As actors in Chicago, there are lots of ways that we can make money by doing our art: plays, commercials, TV and movies, and of course, voiceover.
That’s why we’re excited to announce new voiceover classes at Green Shirt Studio, taught by Kathleen Puls Andrade, a professional actor, improviser, writer and voiceover artist who also teaches voiceover classes at Second City and has recorded spots for everything from Nascar to Fisher Nuts, Quaker Oats, Morton Salt, Oberweiss and more.
We caught up with Andrade to talk to her more about how she first got into voiceover, how acting for voiceover is different from acting for the stage, how long it takes to start making money at it and more.
Q: How were you first exposed to doing voiceover work?
A: My father has a fabulous voice and he decided to get some coaching to do voiceover work back in the day. I went along with him to one of his sessions and I started directing him! We both agree that I was pretty obnoxious, but I’m pretty sure that’s where I got the bug.
Q: What is something you learned when you first starting doing voiceover?
A: I always tell people who are interested in doing voiceover to take a class. My first demo was awful because I thought I knew what I was doing. But I didn’t. After I took a class, I made another demo with the woman who ended up being one of my agents.
Q: What is a skill people need to learn to do voiceover well?
A: When I first started, I learned that you really have to use your hands and body to help propel the words out of your mouth in a certain way. Also, another biggie is to listen more and talk less. Listen to direction, the engineer, the director, writer, etc. Pay attention to what’s happening around you so you can give them your best performance.
Q: What was one of your favorite voiceover sessions you’ve ever done?
A: I did a Quaker spot where they videotaped us in the session. I found out later that they were going to animate according to what we were doing in the recording booth. Anything with characters is always fun. I always have a good time when I’m in a session, especially when I get to do comedy dialogue with other funny actors!
Q: What is the difference between acting for the stage and acting for voiceover?
A: There’s not a ton of difference, but there is a difference. You have to be mindful of technique and what words to tap on and how to get the product name across. You have to ask yourself, “Who am I talking to?” when you’re reading a script. You can do whatever you want behind the mic physically, as long as your face is in front of the mic.
Q: Tell me a little about your class. What kinds of things will people learn in the class?
A: It’s a really fun class. They’ll learn about mic technique, how to analyze copy, auditioning, the business, announcers, video games, dialogues, character creation, and they’ll spend a whole lot of time on the mic! I also encourage students to physicalize as much as possible behind the mic, and I teach them techniques to help them with instant character creation as well.
Q: How would you describe your teaching style?
A: I describe my teaching style as encouragingly and entertainingly constructive. I love to encourage students to step outside of their boxes. I’m direct but in a constructive way. I’ll never tell you that you can’t do something because you never know what’ll happen. I’ll be honest and tell you what I think you need, and if you have certain challenges to surmount but I won’t tell you that you can’t do it. And we laugh a lot!
Q: Many people assume getting voiceover work is easy. How long does it take most people to start making money at it?
A: That’s the million dollar question. It’s different for everyone. I remember going to Los Angeles to have a meeting with a voiceover agent who used to be in Chicago. I asked him that same question. He kind of looked at me like, “How would I know?” Basically, it depends on your skill, opportunities, persistence, a good demo, auditioning times ten, and a lot of luck. It’s pretty competitive now. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn!
Q: What’s fun for you about teaching voiceover?
A: I love watching students blossom and start to understand what it’s all about. I love watching them make discoveries and love to watch them have fun behind the mic. Even if someone doesn’t pursue voiceover, at least they have another tool in their tool belt. It does help make someone a better communicator as well.