In the past few years, the media landscape has grown, and the voice acting industry has become more competitive. Kyle Phillips, an ADR Director at the established audio post-production studio FUNimation (USA), shares key tips on how aspiring voice actors may grow their careers.
1. Draw Inspiration from Others Drawing Inspiration from Directors Drawing Inspiration from Engineers Drawing Inspiration from Actors 2. Staying Flexible in an Unpredictable Industry 3. Juggle Multiple Positions by Learning to Organise 4. Search for Opportunities to Grow your Career Are Demo Reels Necessary? 5. Develop Competitive Skills
1. Draw Inspiration from Others
To stay afloat in a competitive industry, aspiring voice actors must find new ways to stay competitive. Kyle encourages them to broaden their perspectives by drawing inspiration from their friends or accomplished professionals.
Drawing Inspiration From Directors
Kyle has starred in multiple roles throughout his career, such as Denki Kamanari from My Hero Academia and Sosuke Sugaya from Assassination Classroom. According to Kyle, these roles allowed him to meet other talented directors, who have expanded his perspective.
“[These opportunities] allowed me to get in front of many different directors, allowing me to see their individual styles. I like to think I’ve taken the best traits of these directors and incorporated them into my own style.” Kyle explains.
Drawing Inspiration From Engineers
Furthermore, Kyle explains how he draws inspiration from FUNimation’s talented crew of ADR engineers.
“Our ADR Engineers are the best in the industry. Whenever one of our engineers moves on to another company in the entertainment industry, we get reports back from them about how easy it is! On the flip side, we get a call from their new employer saying how insanely skilled our former engineer is! The ADR engineers at FUNimation really keep the ship afloat.” Kyle continues.
Drawing Inspiration From Actors
Kyle also explains how he is inspired by FUNimation’s “variety of actors, from all sorts of different backgrounds and skill levels”.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is developing that talent! Finding new people, eager to work and developing a voice for cool characters is truly rewarding. But, working with seasoned veterans is a blast too, since most of them I now consider friends having worked with them for so long!” Kyle describes.
2. Staying Flexible in an Unpredictable Industry
Given that the industry is becoming more competitive, Kyle stresses the importance of being versatile, and adapting to changes in your environment.
For instance, he admits that “not having access to [a] tricked out professional studio” was challenging during the COVID-19 outbreak.
To address this challenge, the team at FUNimation “found a way to make remote recording work, though, and it’s actually not too bad! It took our team of audio engineers to figure it out!”
3. Juggle Multiple Positions by Learning to Organise
Kyle has faced the challenge of juggling multiple positions at the same time. His roles include a “Casting director, Script Supervisor, Script Editor, Director, Producer, [and additional roles that are done] on a daily basis that are normally split into individual jobs.”
Similarly, aspiring voice actors must also balance multiple activities at once. Auditioning for multiple projects, updating their demo reels, and finding an agent to represent them may be pretty overwhelming.
Although Kyle admits that this challenge may be stressful, it allows him to have “greater control over the shows [he] works on”. To overcome this challenge, he recommends “being organized and planning out as much as you can alleviates a lot of the potential stress of doing it this way.”
4. Search for Opportunities to Grow your Career
Kyle also encourages aspiring voice actors to grow their resume by searching for varied opportunities. He explains how there are plenty of opportunities for voice actors to develop their career at FUNimation and beyond.
“First off, never stop perfecting your craft. Make sure you love acting, because remember, your job as an actor isn’t to act, it’s to audition!” He explains.
“You can always refer to FUNimation’s website for job openings and apply! The DFW area has a pretty big theatre and industrial/commercial voice acting community. Plus, there are a number of video game companies here too. Once you feel confident enough, cut a demo and send that out to agents in your closest major city. Your agent will get work for you.” Kyle explains.
Are Demo Reels Necessary?
Regarding demo reels, Kyle explains that “[they’re not necessary for someone who’s already plugged in, but if you’re on the outside looking in, a demo reel definitely helps.”
“First, make sure you’re ready to cut a demo. Start auditioning for things, get on stage, and all that. Then, I’d record yourself doing different tones, reads, and voices and listen back to it. How does it sound? Ask a friend for honest input. Then, once you feel like you’ve got a good product, go to a studio and have one professionally done.” Kyle explains.
5. Develop Competitive Skills
Finally, Kyle encourages all voice actors to develop “a passion for acting”. Kyle suggests taking classes and joining theatrical programs to develop their skills.
“Cut your teeth on community theater. It’s the proving ground. Some kind of fine arts degree looks good, and of course as many roles/parts/etc. as possible. Even doing things like 24-hour film races look good! It shows you’re dedicated and willing to work hard!” Kyle explains.
“Plus, doing theater, improv, classes, etc. is a great way to meet people who may already be plugged in and can help you with your next step! Go to school and take acting classes! Get on stage! And most importantly: have fun!” He explains.