Picture This. Or Not.

There has been a debate over on the Yahoo! Voice-over forum on whether or not the voice actor should include a headshot with or on the demo packaging or other voiceover marketing materials.

Let’s be clear. Most actors have headshots and video demos for their on-camera careers.  The question at hand is about including a photo with your voice-over demo or your on-line profile.

My opinion? Only if your voice and your face are a most excellent match.  If you look the way you sound.  And local actors come to mind that illustrate the point. The late Harlan Jordan and John B. Wells.

Harlan was known for his “country boy” sound. The first time I met him was in a session where I played a banker and Harlan read the rancher role for a radio spot.  He was running late and the rest of us were hanging around the studio making small talk while we waited.

Finally the door flies open and in walks a big ‘ole boy who looked like he’d ridden to the studio in the back of a hay truck. He had on dusty overalls and a big straw hat.  Harlan stepped up to the mic with a voice and a read that sounded like Larry the Cable Guy’s dad.  A most excellent match.

On the other hand, we have John B. Wells. Those of you who know his work would agree that “deep” doesn’t begin to describe his voice. It’s about as low has a human voice can go and still be audible. It’s in the same category as the late Don La Fontaine, the kind of voice that can blister paint.

But John is relatively young and sports a handsome yet boyish face.  One of his former agents told me he studied theater in college and really wanted to have a film career.  However, he was told over and over again at film auditions that his voice just overpowered his “look” and to come back in , oh,  20 or 30 years, when he resembled the Sam Shepherd he sounded like.  Not a match.

So if you really really look like your voice (Harlan), then maybe include a photo. Otherwise don’t.

2 thoughts on “Picture This. Or Not.

  1. Voiceovers by Gregory Houser

    Bill,

    good post but there’s a small, yet important thing you’re forgetting – a lot of agents won’t talk to you unless you have a headshot.

    Casting agencies that specialize in voice over aren’t too bad, but in some markets those don’t exist and VO is lumped in with everything else. In situations like that, you’ll find that you need a headshot like everyone else (along with your demo). Seems that they just lump everyone together and let the staff sort them out.

    IMO it’s one of those things which you need, because it’s asked for on occasion, but you won’t actually use very often.

    Cheers!

    -Greg

    http://www.gregoryhouser.com
    gregoryhouser.blogspot.com

  2. Bill Post author

    I think the headshot thing varies depending on the agent and the market. One of my agents has this policy: If you do on-camera and have a headshot, fine. But if you don’t do voice over and do not have a competitive demo, you are not getting signed. For her niche, on-camera is secondary.
    Best regards!
    Bill

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