VAM 004 | How I Broke Into Voice Acting, Part 1

VAM 004 | How I Broke Into Voice Acting, Part 1

Welcome to the fourth episode of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. Also, the show is now available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

This is the first of a 2 part episode series of episodes where I’ll be telling you in great detail how I broke into voice acting. There are 2 big reasons why I wanted to share this with you:

  1. I want you to hear how I approached voice acting so you can learn from my journey
  2. I want to give you a sense of my background so you can more effectively learn from me as teacher.

In the next episode, I’ll be diving into how I got started as a voice actor!

Thanks for listening!

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #4 Here (MP3)


31 Responses to “VAM 004 | How I Broke Into Voice Acting, Part 1”

  1. Maurice Cooper says:

    Hey Crispin,

    This episode gave me a big smile on my face because we actually have something in common because I too was very shy when I was young. During my years in elementary school, I was a very shy kid and I was always teased at. I never had a desire to be an actor or a voice actor for that matter. I always wanted to be meteorologist because I was just so fascinated with tornadoes at the time. I was reading everything from weather books, to watching tornado chasers on TV…this was something that I had my heart set on when I was a kid, until one faithful day.

    It was September 8, 1998, at 3:30pm, when Pokemon debuted on UPN, and I always loved anime, but for some odd reason, Pokemon got me hooked. It was about one week when I asked the question, “who does the voice of Ash Ketchum”? I always thought it was a kid or a young man who did the voice, but when I found out it was a woman, my brain freaking flipped out of my skull. I was so shocked that a woman was doing a voice of a 10 boy, I just wanted to know more about this voice acting thing.

    To make a very long story short, It was about Senior year in High School when I decided to get into acting, and at the age of 22 when I did my first performance on stage and my first voice over gig too. I have a strong desire now to be a voice over artist, and with your podcast, it feels like I’m going to achieve that goal so with that being said, I thank you for making such wonderful website, and I’ll do my best to share your podcast amongst other people who also have a strong desire to be voice actors as well.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Thank you for your wonderful comment Maurice! It’s funny because Pokemon was the first anime that I ever adapted scripts for. I’m glad our little show had such an effect on you.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast and that hearing some of my personal biography helps you.

  2. Kalyn McCabe says:

    I’m so glad that we have some things in common. I was super shy when I was in elementary and middle school. Kids teased me and my self esteem was shot for a few years. I would’ve NEVER thought of putting myself out there and being judged for what I was in the public eye. I always got the same response, “You’re not good enough.” or “You aren’t pretty enough.”

    But I did have a love of Japanese animation. The first show I ever watched was Sailor Moon (the DiC dub). I fell in love. The drama, the beautiful colors and transformation sequences, the stories, everything. I even bought the Sailor Moon broach and wand.

    Then there was Pokemon which came on at 3:30 everyday after school, I would watch it.

    Then after that was DBZ, and Yu-Gi-Oh! then there was a drought because there was only reruns of SM, DBZ, and YGO on. But I moved on to just American cartoons (Rugrats, Blues Clues, the like) and Disney channel stuff.

    Then came the lovely FUNimation dubs. I got hit by a truck when I found Full Metal Alchemist and Inuyasha. I started to memorize the voice actors’ names (Vic Mignogna was a rising star by this time). Then I wanted to voice act.


    I looked around on the internet for tips and tricks from FUNi workers and then basically learned everything to know about the industry. I just had to put that knowledge to the test. I came to a lovely site called the Voice Acting Alliance and signed up. Hestitantly at first, but I thought it was the best thing for me.

    4 years later and going strong. Amatuer still, but I am more happy now than I was 5 years ago. I now am majoring in theatre and minoring in film and have acted in 2 plays so far. (one a little non-speaking part and a kid’s show part)

    A bit long, but I am glad I found this industry (or it found me, whichever is fine) It’s given me my confidence back and I’m never going back.

    I can’t wait to hear what happened when you went to LA! Big, scary town I think!

    See you next podcast!

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Thank you Kalyn! I had a feeling there were many out there who would identify with being a shy kid when they were younger. I think it surprised everyone that I took to acting the way that I did. I was a computer nerd long before I became a theater geek.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast! I’m sure you’ll find my early LA adventures interesting!

      • Kimberly says:

        Hey Crispin,

        I think that it is so funny that you refer to yourself as a ‘computer nerd and theater geek’ that just cracked me up. I was like that when I was a kid too. I was never shy per say but I would rather be sitting in front of a computer than be onstage and I found the love of performing when I was in middle school. Once I got my fist role in a school play I was hooked.

  3. Hi Crispin!

    I have a kind of a question (kind of) because you mentioned attending Columbia. I remember it coming up in conversation once before because you were talking about taking a Suzuki class. At the time I just didn’t think to ask and now, even with the power of the Internet before me, I can’t determine whether or not you were at Columbia when Anne Bogart went to teach there. She’s founded SITI in 1992 with Tadeshi Suzuki and from what I can tell is still involved in its programs. Between then and now Bogart took her Viewpoints to Columbia, and SITI has also made a practice of taking Viewpoints and the Suzuki method to various colleges.

    My interest comes from an investigation of these acting methods (for lack of a better term) at my theatre company, Son of Semele Ensemble. Thus I’m idly wondering what your experiences with them have been.

    Largely a curiosity, I can’t seem to bring this around to relating directly to voice acting.

    But thanks again for the pod – and yeah, Gene Kelly! My favorite is The Three Musketeers. I bet you can guess my favorite character. Later on!

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Yes. I worked extensively with Anne Bogart, her SITI Company and I even did a master class with Suzuki’s company from Togamura in Japan. I was sort of known in my class at grad school as “Suzuki Boy.” I also did a lot of work with Anne’s viewpoint system. I worked with her on a number of shows and was very steeped in that tradition of experimental theater.

      I’m happy to talk to you about the whole Suzuki thing in class in LA if you’d like. It has both its plusses and its minuses, especially when it comes to vocal production.

      Glad you’re enjoying the podcast!

      • I would love to talk about it more! No idea which of the next classes I’ll be able to make but the incentive just jumped several degrees.

        Son of Semele has a distinctly experimentalist approach and even though I’m not there as an actor (mainly dramaturgy and stage managing) I found the Viewpoints exercises we all do to be quite eye-opening, so to speak. It would be terrific to learn any application to vocal work!

  4. Stephen Hamby says:

    I want to thank you so much for doing these and apologize for a slightly unrelated question.

    I heard a rumor that more Hellsing Ultimate would finally be made. I just wanted to know if it was true, and if they are wise enough to include the original voice acting cast again. I am not sure what all the delays are for, but in this economy one can assume the worst.

    That question led me to another that is related. What is it like when one voice actor has to step in for another when doing a fairly well known, and liked role. A friend of mine complains a lot when video games are released and the voices are different. After a little research though, some he thought were different are the same people. Then it hit me, it’s been 10 or so years since they voiced the original anime. I guess an aging voice also can effect a voice actor when asked to do the same character again.

    Again, I thank you for all the work you have done and for these classes. I know these will help a lot of people, and for those it doesn’t help, just hearing more about you is nice to.

    Take care and good Luck

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast!

      As far as your Hellsing question, unfortunately it is off topic. I’d like to keep this blog focused on issues related to voice acting and not on release dates or other more fan related topics. But my answer has been the same for years now. I don’t know anything about Hellsing Ultimate continuing. Actors are the last to know. You guys will know before I do via press releases and what not.

      Now as far as stepping in to take over a role that another voice actors has played, that can be tricky. You’re dealing with changing the audience’s expectation of what the character should sound like. I’ve had to do that at least twice, once on Slayers and once on Ghost in the Shell. In both instances, I had to just play the character to the best of my ability and ignore whatever came before me.

      I also do celebrity voice matching where I need to sound exactly like the person I’m portraying, but that’s a topic for a different podcast!

      • Stephen Hamby says:

        Sorry for going “off topic” and thank you for the response. No matter what happens it will be your voice I hear when I read the manga. I look forward to the future podcasts.

  5. Angelican says:

    Hello Mr. Freeman I was exhilarated about this podcast you made and we have so much in common I too was teased as a child in elementary and when I went to middle school the same antics and I hope they won’t do the exact samething again when I reach high school I want to surpass their intellect with mine to have enough focus on my future career as a artist to be creative with my words, my drawings, and my literature. Myself has had ups and downs I can also relate to your story I too had a inspiration my dearest friend Sammantha me and her have somethings in common as well but hers was more complicated she was the one who inspired me to draw anime and manga and my other inspiration twas the person who gave me confidence was you Mr. Freeman about learning so much of your history and hearing these podcasts made me learn so much about voice acting I am happy to listen many of your podcasts in the near future and probably when I become voice actress or meet you at a convention I would give a friendly gesture of shaking your hand and saying greetings to you for the first time and I thank you
    Angelican Von Marcos <3

  6. Dustin White says:

    Hello Mr. Freeman,

    A friend of mine just told me about this podcast of yours and so far I am loving every minute of it! I didn’t really get into acting until my sophomore year of high school, despite having been in small productions at churches and such. I joined my high school’s drama club at the insistence of my theatre teacher and ended up playing the roll of Sir Wilfred in Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution”. Now, I had no idea who this guy was but was shocked and scared out of my mind when I saw the page long monologues and court jargon filled speeches. I worked hard and spent long hours getting everything memorized and perfected, and lucky for me everything went off without a hitch. It was shortly after this experience that I realized this is what I wanted to do with my life. Now I too had never thought of voice acting as a potential avenue, my eyes were on the stage, despite my love for animation. The years went by and tried out for all kinds of plays at my high school and eventually to local community theatres after graduation. There came a point in my life when I was getting a little hard on myself because I wasn’t really getting the parts that I really wanted in shows and I would get really tough on myself about how I should have tried harder or that maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. It suddenly hit me that it was a little more complicated than that. In theatre, ability is a huge part of the casting process, and while it is the most important part, it isn’t necessarily the only factor. The parts that I was really wanting to play were just not right for me. Oh sure maybe I could perform it well enough, but I was forgetting the visual aspect of theatre as well. Sometimes the right person not only has to act the part, but look it as well. I started looking back and realizing that for me, being rather tall and broad, just didn’t look right for certain characters on stage. Now sure this isn’t true for all characters in every play but it really opened my eyes to how physically limiting stage theatre is. That is what I find so fascinating about voice acting. You can really play anyone or anything as long as you have the ability to pull it off. I am loving the podcast and I look forward to hearing what you have in store for the future.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your story! And you’re right, it’s important to know how to cast yourself, even in voice acting! I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast so much.

  7. Caitlin says:

    Thank you Crispin! Voice acting wasn’t exactly something I considered until a few years ago because I thought it was impossible for me. Though I am no stranger to the stage, I still did have a shyness to me. I thought that you needed to have a lot of money to get into it and I grew up in a pretty poor family so I thought that was out for me. I also (unfortunately) had a few teachers in elementary school who weren’t exactly the best and told me I needed to be realistic and choose a job I will actually achieve, so that kind of crushed it. I actually was into anime when I was very young child (and of course Disney films) and that was when I loved the idea of being a voice actor, but I had a sister who was seven years older than me and hated having a little girl hanging around her everywhere so she told me I would never get anywhere in the world unless I grew up and “unleash all these childhood dreams that were never going to happen because only special people got that kind of stuff.” (Don’t worry, she’s not that way anymore. She did a lot of growing up herself!) Seeing my sister as my idol, this crushed me and I thought she was write. I saw Disney films and anime as cartoons and in my mind cartoons were for children and I stopped it altogether. I got back into anime around the time I had my first boyfriend and it was also at this time I re-realized how I would love to be a voice actor. But unfortunately my ex was not… a supportive person. He was very manipulative and verbally abusive and told me a voice actor was stupid and only immature people did that because they voiced for “shows for toddlers” and I should stop thinking about being anything that I had in mind because with my experience and talent the best I would do is working in retail for the rest of my life… he pretty much told me in a lot of colorful ways I needed to stop acting like a child and act my age (my age being 16 at this point) because no one would ever take me seriously. (Another thing he attacked was my writing which I hold very dear to me, and since he said I wrote fantasy, especially since there was no sex in it, no one would every buy my stuff. This was also a dream crusher.) I convinced myself he was only saying this because he loved me and cared about me and said that i should change for him because I that’s what people do (I just laughed at that sentence. I was stupid!) secretly though, I still watched anime and still held onto those dreams. I just couldn’t tell anyone about them. It was actually when I met you at Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits and everyone else in 2009 that dreams sort of showed again and that was the last time I ever had anyone shut me up and crush my dreams, because I realized I wasn’t alone. However, recently in November, nothing that i loved seemed desirable anymore because my dad died in November and I pretty much just gave up on everything because nothing seemed to matter anymore. Basically, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but listening to your podcasts just made me realize that despite the negativity you may come across you can still become what you want to do! It also relit that fire in me for voice acting!

    P.S. (Sorry if I rambled, I am also an aspiring writer. It’s hard for me to keep things short. Hence why I can’t use Twitter!!!)

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      You should absolutely “unleash” your childhood dreams, and by that I mean you should let them run free and allow them to grow and thrive! You can’t really un-want anything. If you want to do something, no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you don’t want it, you still do. If there’s something you want to do, you have to at least try it. I’m all for following your childhood dreams and doing so responsibly. You should follow your passion with open eyes, a sharp mind and lots of knowledge and savvy. That’s what I’m trying to do with this podcast, to encourage others to follow what they want with lots of candid and useful advice. I’m glad your enjoying the podcast and I wish you the best in your voice acting endeavors!

  8. Meg says:

    Hi Crispin 🙂
    I’m really enjoy those podcasts, especially about your story before you became a voice actor. I felt the same thing, because I am extremely shy girl in school decades. When I was little, I used to be in some chorus and play classes. At age 10, I refused to go on the stages, dancing in the crowd, and front of the people. At high school, I showed some classmates that I got a nice voice when I was singing. I didn’t sing that much, depends what songs its really suit for me.
    Thank you very much for sharing the podcasts and your stories 🙂

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      So sorry for the delayed response. I was away all last week at the Burning Man Festival.

      You’re very welcome. I’m glad the stories are helping you! Take care!

  9. Ashlee says:

    Hi Crispin,

    I’m actually doing a career essay about what I would like to do for a career (and for self-purposes), and voice-acting seems very interesting and, dare I say, fun! But I have a question that has, in a way, been bugging me and constantly on my mind for a while.

    I’ve been around Google, and I’ve noticed that there aren’t many Voice Acting Schools, or collages to be a bit more precise. Basically, the kinds where you would need tuition and you spend a majority of at least 3-4 years there. Which is understandable really! But it confuses me a little.

    Necessarily, would that mean one would have to go to an actual school/collage/university ect ect, that might offer something close to voice acting? Or any kind for that matter? Or just go to a good (and affordable) school for acting, theater, performing arts, then go take classes that would be available near you? (Like your classes for example)

    I appreciate it if you answer it 🙂 Oh and I’m like you when you where younger. I’m shy and prefer to be alone and read, play Solitaire, be on my computer, and hate talking in public. I’d love to break out of my shell by a long shot. Of course, I’m 14 and in 8th grade going onto high school, which doesn’t help with society, school wise to be specific. I’ve actually been practicing with my friends with training my voice for different emotions so far. (Also reading out loud to myself to act like the people from the story!)

    I’ll continue listening to your wonderful podcasts! They’re all on my iPod from iTunes and I’ve been listening to them after school when I walk home! Can’t wait for more! 😀

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the podcast!

      As far as your question, there isn’t really a school for voice acting because historically voice acting has been a very niche career. Usually voice actors found their way to their vocation through theater acting or radio work. Also western-style schools have traditionally been about preparing you for left-brain types of careers like being a doctor, lawyer or banker. The idea of a school to train your artistry is a relatively new concept to the liberal arts paradigm and many liberal arts colleges still resist it. That’s why there’s a difference between getting a Bachelor of Arts degree (or B.A.) which is your standard college degree and getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (B.F.A.) which is your standard art school degree.

      My entire journey towards becoming a voice actor happened after I left school. I did not go to voice acting school, I went to acting school. But there are very successful voice actors who never went to school for acting, like Steve Blum. He learned his skills outside of a school setting. School is no guarantee of success in an artistic field. Only your own artistry and craft will get you success in an artistic field.

      So if you find a school that appeals to you that will teach you good acting skills, then I would say that sounds great. If you then need to supplement that with classes taught by voice acting professionals, that is also advisable. I’ve taken acting classes both in school environments and outside school environments. Both have their plusses and minuses. I’ve learned a lot from both experiences.

      Reading aloud, especially to others, is a great way to practice your cold reading skills. Having to sit down and read someone else a story and keep their attention is a great test of your voice acting abilities.

      Hope that all helps.

  10. Leonard says:

    Hello Crispin.

    I found what you said about Joseph Campbell very intriguing and something I can relate to because not only am I interested in stories and acting, but also psychology. Campbell was influenced by Freud & Jung who studies psychology through dreams, especially the archetypes that I find very fascinating as well. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      You’re very welcome. Joseph Campbell’s work on mythology also greatly influenced my own scholarship which I share on my other website: Mythology and Meaning. You might enjoy that as well.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      It’s true, Campbell was extremely influenced by Freud, but especially by Jung. In fact, he edited the compilation book known as the Portable Jung. If you enjoy Campbell, you might enjoy my Mythology and Meaning website where I share some of my own scholarship on mythology and storytelling.

      • Leonard says:

        I have actually looked at your Mythology & Meaning website before, I like it & if given the opportunity would love to attend one of your seminars on the topic. It’s funny you mention it too though, before I studied Carl Jung & Sigmund Freud I thought you meant Mythology as in Greek or Egyptian mythologys and thus when I came to your site, I was a little surprised that it wasn’t quite that but I still found the site very fascinating nonetheless.

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          I’m glad you found the site interesting. For me mythology is the storytelling aspect of religion. In my scholarship I focus on how those religious stories affect pop culture storytelling. Joseph Campbell, probably the most famous writer on comparative mythologies, was intimately familiar with both Freud and Jung’s work and actually edited the Portable Jung edition.

  11. Ron says:

    This may be a stupid and rather negative question, but is it ever too late to get into acting if you want to become a successful voice actor?

    I ask this because you seem to have started off when you were pretty young. I don’t know the specifics, but I’m guessing you starred as an extra in operas under the age of 12 or so. You had a passion for acting from an early age, upon witnessing what goes on behind the scenes, and you worked hard to join the choir, theater and dancing group, choose a suitable college to further hone your skills… you even had someone who inspired you.

    I’ve read through the stories of some other successful voice actors, and it’s mostly things like: “got the lead role in a musical at the age of 13” or “excelled in drama at school” etc.

    It seems that anyone who’s ever become successful at anything already had a passion for it at an early age.

    I’m currently 15 years old, and all the experience I’ve got is having a sort of background role in one musical at my current school, joining and leaving the choir every now and then, and about 3 hours in total of singing lessons.

    My situation, the person I am, might not be suitable for the business because I probably haven’t ever been as passionate as you are. To become successful you need the passion and desire. I have little of both of those things, due to some temporary problems with my mental health. I basically haven’t felt enthusiasm or hope for any sort of career path until I found voice acting.

    I have passion and desire for voice acting, and it is the only thing I have passion and desire for, but it’s not enough. All I’ve done for it so far is put a lot of time into research on the internet, gathering tips and such, and getting the singing lessons to improve my voice’s range and control.
    Being shy myself, I became interested in voice acting after discovering all the work put into the cartoons I used to always watch because I was a loner, and found some sort of escape in these fantasy worlds. The idea of being able to take part in the production of these shows sound amazing.

    And the same goes for video games. I love the range of different textures, accents and pitches to the voices in my favourite games. And there’s one character in one of these games, who I really like. He’s able to impersonate all of the other characters in the game, and his voice actor also had to pretend to be him (badly) pretending to be someone else. It’s fascinating.

    I’m not saying I have talent, but what’s driven me to believe in myself enough to pursue a vouce acting career is this: People say I’m good at impersonations. Family, friends, people whose names I don’t even know as well. I was invited to the musical and choir at my school upon inviting students to join the debate club in an assembly. Teachers said I had a “singing voice”, although I’m not sure how they could tell.
    In English, German, and philosophy lessons people seemed to really enjoy those pretend-conversations you often have to read out of a textbook or make up. The ones where you get feedback at the end. They’d say it was really “believable”.

    It feels like an unrealistic fantasy though, the distant dream of becoming a successful voice actor.
    My questions (apparently now more than one) are: Is it ever too late to start? Are some people just born into the right circumstances? And what should I do now if I want to make this dream a reality?

    Maybe all I need is a bit of positive thinking, but I thought I’d ask anyway. Thank you for taking the time to read.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      No, it is never too late to get into voice acting if it’s truly what you want to do. The voice acting world needs all types of voices, not just young ones.

      Yes, I started when I was young, but there are others who have started much later in life (such as my good friend Steve Blum) and have found their own path to success.

      However, you are only 15 years old. You are still ridiculously young. I expected when you started asking me this question that you were at least 30 if not older.

      If you are deciding to pursue voice acting now, you are starting at an incredibly early age.

      You say you have a passion for voice acting, but then you say you don’t have enough passion. You’re contradicting yourself and so I don’t understand what you’re saying.

      If you’d like to pursue voice acting, pursue voice acting. Hopefully this podcast can help. What you should do to make your dream a reality is to listen to this podcast, every episode and internalize the lessons. Then you’ll have a much clearer idea of what action to take next.

      • Ron says:

        Thank you Crispin, you answered all my questions.

        Yes, I was contradicting myself. At the time I was in a bit of a lethargic state and it dulled my enthusiasm. Guess that’s what I meant to say. Sorry about that.

        Haha, yeah it does sound a bit stupid to me now. Of course I’m pretty young compared to most of the commenters here and should consider myself lucky to have stumbled all the material you’re sharing for free with so many people, and at an early age.

        Your podcast has been extremely helpful. You have all the advice I’ve ever needed, and I also love getting to hear all the different voices in your interviews and seeing what they have to say as well. The career sounds pretty exciting.

        Thank you for the opportunity. I’ll continue to listen and I’ll try my best.

  12. Thomas Stoner says:

    I find it pretty amusing that you did not let people put you down, especially at high school in the 80s, which sounds nightmarish in comparison to now. Even when I was in drama club, I still felt like I wasn’t good enough mostly because I was typecasted as a creepy old man. However, after listening to your podcast, I can look back and say “Wow, I was pretty good creepy old guy. Nobody could do it better than me. I do have some talent!” I just can’t believe I never realized until two years after graduating high school. Thank you, Crispin!


  1. VAM 005 | How I Broke Into Voice Acting, Part 2 | Voice Acting Mastery: Become a Master Voice Actor in the World of Voice Over - [...] Voice Acting Mastery, Episode #4 [...]
  2. Interview With Voice Actor and Mocap Performer, Crispin Freeman « VG Tribune - [...] You can hear the story at length by listening to my Voice Acting Mastery podcast at Voice Acting…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: