A VOICE ACTOR OR VOICE MODEL?
Published November 10, 2011
There has for a long time been a misunderstanding within the voiceover industry. Sometimes clients want actors, and sometimes they want models.
As voice talents, we have to determine if we are being asked to be a voice actor or a voice model? There is absolutely nothing wrong with either, but it helps to understand the difference.
What’s the difference?
Well, normally we think of a model wearing articles of clothing and showing them off with the attitude the client wants. The model’s specialty is to show off the fashion. The voice model is really no different. He/she simply takes the words and shows them off.
Don LaFontaine was a classic voice model. He didn’t create characters. He just made words come alive. He was a genius at that. Sam Elliot is a voice model. He doesn’t create a character (he is his own character). He just uses his voice to make the words something special.
The voice actor, on the other hand, takes the words and creates a character; he/she breathes life into the words to make them more than words. With a great voice actor, the words become emotion, and color, and texture.
The examples of voice actors are innumerable. Personally, I think Tom Kane and Roberta Solomon are the ultimate examples. Each of them can do the voice modeling thing, but when called on to create character with the copy…emotion…a sense of attachment, they are the best.
Now please understand that I could have listed pages and pages of voice talents that excel as actors and models. I simply don’t have the time and space to do that here. But my point is that sometimes the client wants a voice model, and sometimes the client wants a voice actor. As a voice talent, it’s my job to figure what my client wants.
However, there is that little limitation of “the writing.” It is the very thing that allows great stage and screen actors to excel…or bomb. On a much smaller scale, the same principle is true in the VO industry.
I’m always somewhat amused and frustrated when clients say something like, “It’s really dry copy, so you need to bring it to life.” Really? Isn’t that sort of like trying to inflate a popped balloon? I mean, I’ll give you my best shot, and color the key words and phrases, but dry copy is, well…dry copy. It is what it is.
Aside from that, it’s my responsibility as a voice talent to figure out if my client is looking to show off the words, or to take the words and create a character that evokes emotion.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Generally, car commercials are voice modeling. I have a number of car dealer clients that just want me to show off their words. And that’s what works for them! Why try to make it anything other than what it is? On the other hand, hospitals generally want me to create some emotion with their words and thoughts. That’s voice acting.
So, as a client, are you looking for a voice model or a voice actor? As a voice talent, can you differentiate between the two?
Each has its strengths. It’s just a matter of determining what works best.