Quora

How Do You Break Into Voice Acting?

Still of Rigby in 'Regular Show'.
Rigby, voiced by the author, in Regular Show.

Cartoon Network

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Answer by William Salyers, stage, camera, and voice actor living and working in Los Angeles:

My career was the result of preparation meeting a whole lot of luck. I had been an actor for decades, with occasional successes on the stage and on camera. Out of the blue, a friend asked me to come in and read for a cartoon he had pitched to Adult Swim. That was Moral Orel, and I wouldn’t have even been in the running for that job without his personal invitation. Voice-over is notoriously difficult to break into, moreso even than on-camera work. Animation is, within the world of VO, an even tougher nut to crack. I knew there was no way I was going to get cast as a series regular on an animated series, so I wasn’t remotely nervous, which is probably why I booked it. We went on to do three seasons with me in the role of Reverend Putty.

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My breakout job was voicing Rigby on Regular Show. When I got the audition, I didn’t know anyone on the project, and booking it was about as statistically probable as being struck by lightning. They tried not to hire me. Even after I did the pilot, when the show got picked up, they put my part back out to auditions. I had to win the role twice. I think that was due to the fact that I’d done relatively little of that kind of work.

Even getting a VO agent is a challenge. While I was actively working on Moral Orel, I met with agents at William Morris (before it was William Morris Endeavor). I told them, “Look, I’m on this show; no one has a piece of it. If you take me on, it’s an automatic 10 percent of something you didn’t even have to do for me.” They turned me down. Fortunately, Carolyn Lawrence, the lead actor on Moral Orel, offered to walk me into her agents at Imperium-7. They agreed to work with me, and I’ve been very happy with them.

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Since then, I’ve done a lot of work. Regular Show is on its eighth season. I’ve voiced many video games, guested on other animated series, and performed in animated features. I like to think this will be my work for the rest of my life.

But I never take it for granted.

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