Rejected: The Three Reasons a Voiceover Agent Passed on You
So, you’ve built yourself a nice career, and you are ready to take the next steps. You want those big commercials or those network promos, maybe you even think you’re right for movie trailers. There is only one problem; The NY, LA, and Chicago agents who control that business, aren’t taking notice of you.
Why are you being rejected? It’s nothing personal. The reasons are usually simple and have nothing to do with you necessarily. Here are the three most common reasons an agent may not be interested in your talents and what you can possibly do about it.
1) The Problem: They already have you — If you have seen La-La Land, you saw Emma Stone’s character show up to a casting session only to see a bunch of red headed Emma Stone “types” waiting to read for the exact same role. That’s the physical manifestation of a common problem in voiceovers. It is totally possible to have too many of the same types. This is especially true with older actors. Generally, if you are man or woman in your 50’s making a living off voiceover work, you have successfully navigated the voiceover world well enough to still be standing as you get older. In other words, you are really, really good and probably have made your agents a ton of money over the prior 10–20 years. You are also the reason your agent doesn’t sign older men and women. They have plenty of you and don’t need more.
The Solution: If an agent says, “they have too many of you,” you generally have to move on. The agent is nicely saying there is currently “no room” on the roster, and that very likely applies to the foreseeable future. Start looking at other agents!
2) The Problem: You are not conversational enough or sound too “announcery” — This mostly applies to successful radio or TV broadcasters who are trying to make the transition to commercial representation. In this case, there is a reason you sound that way… you have mastered the skills necessary toward working in TV and radio, and those unique skills are bleeding into your reads.
The Solution: This one is simple: You need to adapt to this new medium through coaching. Whether one-on-one sessions, voiceover workshops, or acting classes, you need to take the sheen you have been developing over your years of work, learn to roughen it up, and make it sound more natural. It will take some work, but there are plenty of professionals who can help.
3) The Problem: You are too new. Maybe someone told you that you have an interesting voice or perhaps you’re a young actor or actress emerging from Julliard. This does not mean you are ready to compete in voiceovers. Voice work is a combination of skill and life experience; you may not have enough of either yet.
The Solution: Focus on learning the craft. Discovering and correcting your flaws early on through coaching, workshops, and classes is especially helpful. You are going to struggle finding your sound, and it often helps to see peers struggling through the same process.
A final note to consider: The majority of successful voice actors were rejected by some agent somewhere. It’s part of the process, so don’t let it get you down. Put in the hard work, and prove you belong.