Recently, I attended a Voice Over Workshop with Portia Scott, who is involved with the entertainment industry in various capacity, from being an actress to working with MCA Universal in marketing and in sitcom development. Now she is a Director and VO agent at Coast to Coast Talent Group.
When doing an audition or any voice acting job, if you’re lucky, you’ll receive specs to the script. And it is our job to convey what is wanted of us in as truthful of a manner as we can in our performance.
Some general questions that’s good to ask yourself before your performance are:
- Who am I?
- Who am I talking to?
- What do I want? (intention)
- Where am I?
Sometimes you can overthink it. And if you’re anything like me this can be detrimental to your performance, especially when after your first read the director/ client tells you they want something else or they want more of something or less of something.
So during the workshop, Portia asked us to reflect on the questions above along with the following questions to help us create a more authentic read:
- What is my biggest dream and fear?
- What flower would I be?
- What song? Theme?
I got in over my head thinking about answering these questions. I started to overanalyze and got confused if I am supposed to think as the character or, as me (Theresa) of what/how the character might be answering these questions.
As I’m aware and know I need to be present when performing instead of being in my head, to be at my best sounding natural and conveying authenticity, I asked Portia, if she can provide any tips or suggestions to help clarify the perspective in which I should be responding to these questions.
And here’s what she said, which tremendously helped! She said, you got to tap into your own life’s experience to bring the authentic dynamics to your performance on the microphone.
How do you tap into that?
You need to find the truth in you, look at the character through your eyes.
Answer the question as the character, and think about who you are, who are you being? What are the trait’s and personality and adjectives that describes the character how the character is feeling in the scene or context you are playing? And then ask yourself:
Where do I connect those elements and how does it live in me?
You need to find the truth in you.
This reminded me of another class I took. It was with Joseph Gordon Levitt. Yes, you read that right – the actor and founder of HITRECORD, a community he built to foster and turn creative ideas into reality where they also offer creative classes known as ‘class projects’.
He shared his creative process for preparing and performing a monologue with naturalism. We started with just doing a cold read and then looked at how to develop the character, and then how to perform it in your own voice.
To explore the character you’re playing, and how to become them he talks about marking up the script and understanding their motivation line by line and needing to touch on the 3 Ws + R.
Who – Know who you are, who you are being What – Are you doing in this scene, In the middle of the scene, throughout the scene, etc..
Where – is the scene taking place? Relationship – what is the relationship between you and the person you are talking to?
When it came to performing, he talks about drilling, getting used to the words by reading the script several times out lout to yourself. Running the lines without feelings or worrying about acting, simply just getting and building the muscle memory to get the words down.
Once you feel good with it, then move on to getting into the feelings. Dropping in the space of really feeling it. Remembering your motivation, and think about a time in your life you felt the same way, or where you could relate to the character. This is where your experiences in life will shine through naturally in your interpretation in your own voice bringing the character to life that makes it unique to you.
At the end of the day, you have to remember, people will tell you need to be more this and that because everyone’s definition of traits and how the character should sound – be it angry, sad, excited, elated, sexy, warm, sincere, etc. can differ.
What you might think sounds sexy, it may sound only warm and excited to someone else. Ultimately, when this happens, remember to take a deep breath, and bear in mind the directions that are given, are just a guide and take it with a grain of salt. There’s no need to overact, as it’s just unnecessary exaggeration.
What is most important is to trust your instincts, trust yourself in delivery in bringing the character and it’s feeling to life tying it to your life experiences. Have Fun!