It is challenging to find work as a voice-over artist within animation. Competition is fierce and only a small percentage of actors will get the opportunity to do anime. Animation producers prefer to hire well-established voice-over artists and celebrities to bring their animated characters to life. But if you have acting experience, can take direction and have a distinctive voice, together with a repertoire of character voices, then you might sufficiently impress the anime producers to hire you.
Apply to drama school to undertake a three-year actor training program, such as a BA Honors Degree in Acting. These courses cover a range of performance modules, which should include an aspect of voice-over training. Actors need to be versatile and fully trained in all aspects of performance to be available for other types of acting work when they are not doing voice-over work. After graduation, you can concentrate on learning more about voice-over work by attending workshops or short courses advertised in 'The Stage' newspaper.
Record a voice reel to help you find work as a voice-over artist. A voice reel is a demo tape to show your vocal range to a potential employer. You can not find voice-over work without it as it is your calling card. Do not record it yourself as it will lack the professional standards that animation producers require. Contact voice reel companies to arrange a recording session in the recording studio to produce your professional voice reel. A list of companies can be found in the Actor's Handbook or on the Internet. The studio will guide you through the process of making your demo. They will help you choose a broad range of voice samples to produce a reel that demonstrates a wide range of voice styles. It is essential to include a range of character voices that would best sell your voice to animation producers. You will need sufficient copies of your CD to distribute to production companies, agents and casting directors.
Find a theatrical agent who deals with voice-over artists. Having an agent increases your employment prospects. They also help to negotiate contracts. A list of agents is available in the Actor's Handbook.
Apply for voice-over work by responding to casting breakdowns available on Equity's website, Spotlight or via other casting sites. Job information for actors is not free. You will pay a subscription fee to use a casting service.
Send mailshots to approach voice-over agents, attract the interest of casting directors or to get cast by animation production companies. This involves sending: a cover letter, a 10-by-8-inch actor's head shot, a voice reel and an actor's resume listing your acting skills, training and acting experience. The resume should include details on your vocal quality---whether it sounds clear, husky or strong. Also, specify your acting age range, which is the realistic age you can play as an actor. Introduce who you are, why you are writing and why you want to work as a voice-over artist in anime. You need to demonstrate your training, experience and talent as an actor. Importantly, you need to stand out from the hundreds of applications they receive every week.
Prepare a range of character voices for a possible casting as a voice-over artist. At a casting you need to demonstrate your versatility as a voice-over actor and may be asked to perform a number of different characters. It is essential to be familiar with the role you are auditioning for so that you can demonstrate an appropriate voice. It is futile to audition for the role of a manic robot but sound like an old Irish leprechaun. Animation producers look for distinctive voices rather than the stereotypical. So if you are auditioning for a witch, you should avoid the stereotypical cackle.
Be at least 15 minutes early to an audition. Warm-up your voice beforehand so your voice is clear for your audition. Ensure your voice characters are developed and are delivered with emotion, to bring your character to life. Be persistent despite the numerous rejections you will receive.
On your voice reel, avoid cartoon-like voices as producers want to hear a more real quality to a character's voice. Do not be late to an audition as it is unprofessional for any actor and demonstrates unreliability. Once you have sent your mailshots to animation producers, do not phone or e-mail them about the progress of your application. You will need to wait. If it takes too long, it is acceptable to follow up with a postcard. Do not do impersonations at an audition, as producers do not require mimics but distinctive and original character voices.