You probably already know that a character is simply a part you play other than yourself. This means that every script has the opportunity for you to play a character. I find that most announcer scripts are mislabeled and in fact DO NOT require the removed, disembodied, talking head sound that is typically associated with the word announcer. Almost all voiceover scripts provide you with an opportunity to play a character with a vested interest in the material. But finding your character performance is another matter.
Most aspiring voiceover talent have no idea what the full extent of their character potential really is. In order to find out, the first thing you must do is abandon the notion that all characters are funny, quirky or outrageous sounding. The average character requires no accent, or cartoon antics - those performances are reserved for cartoons, video games and the occasional commercial. Most characters require only your natural speaking voice along with the adoption of a specific attitude, emotion or attribute that will define the character.
What do I mean by this? None of us are one dimensional – we are all different things to different people and we play different roles in our day to day lives. I am: a wife, daughter, friend, boss, sister, church member, teacher, etc. This list goes on and on, as it likely does for you. We are not one thing. Each role that you play in your life and each relationship you have also represents a different character that you can play.
For instance; during the week I’m a business owner and you can find me in my office playing the role of an executive decision maker. I dress and look that part Monday through Friday. On weekends you might find me outside in my garden; weeding, mulching, mowing and planting. I will look and dress for that part as well, complete with garden gloves, tools, “work clothes”, and a baseball cap I reserved for yard work.
My closet; much like yours, is filled with clothes and accessories that represent the characters I play every day and those that I play only occasionally. Wanna play dress-up? Ok there’s corporate professional Gabby, blue collar Gabby, vampy nightclub Gabby, bridesmaid Gabby, Goth Gabby, and somewhere from a Halloween gone by – Renaissance Wench Gabby. My shoes & jewelry also represent a wide range of characters that I have played. You see we are all BARBIE. Same doll, but a change of clothes completely transforms us. So why aren’t more VO talent using these props-of-life on mic?
When you go somewhere, you likely dress the part. Doing so helps you feel appropriate, accepted and confident. It doesn’t matter if you are washing the car or going to a black tie event. For years I’ve encouraged my VO students to utilize simple props that they already possess to represent the role they are auditioning for.
Got a radio spot that requires a put-together stay-at-home-mom sound? Great go grad your apron, a whisk and your 'mom' purse. Does your agent need a sexy sounding voiceover audition to help sell a luxury car? Good, go get your fancy dress shoes and wear them in the booth. Put on a scarf, a hat, a toolbelt. . . whatever helps you play the role.
The greatest benefit of using simple props comes in the form of character association. I learned these techniques years ago through minimalist improv. An improvist will often have to play a role with one single item that represents their character. Having a wood spoon, a cigar, a wine glass, or a pack of bubble gum in your hand, can help you to better connect with the character you are playing. These props allow you to recall the character faster, stay in character longer and most important to develop a more established sound for the character.
Hair works well for this too. Have you ever thought to do a hair style change to match your script? Try it. Need to play a young girl – pigs tails. Sophisticated – make with a fast up do. Frantic nervous character? Tousle your hair and make it messy & crazy!
Physical involvement in your role is not just about how you stand or move – it’s about how you feel. What shirt makes you feel pretty/handsome? Which PJs are the comfiest? What article of clothing do you have that will make you feel eccentric or hip?
Since most of voiceover actors work from home, we have a great advantage – our closet is only moments away. You have a whole wardrobe to help you play your part within walking distance. And if you’re a voiceover talent who records INSIDE your clothes closet, then your suit jacket is within arm’s reach! What have you got to lose. . . it’s just you and your microphone, so sure, grab that sexy teddy from your last anniversary and go saunter around in your booth.
If you can feel more connected to the character you are playing you will experience a greater depth and breadth to your performance. You will make mental associations with the articles of clothing or household props that can assist you, and you will undoubtedly expand your acting abilities and the number of characters in your repertoire. Here’s a list of common items you probably own that can help you create such mic-moods.
Scarves, bandannas, shoes, hats & belts of all kinds.
A broom, duster, (basic cleaning supplies) a small pile of laundry, even a light weight vacuum.
Sporting gear – balls, bats, gloves, etc.
Kitchen items, aprons, BBQ tools.
Purses, wallets, briefcases, luggage
Event specific clothes: bathing suites, jerseys, cocktail dresses, coats & winter gear, Sunday best, etc.
Gym clothes, gym bag, sneakers, etc.
Gabrielle Nistico, Gabby Nistico, The Voiceover Vixen, The Business First VO Coach, #VoiceoverVixen #VoiceOnFire #BusinessFirstVOCoach Voiceover, Success, Entrepreneur, Marketing Strategies, Income, Home Studio, Recording, Microphone, Professional, Coaching, Voiceover Coaching, VO Coaching, Voiceover Coaches, Working Actors, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, North Carolina, VO Demo, Voiceover Demo, Demo Producer, Talent, acting techniques, voice acting, costumes, props, theatrical, roles, closet, clothing, costume, multidimensional