I’ve been in the voiceover industry for a good length of time and in that time, I think I have seen a maximum of 3 Disney voiceover scripts to date one of which I did not even fit the brief. It’s certainly one of the most popular sectors of the industry and typically a company most voice actors aspire to work with. I was fortunate enough to connect with Jennifer Trujillo who is one of the casting directors for Disney, at an in-person voiceover event called Above and BeVOND in 2019.
What Does a Disney Voiceover Artist Talk About?
What do you say when you meet a big client? Perhaps you stand awkwardly in the corner of the room or lurking in a conversation had by others whilst you try to find the courage to say hello. Or you could just say hello, that works really well I promise! Performers are surprisingly shy when it comes to breaking the ice because generally, they put people on pedestals.
The key is to be yourself, if someone doesn’t like you for who you are then it’s their loss, not yours. I conclude the fear of rejection isn’t just cemented in the pain of someone not liking you but also in the fear of potentially being blacklisted. Let me tell you this, it’s highly unlike someone won’t like you for being yourself however they may find you disingenuous for trying to be something you’re not. Moreover, if by chance you did not see eye to eye, you’re not going to be blacklisted, it’s just not how it works.
The natural organic approach is the best thing to do in voiceover and any other industry for that matter. My top tip is to do some research, maybe you’ll find some commonalities which you can talk about following your introduction. Example ‘’Hey, I am Alan, Great to meet you, I was so amused when I saw your response to the recent episode of Picard on prime, the last episode was great right?’’.
The In for the Voice Actor
If you are at an event like I was, why not try volunteering? Why do we go to events simply just to extract and not impart? It’s a different experience volunteering because you end up in scenarios and conversations that otherwise might not have presented themselves as attendees. In this instance, I volunteered and did pretty much everything I was asked, from the registration desk to untangling the LED lights. Whilst there I suggested we interview Jennifer for the magazine, and they took me up on the offer and so that is what I did.
From there, a professional relationship was built, and conversation becomes a little easier to manage. The thing is, whatever avenue you take be it professional, personal, or indifferent the key is to connect and then begin growing a relationship. Some potential clients become friends, some don’t, some become clients, and some don’t the point is we need to do our best to network and connect with people.
Being a Voice Talent That Looks at Things Differently
When interviewing Jennifer, I asked myself the question ‘’what do we talk about” fundamentally, I took myself out of the situation I was in and decided to look at what would bring value to the reader. The ten-million-dollar question on everyone’s mind is how do we end up in the casting room, right? Well, that’s exactly what I asked. Think about the magnitude of our business for a moment, one job can see a thousand auditions across a few platforms.
Imagine if that was open to every agent and the pay-to-play site you could be seeing 100,000 + in the way of auditions, and if that’s global you could be talking a million people going for one job! Casting directors will have confidence in the agents and platforms they use from years of reliability and relationship. This is a huge filtering system, the agent has trust in the talent, the casting director has trust in the agent and finally the director who ultimately chooses who books the job has trust in the casting director.
Disney Voiceover Actors Using Comedy to Their Advantage
I asked Jennifer for her top tip, and she said comedy is so vital for her shows. Got experience in stand-up? Well, the good news is, it’s transferable into voiceover! What about if you don’t have experience in stand-up? Well, improv is almost the next best thing, so get good at improv! The ability to instinctually think fast and on your feet will get you to a good place with improv. My top tip is to have a collection of cards up your sleeve for improv so for example in a heated argument change the tone in a comedic way by proposing. Humour and comedy are subjective, sure, but there is a consensus too. You can certainly read more from the pros about what’s funny and why but for now take your character, make it genuine and more importantly make it big.
Why is this important? Well, prominent characters often invite comedy, and as a species, we find surreal, slapstick, and animated behaviours humorous. Don’t be fooled when I say genuine and big, you can have both! Genuinely doesn’t mean naturalistic it means real. If you create an environment where a crazy character exists, and you deliver that with no compromise you have succeeded. You can’t half give yourself a character especially if you want to pull off animation, comedy or nearly just about any other genre which requires a larger persona from the character and voice actor. This is not used as commonly on screen as it is a theatrical behaviour, but it is one of the number one things to lean into as an actor and voiceover artist when looking to create comedic, big, and genuine animated characters.