If you’ve worked in various fields and now you find yourself exploring voiceovers in your 50s or older, you may be wondering are you too old to be a voice talent. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. However, success in voiceovers may mean that you have to work a little differently than those under 50 to keep relevant. Getting and being competitive as a voice talent involves preparation and smart work…and is not age based.
Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite podcast, and one of the co-hosts mentioned that new voice talent often asks her how old is too old to be a voice talent. Hearing the question, I had an immediate response. You see, I spent over 20 years working in communication, and in the later years of my career, noticed a change in the way employees over 50 were perceived by younger workers and employers. Many times, I witnessed older workers being labeled as out of touch, over the hill, or archaic in their careers. The funny thing is that most of these same workers were performing at peak or better in their jobs. The assumption of one being obsolete was made strictly based on age. So, I understand why new talent over 50 would question whether there is an age maximum as a voiceover performer.
I’m here to say voice acting has NO age requirement. It’s all about effectively sounding and emoting a particular age group.
Realize that Age is Just a Number: Do you remember “Rocky the Squirrel”? June Foray was the iconic voice of Rocky from “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” June worked many years over her 50th birthday and had a total career span of 85 years. Now that’s what I call staying relevant.
What about the voice of the first Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer? Voice actor Billie Mae Richards performed Rudolph and other voices and was a working talent in 2004 at the age of 82, just six years before her death.
Solomon Hersh (best known as Paul) Frees started his acting career in 1942 and remained active for over forty years. Frees worked for major animation production companies including Walt Disney Studios, Walter Lantz Studios, UPA, Hanna-Barbera, MGM Studios, and Rankin/Bass. Paul worked well into his sixties. These actors worked into what some would call retirement years, but I call their best years.
Review your Bridges, Keep Some – Burn Some: It may be wise to decide which bridges to keep and which to burn. If you worked in a career or field for several years, some of these earlier associations could lead to future voiceover work. For instance, if you’ve worked in engineering or the medical field, you probably understand specific specializations not known to the average person. That knowledge and experience gives you a leg up as the perfect voice talent for jobs in your former career field. Let your colleagues know that you are a voice talent and available for related projects.
Use Old Profiles to Showcase Your New Business: Instead of combining your old social media professional profiles into your voiceover sites, consider rewording the information. Show how your former work makes you a perfect choice for similar voice projects. Let your voiceover profile stand alone, and let your old profiles link to your new information. This way you keep the same connections and alert them of your unique skill sets.
Embrace Technology (or hire your kids): Most working voice artists have professional home studios. Voice talents must learn about recording software and hardware, acoustics, and other related skills. Every day brings new technology into our mist, so this is indeed not an age thing. Learn what you have to through online classes, YouTube videos, LinkedIn or private coaching. It’s a necessary step, and you can do it. Just take it slow and master one new item at a time. Don’t try to learn everything at once. Master the majors like home recording (a software), editing, etc., and move on to other skills. If you have children or know of others with audio, web, or social media skills, ask them to help you or even hire them to do some of the work. You can also contract out the editing until you are comfortable with your new skill sets. Don’t let not knowing something keep you from getting what you need for running your business.
Embrace a Young Attitude: When you’re home behind a microphone, no one can see or care about how old you are, it’s all in the attitude. This is where your field work comes in. Look for opportunities to hang around younger people and listen and interact with them. Listen to the thoughts and ideas of young adults, Millennials, and Gen Xers. Note their tone, inflections, patterns, and attitude. Look for ways to add what you’ve heard and observed into your voiceover delivery. Experiment with speaking like someone much younger (or older) than yourself and review your performance. By noting the way people talk, how they expressed themselves and incorporated these attributes into your performance, you can keep current and sound almost any age you want. My cousin, who is at least 14 years older than me, has a youthful tone that reminds me of a 22-year-old and not her actual age of 60+ years.
Keep it Healthy and Moving: As we age our body and mind needs to keep engaged and healthy. Make sure to monitor your health. As we get older, sometimes we have to deal with mouth noises or diction problems. Make sure that you are taking time to go to the doctor and keeping up with proper dental care. Lastly, daily phonetic warmups can help with diction and word pronunciation.
Staying home is lovely, but it is even more critical for you to get out and move your body. Keeping it moving is whatever gets you moving. Walking is a great exercise. Don’t forget about weekend getaways. A change of scenery is also a great way to keep it moving and recharge your mind. Don’t take the fun out of your life, add a little voice acting to it.
Remember, as you age be timeless not timed. Break that lip!