Whether we plan to or not, most of us play different roles in our daily lives. You probably don’t act the same in front of your boss as you do your mother or close friends. You probably don’t wear the same clothes if you’re going to the gym, a business meeting or a wedding.
One of the fun things about being an actor is that you never know who you’ll be portraying on any given day. I had four VO auditions this morning for roles including several historical figures in a museum documentary, a well-known movie character for a casino game, two types of customer service reps and a personable announcer. Having the scripts gives me time to think about my approach, review the lines and do any research, such as checking out YouTube to better approximate the movie character’s voice and tone. And of course with VO auditions, I can record several takes and then decide which one(s) to submit.
However, when roles are similar, such as the customer service reps, the challenge is giving each a distinct sound without being too charactery. To be conversational while also conveying “playful” or “determined” or whatever else is asked for. If the only descriptor is “30s woman” or “40s woman,” successful adjustments for age are often even more in the ear of the beholder than nailing a specific quality. Will the client think a slightly lower, more mature tone is suffiicient, or do they want to hear something more? With VO, you don’t get the added benefit of wardrobe/hair, posture, expressions and gestures to help develop your character.
Auditions providing snippets of info are a little less fun because I like to prepare and plan. Adapting on the fly to the unknown can add a layer of stress, as can trying to find an unfamiliar and far away location. I have an audition for what the listing says is a network TV pilot. But it’s not through an agent, so a bit of skepticism seeps in. What I think is the production company’s website looks legitimate. I know the basic stats about the two roles I’m auditioning for, but was told the rest is confidential. The audition is improv, so there aren’t any sides to help me learn more about the project and plot. I have to embrace the possibilities and believe my years of improv training and experience will serve me well.
Upcoming projects include a reading of a piece written by a rape survivor and multiple as yet unspecified parts on camera and VO in a large e-Learning project. And more straight narration. Who knows who I’ll get to be next?