An actor's repertoire is not just limited to his abilities on stage and screen. Cartoon voice-over work is a lucrative industry among those actors who possess the necessary range and personality to emote, enlighten and entertain using only their voices. Still, before you jump in the recording booth, consider the amount of hard work, marketing prowess and natural talent it takes to make it as a cartoon voice actor. If you're confident you have what it takes, there are ways to help yourself "fine-toon" your skills and promote your talents.
Write a list of your abilities. A wide range of voice talent will enhance your chances of getting noticed, just as a stacked resume will increase your chances of getting a job. There's a reason you're interested in this field, so honestly evaluate your skills and be prepared to work hard to constantly improve them.
Seek professional help. You need to possess the talents of an actor to succeed as a cartoon voice actor, and you'll often need to harness these talents in extreme ways to bring most animated characters to life. Take advantage of resources available to you by taking acting classes, hiring an acting coach or enrolling yourself in a local theatre program. This will teach you how to emote, read lines properly and embrace every word in your script.
Expand your repertoire. As with any talent, practice is key to success. Constantly try new voices, accents and ideas on your friends and family. A large portfolio of voices will broaden your range and, therefore, your employability. The more cartoon characters you can bring to life, the more potential you have for success.
Record everything. It's important that you have access to home recording equipment so you can listen to yourself and evaluate your progress. A microphone with a DAI (Digital Audio Input) can easily be attached directly to your home computer. These have a price range from anywhere between £13 to £130. Simple recording and editing software can be downloaded for free or purchased at a local computer store.
Make an audio CV. Book some time at a local recording studio and make a demo. Make sure your demo covers a wide variety of voices and sounds but isn't so long that anyone who hears it will lose patience. The average employer spends one to two minutes reading a cover letter. Apply that same thinking to your demo. It's a resume, not a magnum opus.
Shop your talent. Make copies of your demo and send it to voice talent agents, studios and online groups such as Voice 123 (see Resources). This is a competitive business, and you'll need to be shamelessly self-promoting. This will require an investment of time and money, but your chances of success increase dramatically if you can impress an agent or catch the ear of a major studio.
Act professionally. Don't let the fact that you're making silly voices distract you from the realisation that this is a legitimate business. More work will only come to you once you've establish yourself as a professional.
Don't pursue cartoon voice acting because it sounds easy. Think of yourself as an actor. Your chances of making it big are limited, but there's always plenty of work available. Cartoons are dubbed into dozens of languages. This niche market could be a great way to get work fast if you are bilingual. Keep in mind that you're not just reading words, you're conveying a personality and an emotion. These elements are extremely exaggerated in cartoon format. Feel free to go off the deep end a bit.