A few weeks ago I got to interview actor DC Douglas. I knew him as Legion from Mass Effect 2, one of my favorite games, but he’s had a long career doing many different kinds of acting–on camera and off.
A lot of people growing up today want to be part of making games–whether as artists, programmers, writers, game designers, actors, and more. The game industry is difficult to enter though, and it’s important to know what you’re getting into. What better way to learn about voice acting than from an expert?
I sat down with DC Douglas (well, via Google Hangout) to ask him about his own career (he’s in Sharknado 2!), and about voice acting in video games. I learned some things that really surprised me–did you know that in the 90s, no one knew what they were acting out?
Things have changed a lot since then. To hear about DC Douglas’s experience, check out our video interview!
Here’s the expert advice that you should take into account if you want to go into voice acting.
1) Be in New York or L.A.
“I’ll be in someplace like Indiana or something…and they want to be voice actors, but they don’t want to leave the town,” DC told me. Unfortunately, that pretty much negates the possibility of having a video game career. “You’ve got to go to the hubs.”
To get steady work in acting, you need to be able to go to auditions regularly, and meet with casting directors and agents. All of that action happens in big cities like New York and L.A.
2) “Go to be an actor, not a video game voice actor.”
“That can be your dream and that can be the thing that you try to focus on, but be an actor for all of it.” Actors have to work lots of different jobs on the way to whatever they consider their ideal. Being a professional and honing your craft is part of that journey–no matter what acting job you’re doing.
3) Take acting classes. And then more acting classes.
Douglas recommends taking acting classes for at least six months, “because you’ve got to learn what it means to be an actor.” He also recommends improv classes and singing classes–and all this before taking a voice over class. “They all have their own way of doing it, but if you have all that as a basis, you can see…who’s got more truth to what they’re teaching you, and you can find your own way.”
4) Talk to yourself, record yourself, and listen.
“It’s funny how people don’t like the sound of their voice,” Douglas says. “We know what is sounds like muffled by bone and muscle.” But becoming familiar with what your voice sounds like is part of the job. “Once you get your ego out of there…you listen to it and go “Okay, this is how I can change or alter the voice,” you know, to please people or not please people.”
In the voice acting tips on his website, Douglas says to “get so used to your voice that silence sounds wrong.” An actor’s voice is their primary tool, so you need to be familiar with it.
5) Don’t be afraid to diversify.
“There’s always some kind of voice over you can be doing, if you’re in L.A. or New York,” Douglas says. “You could be doing corporate medical narration. You could be doing people’s voicemails. There’s always something you could be doing.”
Doing work like that, as well as having a “survival job” (actor lingo for jobs that you take to cover necessities while you’re auditioning for steady acting work), is crucial for an actor starting out.
Check out the interview above for more great advice, and drop DC Douglas a line on Twitter to thank him for his hard work!