Push Yourself Beyond Your Comfort Zone
I have been writing articles and doing interviews for AWN for a little more than five years now. I have covered subjects like finally "Getting That Job," "Promotions and Marketing," "Giving Back," "Finding Your Own Voice," "Being a Professional," etc. After having written so many articles expressing my viewpoint, I decided to interview other professionals to get their "take" on what is most important.
I have had the privilege of interviewing some of the top pros in the industry. The common theme amongst them is: "Push Yourself Beyond Your Comfort Zone."
When I think about the jobs I have landed over the past 28 years, I can't help but notice that when I have "thought outside the box" or even dared to "surprise myself," I have not only found that I was far more capable of doing way more than I ever anticipated, but also ended up getting cast in the part.
For example, years ago, 1981 to be exact, I was up for a quirky part on-camera for a young woman who was legally blind and had a wacky sense of humor. I had just worked with an improv group that included Jonathan Winters and he had given me a red lobster visor-type hat made of foam. I decided to wear that to the audition with a pair of coke-bottle-thick glasses. As I sat in the waiting room, I donned the lobster-hat and glasses and just sat there. I was called in to meet the producers and to read for the part. I forgot that I couldn't read with those glasses on and everyone had a good laugh, including me. Despite that, I didn't apologize or get embarrassed. In fact, I was offered the lead role. Later on, during the shoot, I found out that the producers had seen me with my "get up" on in the waiting room. They decided right then and there that I should have the part! That took a lot of courage and I didn't even know it!
Another time, I auditioned for a role on Cheers. At the end of the scene, my character walks out of the room. Without any apology or hesitation, I finished the scene and I opened the door and just kept walking! In fact, I walked to my car, got in and drove home. By the time I got home, the phone was literally ringing and my agent told me that I got the part! Beautiful! -- another 10 points for not doing what is expected.
As for voice-overs, I steal from people all the time -- people in real life and other performances that I see/hear, especially those on-camera. What really helps me is to observe the shape of a person's jaw or the amount and alignment of someone's teeth! I am inspired by a healthy under-bite or over-bite and a good split right down the middle makes for a great lisp! This is beyond just "making a funny voice". When I was hired to be the voice of Nelson Muntz, I had no idea what a bully would sound like. I just imagined that even though he was only about 10 or 12 years old, he probably drank coffee and smoked cigarettes…and that is where the sound of Nelson came from.
Here are some other helpful suggestions from some real pros in the industry: