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Although lots of anime is now subtitled, there's still a thriving market for voice dubbing. To become an anime voice actor requires training, and ideally some experience as a voice actor in other industries. Anime distributors prefer using known quantities, so an experienced voice actor has an advantage over an inexperienced rookie.
Voice acting is different from stage or screen acting, but acting experience is still important. Take theater classes and work with theater groups to get started. Training with an experienced voice coach can help you control how you speak and deliver your lines.
There's a wide range of projects that need good voice actors, such as audiobooks, commercials and video games. Gaining experience in any such field can help train your voice and demonstrate your professionalism. Doing non-anime gigs is also good for the bottom line. Most anime actors can't rely on that alone to pay the bills, so having an assortment of projects helps you stay solvent.
To sell yourself as an anime voice actor or in any voice-acting field, you'll need a demo. This is a collection of recordings showing you delivering a friendly voice, an evil voice, an authoritative voice and so on. It's best to have your reel professionally produced, which will cost you, but it'll pay off down the line. As a professional expense, it may be tax deductible.
You'll need to hire an agent to represent you; the demo can help with that. Networking in the industry at conventions or on social networks can also help you make key contacts. So will moving to a city with a major dubbing industry, such as New York. Anime directors aren't likely to call you in if you live 500 miles away from the studio.
Getting Anime Roles
To get your first roles, you'll have to audition, and auditions aren't open to everyone. The dubbing company typically issues a casting call inviting actors the directors know to come in. If you have a body of voice-over work and an impressive demo reel, that might do the trick.
Once a company sees that you're good, you may start to get calls more frequently. Just being around the studios regularly helps: For minor roles the director may simply call in whoever is convenient, for example, actors working on another project there.
If you don't get cast, don't give up. Lots of factors can play into casting, such as how close you sound to the original Japanese voice actor. Just because you're not right for the first or fifth role doesn't mean you won't land a great gig on audition number six.
Over the course of his career, Fraser Sherman has reported on local governments, written about how to start a business and profiled professionals in a variety of career fields.. He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs. His website is frasersherman.com
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