. Or, better yet, join a women-only voice acting group on social media.
Connect with another woman who’s working on her voice and practice together. Ask each other to point out when you’re falling back into your old sound and habits so you can make the changes right then.
— Lora Cain
4. Prepare for every audition and gig (with this ritual)
Lili Wexu is a professional voice actress and this is how she prepares for every recording.
1. Don’t speak. According to Lili, your larynx is positioned differently when you’re lying down. And it can take an hour and a half for it to move back to its normal position in your throat. So, first thing in the morning, don’t speak.
2. Inhale steam. This can lubricate your vocal chords which will help you deliver a smoother performance.
3. Practise tongue twisters. This is like practising scales before playing piano. You’re warming up your “instrument”.
4. Mumble it. This is just to understand the script before having a go at your performance.
5. Keep developing your voice
1. You have to train. Acting classes are critical. The “voice” part of the work is just a small part of it. You need to have acting chops.
2. Get a coach. You need a voice acting coach to help you practise reading things like commercials and narration.
3. Persevere. This is one of the most important things to succeeding in voice acting.
4. Patience. “Success comes when preparation meets opportunity.” We don’t get to decide when that happens. So you have to be prepared and you have to be patient.
The idea is that you continue the work until you’re so good that people can’t help but hire you.
6. Read books by female voice actors
It can be motivating to learn how to voice act from other women who have already succeeded. And the easiest way to tap into those successful minds is by reading their books.
Here’s a short list of voice acting books by female voice actors. Some of these are considered the “go to” books for anyone getting started in voice acting.
- Secrets of Voice-Over Success: Top Voice-Over Actors Reveal How They Did It Paperback by Joan Baker
Includes advice of two other top actors and a CD with demos that Joan used to get voice work.
- How to Start a Voiceover Career: (When you have no time or money) by Kellian
Kellian shows you step-by-step how she got started and gives you just the facts of exactly what works. Includes gear recommendations, where to find jobs, phone and email scripts to get better jobs, how to avoid scams and more.
- How to Become a Voice Over Artist: Make a Living from Home with Your Voice! by Natalie Roers
With insider information how to start and grow a business in voice acting. Covers everything she did, including equipment used, how she broke into the biz and becoming a full-time home-studio voice over pro.
- Freeing the Natural Voice: Imagery and Art in the Practice of Voice and Language by Kristin Linklater
This one’s all about developing your money maker — your voice. Includes exercises that she’s used over the last 3 decades to help her students develop their voices.
- There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is (Fourth Edition): A Complete Insider’s Guide to Earning Income and Building a Career in Voice-Overs by Elaine A. Clark
This is the fourth edition of “There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is” and is considered by Harlan Hogan to be “The bible of our industry.”
- Voice-Over 101: How to Succeed as a Voice Actor by Debi Derryberry
A comprehensive book on voice-over that includes access to a video library with Debi’s tricks of the trade.
- Audiobook Recording: A Beginner’s Guide to Producing Audiobooks using Audacity by Krystal Wascher
If you’re going to record audiobooks, this is a great start. Audacity is free audio-editing software used by many a voice actor. This book covers everything about getting into audiobook narration, including the details of how to use Audacity to deliver your final product.
7. Follow successful voice actresses online
Following successful women in voice acting can be a huge motivation. If they can do it, and they’ll show you how they did it, then you can do it to.
Here are some great resources.
- Marcia Bennett Talks About Getting Started and More
Marcia did her first voice acting at the age of 9 when she recorded “Archie” comics onto casette so her younger brother (who couldn’t read) could enjoy them. She went on to become a professional voice actress.
- How did you get that job: video game voice actress Laura Bailey
Laura got her start on Dragon Ball Z and has since done a lot of popular video games including Persona 4, Skyrim, World of Warcraft and Halo 5.
- Interview With Nadine Shenton (Award Winning VO Artist)
Nadine Shenton is an award-winning voiceover artist based in the UK. Here she talks about how her previous experience as a Royal Shakespeare Company actress continues to help her in her VO career.
- Jennifer Hale Talks About Voicing FemShep In “Mass Effect 3”
Jennifer is known for her performances in The Powerpuff Girls, Totally Spies, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Metal Gear Solid. In this interview, she talks about her work in Mass Effect 3.
- The Queen of Voice Over Work — Mary Wells
Mary talks about how she became one of the busiest British voice actresses and her predictions for the voice over industry.
Hopefully this article fills in the gap I found of little to no VO resources for women. After reading this, I hope you’ll feel like you have what you need to get going as a kick-ass voice actress.