How can I become a voice actor in cartoons?
If you’re looking for general voice-acting advice, we can tell you getting voice work is pretty tough. It’s showbiz, after all. And, like for most careers in showbiz, it’s 100 times more difficult to get started if you’re not in Los Angeles (look up the folks who do voices on your favorite cartoons and see where they’re located).
The reality is, for most TV cartoons, most of the auditioning process occurs only at the onset of production. For instance, with Adventure Time, Cartoon Network held auditions early on for the roles of Finn, Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, and Marceline. That’s pretty much been it for opportunities to be cast in the show through auditions. Since then, the production has gone after specific actors for parts or relied on its cadre of utility players.
We can suggest you take some voice acting classes. Besides working on your skills, it’s a great way to meet contacts, especially in the classes run by voice casting directors (the ones often doing the hiring). There’s no guarantee, of course, but skill and talent can take you so far; you really need to make contacts.
You should also make it a point to be represented through a voice over agency. Often these agencies, managers, and agents will be your only path to the more major studios. Even then, though, the competition is fierce. For example, for a recent Cartoon Hangover short, we received nearly 600 auditions through agencies alone. And that was for just four roles.
It might be wise to start off with smaller production houses or even independent filmmakers. Immerse yourself with what’s going on in the animation world, especially on the Internet. Identify those filmmakers whose work you think would be better off with you on board. Contact them, and send off your demo reel. No matter how small the project (or pay), you’ll get both experience and credits, two things you’ll need to get a leg up in your career.
Naturally, there are plenty of online resources you should visit. Chief among them is the Voice Over Resource Guide.
Of course, you’ll want to research some of your favorite voiceover artists and find out how they got to be where they are. Maybe the best tips we’ve seen given on how to get into the business are from actor Rob Paulsen. You should dive into his website.
There’s also a terrific post by Mark Evanier that you’ll want to read, too. Mark’s written and voice-directed more than his fair share of animation projects. He’s pretty great with his realistic take on the industry.
We hope this helps. Best of luck. We hope to hear your voice on our cartoons soon.
Frederator Studios presents: How To Make Cartoons FAQs
Photo of Sam Lavagnino as Catbug @ Salami Studios, North Hollywood, California