VAM 058 | Q & A Session 09 – Expanding Your Character Types and Auditioning for Schools

VAM 058 | Q & A Session 09 – Expanding Your Character Types & Auditioning for Schools

Welcome to episode 58 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. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

In this episode, I continue answering questions from my podcast audience! For those who may not be as familiar with the podcast, in past episodes, I’ve given out a phone number where you can call in and leave me a question about voice acting as a voicemail. From time to time, I’ll pick the most relevant questions I receive and answer them here on the podcast.

For this round of Q & A, I answer questions from Matt from Duluth, MN and Felocity from Tampa, FL.

Matt wants to know what he can do to expand his character types once he’s found his signature sound.

In both this podcast and in my classes with my students I stress over and over again how important it is to know which characters suit your voice the best. I call this your character type. If you want to work as a professional voice actor, you need to know which characters you can play better than anyone else. If you don’t know your character type, you will most likely be fighting an uphill battle trying to get cast as a voice actor. Episode 26 of the podcast is entitled: Discovering Your Character Types. For those of you who haven’t heard it already, I suggest you give it a listen.

There are two aspects to understanding how to expand your range to allow you to play different characters believably:

  1. The Technical Aspect
  2. The Emotional Aspect

The technical side is the actual physical adjustments you need to make to your voice to create a character’s sound. But the emotional side of a character voice requires you to understand the psychological basis of a character. That emotional aspect of a character can often be far harder to master than the technical side. I discuss this in depth in the podcast.

Felocity wants to know why certain acting schools ask their prospective students to audition even before they attend the school. This seems backwards to her since how can one know if one is talented at acting if you aren’t able to take an acting class first?

I explain that there are plenty of voice acting classes that do not require you to audition, including the classes that I offer both in LA and Online.

However, I also address this issue of “talent” and how I think the notion of talent is not only overrated, but misleading. Talent is not the determining factor in having a successful voice acting career. Fascination is the key to success in any art form. If you are truly fascinated with a craft like voice acting, you will do whatever it takes to get better.

I explain the difference between talent and fascination and how I overcame my own lack of talent in the podcast!


I hope you find the answers useful in your own voice acting endeavors!


As a reminder, the number where you can call in and ask your question is:


Please don’t forget to include your first name and what city in the world you’re calling from. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for listening!

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #58 Here (MP3)


32 Responses to “VAM 058 | Q & A Session 09 – Expanding Your Character Types and Auditioning for Schools”

  1. Nick says:

    Now I really want to see the video proof of your “terrible acting” ha ha. Awesome podcast, as always.

  2. Eric Rivera says:

    I always sorta figured that. First I gotta master what my normal speaking voice can do before expanding into different character voices. The few “out there” character voices is a growling monster and what sounds like Ray Park as Rugal from that terrible King of Fighters movie.

    Thank you for your time and wisdom.

  3. Kalyn McCabe says:

    I think Daffy Duck is a girl, not a boy. Donald is the male. Unless you were referencing a non-Disney Daffy Duck. =/ Just makin’ sure.

    Love the episode! Number 60 is coming up~! Hope its something good! but it’s always good, regardless!

    Much love,
    ~ Kalyn

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      There is no Disney Daffy Duck. Daffy is a Warner Brother’s character. I believe you’re thinking of Daisy Duck who is in fact a girl and a Disney character.

      Glad you’re enjoying the podcast. We’ll have to see what comes up for episode 60.

    • Kalyn McCabe says:

      *looks up the Daffy Duck stuff* Oh. Looney Tunes. *is sheepish* I stand corrected. It’s not Disney, though. And it’s Daisy Duck.

      … Carry on.

      • Crispin Freeman says:

        I never said Daffy was a Disney character. In fact I mentioned the different directors who shaped Daffy’s character including Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. None of them were Walt.

        • Kalyn McCabe says:

          I understand. My brain went to Disney when you said “Daffy Duck” because I’m more familiar with Disney than Looney Toons. I’m sorry for the mix-up.

  4. Eric Rivera says:

    Question! When I practice, should I have the microphone playback ON so I can hear myself as I am speaking, or should I have it OFF and just play back my recording afterwards?

    • Kalyn McCabe says:

      In my experience, it really depends. With the immediate feedback through headphones, you can correct mistakes on the fly (ie Slurred words, mispronouncing a word, inflections, ect) but in other cases, I listen to it played back. It really is just personal preference.

      • Crispin Freeman says:

        It is true. It is personal preference. Some people must have their headphones, others would rather never wear them. I live in between with my one-ear approach. That’s what I have to do to do ADR work because I need to hear the track while I’m recording, but for animation and video games, you don’t have to wear headphones.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you saying should you listen to your recording over headphones while you’re speaking? I would say yes, but I usually wear a headphone over one ear and leave my second ear uncovered so I can hear myself in the room as well. That way I can hear my recording with one ear and keep myself present in the room with the other. I don’t wear my headphones over both ears because that can lead to playing to the microphone instead of just playing the character. Some directors prefer you not to use headphones at all while recording to avoid getting self-conscious of your “sound”.

  5. Matthew says:

    This isn’t really a question about voice acting. But your LA classes offer a specific area of voice over for people to practice on. Are the online classes a combination of what you can teach online or is it something different? I ask this because I am considering on taking a class. But I’m not sure if I want to fly into LA to take a class on a weekend or just take online classes from home.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      The online class focuses on portraying characters closer to what you find in an audition situation. I chose characters for you to work on, you prepare one for class before it starts and then you work one-on-one with me as I coach you through your performance. You do multiple takes as that character and then I give you a second character to work on with much less preparation time, just like a real audition where they might have you read for a character you weren’t expecting.

      I hope that gives you some better idea of how the class operates.

      • Matthew says:

        It does. It’s actually more exciting to know what goes on in the online classroom. Another question that was pondering in my head was you mentioned humming is a good way to warm up your vocal cords. Are there any other methods that you use?

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          I also vocalize scales like I was warming up for singing. I also like chanting a long “ah” sound to get my voice relaxed and more resonant. I also do breathing exercises to get my breathing muscles ready to work.

  6. Meghan (Meg) says:

    Hi Crispin, how are you? I wanted to ask you about the audition, and the interview before having a good job/career- I’m feeling extremely insecure about my language and also my voice. First, I speak very quiet and soft which some people couldn’t understand or hear, especially in the loud crowd. Second, I have trouble speaking in public when I’m nervous or I wasn’t really prepared to saying a perfect language to other people. I may be like my voice sometimes, but sometimes I don’t like my voice at all. My biggest fear is that people will walk away from me if I say something weird or someone will think I sound’dumb’ or I’m ‘retarded’ and no one wants to be around with me 🙁 Is it possible to fixed a voice and vocal cords that didn’t sounds right like get a surgery or just the warm up voices will help a natural voice better?

    • Nicendeth says:

      Nerves are the worst… I pretty much have a tiny reaction whenever I hear my own voice, haha. The best cure to this is simply to get used to how you sound in a recording. Have fun trying different ways to use it; the more you listen to it, the more you’ll want to have a way to distinguish your different tones. Getting surgery done on your voice is highly unnecessary unless your vocal chords are badly damaged. And yes, stick with the warm-ups, they are practically 90% of winning the battle of voice quality. I sound like I just woke up, otherwise. Just remember to be confident and have fun most of all!

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m sorry you feel so insecure about your voice. I suggest you re-listen to episode 9 of the podcast, Building Confidence. There is no surgery to improve your confidence. That is an emotional challenge that you must conquer. I myself was a very shy and awkward boy and had to learn how to deal with people in social situations. My acting training, especially in theater, helped me considerably in that regard. No matter what method you use, however, you can only overcome your shyness with your own effort to think and feel differently about your situation. Surgery will have no effect.

      You need to pursue whatever remedy you think might help you. If that means professional counseling then by all means seek professional assistance.

  7. Benjamin Moore says:

    Hi Crispin! I’ve sent you email’s before quite sometime ago, I really appreciate the insight you gave me.

    I have another question I need to pose to you, because out of all the voice artists I know, you would be most thorough with and thoughtful with the reply.

    I’m having an issue (and always have) with the musicality of my voice, I’m currently taking lessons with a commercial coach, and I read in such a way that i need to constantly be corrected. I emphasize words that shouldn’t and will often not emphasize words that should be, I do this with out really being aware of it. I seem to unluckily not have a natural ear for the way a line should be read. I listen commercials and read daily. Is there something that I can do to correct my mindset, or physically do so that I can read in a way that will sound natural and smooth?

    • Benjamin Moore says:

      I would also like to enclose some additional details, that I do do not have any musicality abnormalities with my day-to-day speech, it’s just reading copy. I also have the very occasional accent swing being from Alaska. Thanks again!

      • Crispin Freeman says:

        It may be that you go into a certain “mindset” when you have to read someone else’s words that you would never enter if you were able to use your own words.

        One of the greatest skills of an actor is to take someone else’s words and make them sound like your own. The only way I know to work on that with you is actually in class, which you’re welcome to take.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      You pose a very challenging question Benjamin. While there is no objective way the english language should be spoken, there are customs and patterns to the way people speak english nowadays. When you’re auditioning for commercials, more often than not, they want your read to sound as conversational and natural as possible. They do not want your delivery to sound presentational or self-conscious.

      Often, commercial voice over coaches advise their students to talk as if they’re talking to a close friend in order to make their reads sound more colloquial. The challenge is, what if the way you have chosen to speak because of your upbringing isn’t what passes for colloquial? In that case, you’ve got to learn how to speak like average people.

      I can’t know without actually having you in class what type of speech pattern you might have and what your coach means when he or she says that you’re emphasizing the wrong words. My best advice would be to voice match other successful voice over performers. Don’t just read the same copy, actually try to voice match their performances. It will teach you a lot about your own speech patterns.

  8. Chasity Conner says:

    This was a really good podcast episode. I am still in the process of finding my different voice types and as practice I try to imitate characters from my favorite anime shows whether they are male or female. I know I have a long way to go but I hope to find various voice types that I can master. As always thank younger the podcasts and your advice.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I would suggest that you imitate characters from animation other than anime. Imitating American animated characters can greatly increase your range.

      • Chasity says:

        Oh, yes, I almost forgot about that. What I am trying to work on are high cute voices that are on some American animations such as the characters portrayed by Tara Strong. I am not sure if you have mentioned this in one of your podcasts but how can I maintain my voice for high pitched voices without hurting my throat? Any good exercises to help with it?

        Thank you for your time!

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          The best exercises I know for expanding your range without hurting yourself is classical singing technique. Learning how to sing classical music and legit broadway songs has helped me immensely in expanding my vocal range and making sure I do it in such a way that my voice is properly supported with good breath control so I don’t strain or hurt my voice.

          I would suggest finding someone who can teach you classical, legit singing technique.

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