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Audition Persistence: Be Prepared
& Understand The Producer's Puzzle
By Lisa Rice
Voice Actor
Persistence. We first learn about it before we even know there’s a word for it.
  • Remember skinning your knees as you struggled to find perfect balance on your bike?
  • You may not have realized you were persevering when as a pre-teen you begged your parents for the most popular pair of shoes.
  • But more than likely in high school, you knew exactly what it meant as you worked your way through Senioritis into final exams and eventually received your diploma.
Persistence finds its way into so many areas of our life as an adult. Marriage, paying our mortgage, raising children and yes, our job.
This article is the first of two in a series on being persistent as a voice-over talent, highlighting areas where we might find ourselves wanting to throw in the towel.
Here, Part 1 focuses on persistence in auditions. Part 2 will share advice on persistence in promoting our services.
As a former television producer and talent seeker myself, I’ve been on both sides of the microphone. However, even I have to remind myself of the importance of auditioning.
These opportunities usually come through online voice-over sites, from a current customer wanting to give their client some narrowed down choices, or our agents.
Before I go any further, it’s assumed that your recording studio is up to par and that you know what’s expected regarding the submission of custom demos. In other words, you are:
  • auditioning for jobs that fit your age and voice style,
  • slating or not slating (depending on what’s been requested), and
  • naming the file as directed.
Auditions flood our inbox from all of the aforementioned sources, and we devote various chunks of our day and sometimes nights churning them out.
This is where persistence comes in.
First of all, directing ourselves isn’t easy, but it’s a must in today’s voice-over world. And of course, getting as much training as possible and gaining experience will make this more comfortable.
But it doesn’t necessarily make auditioning a joy ride either. It’s easy to get discouraged submitting audition after audition, day in and day out, and not book a job.
You’ve no doubt submitted your best. You've: 
  • warmed up your voice,
  • studied and marked your script,
  • tried to recall all you’ve read and learned from your coaches and past experiences, and
  • recorded and edited your best take.
In fact, the audition you’ve uploaded might be wonderful. Proper placement of the mic. A beautiful interpretation of the script.
Overall, a stellar performance.
But don’t forget, our audition is going up against many others. Sometimes hundreds of others.
And before we beat ourselves up for not getting chosen for the job, it’s important to remember that it very well might not have anything to do with how well we auditioned.
You see, a video or audio production is not unlike a puzzle that has various pieces that either fit or don’t fit.
The producer knows the project inside out, from the client to the script to the music. Our voice might not fit any better than a straight-edged puzzle piece would fit into an area meant for a rounded one.
We might be the exact age and gender, but our voice may not sound like what they have in their mind.
And we can’t do a thing about that!
I have to stop and share with you at this point a peculiar episode in my personal voice-over history.
I was hired to voice a non-broadcast commercial for an insurance company’s national convention. It was a spot designed to motivate their sales force by enticing them with an overseas vacation.
It was a tricked-up trip, so to speak.
Anyway, the recording was set up as a phone patch. I was on one end and the production team was on the other. As we started to move through the script, I was directed to keep my voice in a lower register.
Every once in a while, they’d stop me and ask if I could go lower and put more power behind my voice.
Well, after about 20 minutes into the session with multiple takes as directed, it began to dawn on me that perhaps they really wanted a male to voice their project.
I mean, I have pretty good range going from high to low, but I can’t fake a man’s voice to save my life.
Guess what?
I posed this question to them, and after a little chit-chat amongst themselves everyone in the room agreed that yes, indeed, a male had voiced a similar project for them last year, and even though they had specified a female talent this year, they couldn’t get the deep, booming voice out of their heads.
Well, needless to say, we ended our session with the production team scrambling to find a male voice-over talent, and I proceeded to record my other projects for the day.
See what I mean?
They had an entirely different voice in their heads and mine wasn’t it.
I realize this is an extreme twist on the point I’m trying to make, but just remember:
It’s the producer’s puzzle, so to speak, and your voice may fit and it very well may not.
Don’t give up! For every door that closes, another will open. For every disconnected dial tone, there’s a ring-tone with your name on it. Keep auditioning.
Lisa Rice landed her first job in voice-over at the age of 18 and has worked as a writer, television and radio producer and on-camera talent in addition to various sales positions. Her one-to-one broadcast radio and television interviews have extended from the White House and Capitol Hill to Nashville. She’s voiced commercials, narrations, e-learning projects, promos and telephone prompts for a wide range of customers including Levolor, Taco Bell, Bristol-Myers Squibb, PBS Kids!, Arm & Hammer and Hill-Rom.
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