Money Talks

Q: I am an African American woman who has been working the typical 9-to-5 job and I am looking to choose a different career path. My current job is in customer service and is geared to communicating with people all over the United States. I’ve been told — by both strangers and co-workers — that I should put my voice talent to good use. I want to go into the voice-over industry, but I don’t know the best path to take. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. Can you help?
–T. Todd, Lawrence, Kansas

A: To begin, you’ll need two things: training and a demo tape or CD — in that order. Having a great voice doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready for voice-over work. You’ll need to learn the basic skills of using your voice. If you make a demo before getting the proper training, it will likely hurt, not help, your chances of getting work. Find classes, which will cost between $100 and $500, by talking to agents, casting directors, producers, and actors.

For more advice on how to get voice-over work, I recommend that you visit The Actor’s Checklist ( sources/voice.html) on the Internet. Also, read The Art of Voice Acting: The Craft and Business of Performing Voice-Over by James R. Alburger (Focal Press; $24.99) and There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is: An Insider’s Guide to a Career in Voice-Overs by Elaine A. Clark (Watson-Guptill Publications; $18.95). These books come highly recommended by those who have successfully entered the voice-over industry.