Yuri Lowenthal, an American actor, producer and screenwriter, has been featured in several prominent roles in cartoons, anime and video games. With years of experience under his belt, Yuri shares seven key strategies that have allowed him to thrive as a voice actor.
Strategy 1: Be Passionate About What You Do Strategy 2: Join a Workshop or Initiative to Develop Your Skills Strategy 3: Do your Research Strategy 4: Find Innovative Ways to Search for Jobs and Opportunities 1. Finding Opportunities Online 2. Finding and Working With an Agent 3. Travelling to Entertainment Hotspots Strategy 5: Reach Out to Companies Strategy 6: Create a Demo Reel What are Casting Directors looking for in Demo Reels? Strategy 7: Adapt to Changes Lessons Learnt from Working at Home
Strategy 1: Be Passionate About What You Do
Yuri stresses the importance of being passionate about your job. He encourages voice actors to “explore acting in all its forms to find out if they love acting enough to embark on a career in it”.
“It’s easy to love when you’re working, but you’ve got to love it even when it isn’t smooth sailing. The people I’ve seen really succeed over a long period of time in this business are the strong actors who really love what they do.” He explains.
Strategy 2: Join a Workshop or Initiative to Develop Your Skills
Yuri also encourages voice actors to join initiatives or workshops to develop their skills. They may achieve this by “studying drama at school, doing theatre in college, joining a local theatre company, taking improv classes, whatever’s at their disposal.”
Strategy 3: Do your Research
Voice actors may also use insightful resources to develop their careers. Yuri suggests visiting “Dee Bradley Baker’s website iwanttobeavoiceactor.com, or check out the book [he] wrote with [his] wife, actor Tara Platt, VOICE-OVER VOICE ACTOR: The Extended Edition. Both good places to start for more info!”
Strategy 4: Find Innovative Ways to Search for Jobs and Opportunities
Yuri suggests that voice actors may find jobs and opportunities by:
1. Finding Opportunities Online
With regards to finding opportunities online, Yuri states that there are a lot of resources online, but he “[doesn’t] recommend “pay-to-play” sites that require you to pay a monthly fee to host a demo and receive auditions”.
2. Finding and Working with an Agent
Voice actors may also rely on an agent for assistance, as Yuri admits that “the majority of [his] auditions come through [his] agent”.
When it comes to finding an agent, Yuri suggests that it all starts with these questions:
“If you’ve done some of these things, then send that demo, or a sample of the work you’ve done recently to as many agents as you feel comfortable sending to. Maybe choose 5-10 agencies, research their contact info (on voiceoverresourceguide.com or elsewhere) and put together a concise email with your demo attached.” Yuri encourages.
“Some agencies may not want to open unsolicited attachments for security purposes, so you may want to include a link where your demo could be hosted online. Then follow up after a week (by phone if possible) to see if they’ve had a chance to listen to your demo. If not, say you’ll give them a call in another week.” Yuri explains.
“Now sometimes they’ll just say no, but remember that agencies change their rosters all the time, and if on your first attempt they’re not looking for someone like you, in a couple of months they may have changed that tune.” Yuri suggests.
“That said, you don’t need an agent to get started reaching out directly to companies that are making the type of things that you want to get involved in. Or, if you’re into commercials, to the ad agencies that produce them.” Yuri concludes.
3. Travelling to Entertainment Hotspots
Voice actors may find greater opportunities for employment and to build their skills by “heading to a city where the work is”.
“Ultimately, if you feel that this is going to be your life, you may have to move.” Yuri suggests.
Strategy 5: Reach Out to Companies
According to Yuri, the best way that aspiring voice actors may build their resume is to “reach out directly to the companies making the things, as opposed to the directors.”
“Find out what studios do the dubbing and reach out to them directly, either by email, or an old-fashioned phone call. Follow them on social media and see if you can find any info there. Networking events can’t hurt, but like anything, be sure you do a little research first!” Yuri encourages.
Strategy 6: Create a Demo Reel
Yuri also stresses the importance of producing a great demo reel.
“Unless you’ve already got a lot of work under your belt and you can refer people to that, a demo is pretty necessary. Otherwise, you’ve got nothing to show yourself off with.” He explains.
“Now, an actor starting out will be tempted to just produce something by the seat of their pants. But, unless you’re already an audio engineer, I wouldn’t recommend that. It’d be the equivalent of an on-camera actor shooting a selfie and sending it out to casting directors. This is the place you want to invest your money in the beginning.” He continues.
“Research people who produce demos and call a few of them to see who you click with. You can find a bunch here: VoiceOverResourceGuide.com. It’ll cost some money, but start a fund and throw a few bucks in a jar every week and you’ll get there. You want to make as good an impression as you can when you send your demo out.” He suggests.
What are Casting Directors looking for in Demo Reels?
“I can’t necessarily speak to what an individual casting director will be looking for in a reel on any given day. It depends on what they’re currently trying to cast. However, I think the most important thing you can do on your reel is to give them a good sense of who you are and what you do well right away.” Yuri continues.
“You can record a bunch of different samples for your reel, but lead with your strong suit, which will likely, but not necessarily, be your natural voice. You may not be right for what they’re casting that day, but hopefully they’ll see where you might fit, and file you away for future castings. And make sure that what you ARE putting on your reel is your absolute best. Your reel is not the best place to try out things you aren’t completely comfortable with.” Yuri advises.
Strategy 7: Adapt to Changes
Given that the voice acting industry is becoming more competitive, Yuri emphasizes the importance of being flexible and adapting to industry changes.
For instance, Yuri explains that “most [voice actors] have been recording from home since the COVID-19 lockdown, so the biggest challenge for me has been having to learn how to engineer my own sessions remotely.”
“I’m not an engineer and I can’t wait until we can get back in the studio so I don’t have to do it anymore and risk ruining takes, or sometimes the whole session! It’s also distracting me a little from my acting, but it’s necessary these days if you want to work.” Yuri continues.
“Luckily, I had a pretty good recording setup at home before the pandemic hit, but I’ve had to make a lot of investments to stay competitive, for sure. Subscriptions to services like Source Connect and ipDTL to be able to stream the session to another studio, a couple of different mics, etc. I think we’ve all had to learn new skills to keep going through this time, but it’s been worth it to be able to continue working from home!” Yuri concludes.
Lessons Learnt from Working at Home
“[When I was working from home, I] learned a lot more about ProTools. I was only a casual user before, but now I’m a slightly more than casual user.” Yuri states.
Yuri also shares technical tricks that he’s learnt to improve his recordings:
“If your laptop is close to the mic and your fan kicks in, you can put a cold pack that you’d use for a sports injury, say, underneath your laptop to get the fan to shut off.” Yuri shares.
“I’d say the most important thing I’ve learned is how to “treat” my recording space to make it as quiet/dead as possible. Sometimes I don’t hear problems that an engineer on the other end may hear, so I’ve taken to hanging different things in my booth to break up any flat, reflective surfaces, and to at least have some of that stuff nearby (moving blankets, squishy foam cubes, and even “river pebble style bathmats”) in case someone I’m recording for expresses a concern.” He continues.
“I think we’ve all had to learn new skills to keep going through this time, but it’s been worth it to be able to continue working from home!” Yuri concludes.