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Samuel L. Jackson is known for his large body of work in some of the most successful films of the last few decades. In addition to some of the iconic live action movies he’s appeared in, Sam has performed in numerous voiceover roles over the course of his career.
What Is Voice Acting?
Voice acting is any sort of recorded performance in which only an actor’s voice is used in the final product. Voice acting can be found in animated films, video games, audiobooks, radio advertisements, or during voiceover portions of live action movies. A voice acting career can be a highly lucrative and artistically rewarding job.
Samuel L. Jackson’s 7 Voice Acting Tips
Samuel L. Jackson has taken his experience as a professional voice actor and compiled a list of voice acting tips for aspiring voiceover actors looking to break into the industry:
- Commit to doing vocal warm ups. An important part of preparing for a voiceover job or voiceover audition is warming up your voice through voice exercises. As Sam explains, most actors are familiar with vocal warm ups from theatrical work. Vocal warm ups and breathing exercises are a useful tool to prepare for any sort of performance, but they are especially useful when preparing to do voiceover work. Your own voice is the only performance tool available to you in your voiceover career. Warming up your voice and practicing enunciation can help you ease into a “recording voice” that has the appropriate breath support and clarity for audio recording.
- Do research when creating characters. Part of creating distinctive characters with specific vocal patterns is doing all the normal research and exploration you would do for a live action film or theatrical production. Once you have a good sense of who your character is, you can practice speaking your lines and feeling out how you might approach the dialogue. It’s important to work with the text extensively before it comes time to record. Practice is a huge part of creating distinctive, memorable characters. For Sam, recording audiobooks have given him practice at creating multiple characters and alternating between them.
- Find vocal tics. One way to differentiate characters as a voice artist is to find specific vocal tics. Having a good voice and proper enunciation is a great start towards becoming a voiceover artist, but professional voice actors must also find ways to incorporate the nuanced ways that humans communicate. Sometimes this involves specific vocal tics or impediments.
- Play with energy. A lot of voiceover jobs involve recording material for video games or animated films geared towards a younger audience. Sam says that learning to vary and channel your energy into your work can help produce engaging voice performances for younger audiences.
- Overcome your speech impediments. Sam is known by many for his booming and commanding voice, but this wasn’t always the case. From a young age, Sam suffered from a stutter, but he overcame his speech impediment through practice. There are many professional voiceover actors who have minor speech irregularities that they have overcome. The good news is that through practice, voice and breathing exercises, and professional speech therapy, most speech impediments are treatable and should not prevent you from becoming a successful professional voiceover artist.
- Find a universal voice. Sometimes as a voiceover actor you will be asked to perform as a real life, recognizable character. While learning the intonations and speech patterns of your characters can be useful, Sam explains that he favors an approach that is deeper than just superficial mimicry. Rather than doing an imitation of a real-life character, he tries to forge a deeper connection with their words and find a voice that feels appropriate and accessible to audiences.
- Practice. It’s important to practice even when you aren’t in a professional recording studio. Many professional voiceover actors have home studios for recording voiceover acting auditions and honing their voiceover recording skills. It’s easy to set up a home studio, and the only equipment required is a microphone, headphones, and a computer with recording software. Once you have a full setup, practice reading copy and listening back to your recordings. This will help you in your voiceover training as you develop a professional-sounding voice that will appeal to casting directors and audiences. If you’re using your home studio to self tape auditions instead of auditioning at a professional studio, make sure that your equipment is producing professional-sounding audio and that there isn’t any noticeable background noise.
Want to Learn More About Acting?
Whether you’re treading the boards or prepping for your next big role in a film or television series, making it in show business requires plenty of practice and a healthy dose of patience. No actor knows this better than the legendary Samuel L. Jackson, who has acted in over 100 films to date, from Pulp Fiction to The Avengers. In Samuel L. Jackson’s MasterClass on acting, the Oscar-nominee shares how he creates memorable characters, powerful performances, and a long-lasting career.
Want to become a better actor? The MasterClass Annual Membership provides exclusive video lessons from master actors, including Samuel L. Jackson, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, and more.