As a professional voice actor, you have many choices when it comes to voiceover work. I specialize in several genres of voice acting including commercial, corporate narration, e-Learning and “explainer videos.” Whatever genres you choose to pursue—I strongly recommend you train and learn from more experienced voiceover talent.
Years of Experience, But Starting Anew
Technically, I’ve been doing voiceover work for more than 30 years. I had my own radio show at the age of 18 (“Mark in The Morning” on WJTH-AM 900 in my hometown of Calhoun, Georgia!) and went on to voice hundreds, if not thousands, of video clips as a TV newscaster including when I worked at CNN, WXIA-TV in Atlanta and KMTV-3 in Omaha. In addition to my career in TV news, I voiced a significant number of corporate and client projects in my role as a marketer.
However, I really didn’t start voice acting until two years ago—when I started training as a TV/film actor at Drama, Inc. here in Atlanta. And, now, to hone my skills in voiceover even more, I’ve started training at Atlanta Voiceover Studio. As a TV/film actor, I have literally auditioned hundreds of times over the past two years and each experience is a chance for me to learn, grow and perform. The same applies to my voice acting career. I am like a sponge soaking up advice on how to deliver the kind of voiceover narration that advertising agencies, producers and voice buyers are looking for.
Be Authentic in Your Voiceover Style
When I first started in radio, I envied the guys with the deep, husky voices who could boom lines like “77-Degrees in the Land of the Trees!” Or, the announcers who used to intro me as the anchor of the evening news. “The News Starts Now!” My voice was much different, and would never be that deep, nor loud. What I learned at Drama Inc. and am learning at Atlanta Voiceover Studio is that I had been doing it all wrong, all along. I’ll never forget the night Catherine Dyer (my first acting coach, along with her husband Jason MacDonald) told me in class: “We have to break you from being a newscaster.”
She was right. In broadcasting, you project. In acting, you are. It’s not about the volume of your voice, it’s the realness in the interaction with the actors around you. If you think about it, some of the best actors out there—like Matthew McConaughey—speak very softly. They draw you in, pull you close, make you listen—and often hang, on every word. They don’t need to scream to make you listen—they make you listen so you believe. I’ve tried to learn from McConaughey (you must see his performance in True Detective on HBO!) and my more “quiet performances” have been my best.
Words of Wisdom from Talent Agents
My TV/film agent, Jacob Lawson, who runs Privilege Talent here in Atlanta, was blunt and straightforward in our first meeting. “I think we can get you parts as a reporter or newscaster,” he said. “But before we pitch you for anything else, you’ve got to get into acting class. Once you show us you can act, we’ll go for different parts.
So, that’s what I did. I started my training—with zero acting experience, albeit as “Buffalo Bill” Cody in my high school adaptation of “Annie Get Your Gun.” For the first 3-4 months in my acting classes, I felt like a fake. Everything I thought I knew about “broadcasting” had to be cast aside. I had to simply be me, in the moment as the character. And, my job wasn’t to act. My job was to live truthfully in imaginary circumstances. It was a real challenge for me. Then, one night after hours and hours of instruction and dozens of auditions, it happened. I had a breakthrough performance in class. As we re-watched the tape, my classmates broke into applause. It almost brought me to tears. That’s when I knew I could be a real actor. As I’ve gotten better as a TV/film actor, so have the roles. Yes, I love playing the part of a newscaster on shows like “True Detective,” ”Mindhunter,” “Mr. Mercedes” and “Reprisal” or the head of the FBI in a movie like “Bosses.” But thanks to my training, I’m now landing roles like a high-powered politician turned killer (coming soon!).
Be The Voiceover You Voice Best
Luckily, for guys like me, being real is where it’s at in voice acting today. Clients are looking for authenticity and approachability. They want credible without the hammer, they want warm, friendly and kind.
They want me. And they want you—and whatever special talent you bring to voice acting. But they want us to constantly train, improve, learn our craft and live it every day through the scripts they send us. So, now, I move forward with the next chapter in what I hope will be the continuation of a great life and career. This is definitely my third act, and I intend to keep it real.