There is a huge influx of new content being developed every day, and with it comes a budding demand for performers- including ones who perform for a microphone and not a camera.
As more and more industries are tapping into the art of voice over, a growing need for voice actors has risen and it encompasses people of all ages.
Things like commercials, audiobooks, overdubbed videos, video games, and more are expanding the horizon on what a voice over career can look like, and many people are taking advantage of the opportunity.
However, as with anything in the entertainment industry, breaking into the field is no simple task. It takes skill and perseverance, and if you are the parent of a budding child voice actor, it may take a little more work.
Is your child creative and bubbly? Do you find that they’re making up voices or singing around the house?
Child voice acting might be the right choice for them! While the voice acting industry is known to be mainly dominated by adult voice actors, more and more places look for authentic children voices.
The benefit of having a child voice actor is the fact that no adult could really beat the authenticity of a child’s voice- pure, innocent, honest and free of impersonation. That’s why, while the industry is a difficult one to get into, with the right amount of work and practice a child voice actor can really change the way a form of media is perceived.
Is Child Voice Acting the Right Choice for You?
Before you jump right in, you should first ask yourself, is voice acting right for my child? While you might think your child would enjoy and do well in voice acting, you should gauge their own level of interest in it first.
They may not even really know what voice acting is; maybe show them a video of voice actors doing voice over work and see if it excites them.
It might even be surprising for them to know that making fun voices can actually be someone’s job!
Being a voice actor has the potential to be a very fun and fulfilling experience. For a child voice actor, it can pave the way to a very skilled voice actor later in life and more opportunities.
However, before diving in the industry, it would probably be helpful to first have your child take online introductory courses on voice acting to see if it is something that truly interests them.
As with any activity that you want to have your child join, you need to make sure that you keep the fun and excitement in your child’s acting journey.
Regardless of their amazing ability to imitate their favorite cartoon characters, you can’t force them to mold into someone they wouldn’t love to be in the future.
Through lessons and gauging your child’s interest, you may also be able to tell if your child has a few key voice actor qualities that the industry looks for.
Someone in child voice acting should be creative when making up different voices for different characters. They need to know how to give characters strong personalities. A good way to practice this is presenting your child with different images of animated characters and letting your child come up with voices for each one.
When doing voice over work, the way your child performs will be receiving input from voice directors as well as other clients.
They will most likely give your child a few notes on their acting and your child should be able to adapt their performance accordingly. Child voice actors should be open to ideas as well as being flexible with their performance.
Voice acting also takes a lot of focus. A voice actor must put a decent amount of vocal energy into each line to have the best delivery, as well as matching the voice to the video.
This all takes a high level of concentration and endurance, and practicing these attributes can help your child succeed. You can try having your child read a short script of a scene in a cartoon they enjoy. See if they are able to focus and more importantly, if they find the activity fun and engaging.
Myths about Child Voice Acting
There are a few myths about child voice acting and voice acting as a whole that may discourage you or your child from pursuing this interest. While the industry is daunting, myths shouldn’t be stopping you and your child from pursuing a dream they love doing.
One myth is that voice acting requires having a nice voice. While having a nice voice isn’t a draw back by any means, the versatility of the voice is what is most important. Achieving that versatility comes from practicing acting skills, as well as confidence and commitment.
Another myth is that voice acting is only for adults. As mentioned, the more the market grows, the more diverse ages and faces are needed to add talent to many different forms of media. Many child actors work on series like The Backyardigans or Disney’s Palace Pets (x)
Another myth is that the changes in a child’s voice will ruin their career. This is not necessarily the case. There are many times when gradual voice changes are an asset to actors, often paying the roles of younger characters and then growing up with them.
As voices for boys get deeper, they will be able to audition for more roles and the opportunities open up a lot more.
You should also not go in assuming that voice acting is easier than other kinds of acting. As we will go into more detail later on, you’ll understand that voice acting and acting are complex in their own way and still require lots of practice, discipline, and even a coach!
Now that you know what you’re looking for and your child is excited for this opportunity, it’s time to get to work! As mentioned above, an online introductory course on voice acting is a great way to understand the basics.
More than just the basics, however, the next step is finding a coach. Voice acting is more than just talking into a microphone, acting is right in the name after all!
A coach will act much like a mentor, and finding the right one can be a process. You want your child to like them, for them to be excellent at their craft, and for them to be just as encouraging of your child as you are. You want to find a coach whose personality and teaching style fit’s your child’s temperament.
Proper coaching and ongoing classes are a huge factor in success. Lots of places offer group voice acting classes and workshops, many of which are targeted to kids and teens. Coaches may sometimes offer private one-on-one lessons remotely as well, so there are many options to try out as you see what best fits your child.
As mentioned above, child voice acting is not just talking into a microphone, but adding character to the voices being done. Having prior acting experience is a huge step ahead in voice acting.
If your child has limited acting experience, perhaps invest more in drama clubs, acting classes and things similar so they have that under their belt. Being able to act is at the very core of voice acting, so giving your child opportunities to hone their skills and be creative while also having fun will benefit them immensely in the long run.
What Equipment Do You Need for Child Voice Acting?
When you’re first starting out in child voice acting, there isn’t a huge need to invest in super expensive equipment or a professional home recording studio.
While a fancy microphone isn’t necessary, you should invest in a decent one and recording software to get started. These will be necessary tools in order to record and edit auditions, or for recording demos and sample reads for voiceover coaching sessions.
There are many affordable USB microphones on the market, and these simply plug straight into your computer. There are also options for free downloadable software to record and edit audio with, as well as tutorials on how to use them online.
Once your child starts getting more work, you can start to consider upgrading your equipment and maybe even finding soundproofing equipment to soundproof a section of your living space for recording purposes.
When your child gets a coach, you will most likely be relying on them to help produce a demo for your child as well as practice using the equipment in the coach’s studio.
Once your child takes quite some time practicing, learning, and overall honing their skills, it’s time to evaluate your child’s skills and their desire to go into the field.
Once you’ve both agreed to take the next big step into the competitive market of voiceover, you can then consider setting up a small home studio with above-average equipment.
At this early stage, however, it doesn’t have to be the best studio setup: as some professional voice actors recall, they sometimes start out in a walk-in closet (x)!
Practice and Patience
Your child will not necessarily need a voiceover demo in order to get started in the business of child voice acting. Eventually there will be a need for a professional demo as a marketing tool, but in these very early stages it’s best to focus on coaching and practice rather than rushing to make a demo.
This means that your child will have the opportunity to hone their skills and their creativity before making their demo. The final result through lots of commitment and focus will be a great sounding demo!
A voice acting demo is an audio file, around 60-90 seconds long, that compiles snippets of your child’s script reading talents. It is referred to some in the business as a sort of resume, a way to show off your child’s skills and land them gigs (x).
There are a number of casting sites like LA Casting and Backstage ( x) where you can create a profile for your child in order to start receiving audition notices and submitting auditions.
When filling out profiles like these it’s important to remember to emphasize your child’s vocal strengths. This will help get your child audition notices that are more aligned to their vocal range and personality.
A lot of first time work will most likely be freelance jobs; they may be paid, but they might not.
It takes a lot of patience and commitment to get someplace bigger. The unique voice acting business is constantly growing and evolving. If your child is interested in the business, make sure to do research and learn more about the industry.
Luckily, there are many excellent resources like YouTube web series, community Facebook groups, and podcasts that share expert discussions, offer Q&A threads, and comment on industry resources (x).
Remember before traveling down this path to ask yourself if your child really wants to pursue child voice acting. If the answer is a hundred percent yes, then take the leap and be prepared to invest time, money, and care for your child as you traverse this together.
But if the answer is only so-so, then perhaps rethink the undertaking. The voice acting business is fun and infinitely rewarding, but it is also a highly competitive field that doesn’t offer fast rewards with no effort. Like with any passion, it requires hard work, training, and commitment.
What to Keep in Mind
WHen clients cast your child for voice acting, they are also casting you, the parent! That means that your schedule should be flexible enough to allow communication between you and the project managers, as well as being able to help your child with recording voice over audios on a deadline.
As a parent, you will also be expected to accompany your child for in-person audition call-backs or recording sessions at a studio.
Production places that hire child actors generally tend to have longer production schedules due to having children go to school and needing shorter recording sessions than adults.
Remember then that for each project you make sure your own personal schedule allows you to be there and support your child during production.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, as mentioned before, when your child auditions for a role, it will probably be more likely to get rejected than accepted. As everyone knows, rejections can be hard, especially for a child with big aspirations.
Remember to always be there for your child and let them know that the rejections are a normal part of the auditioning process, and to remember that with each failure comes a lesson to be learned and a chance to be better next time.
Remember that voice acting should be a fun and rewarding experience, for you and your child.
This is a chance for you to nurture the creative and bubbly seed that your child carries with them, and with the right amount of love and patience you can see it bloom into success!