Hi I’m Sarah (they/them), and I’ve been a Voice Actor for 8 years. I specialise in Video Game and Narration roles, but I do just about every area of Voice Acting. I record from my home studio up in the North of England with my Wife and fellow Voice Actor, Elizabeth
1. What inspired you to become a voice actor?
I think it first started with a behind-the-scenes video from Avatar (TV show). All the voice actors from the show went into detail about the whole process, and little teenage Sarah was just in awe of how amazing it all seemed. They were all so passionate about their roles and I had never expected to see how physical they all were while they were acting, and how it translated to their performances. It wasn’t until many years later (when I was 20), that I realized I could do it remotely, and I didn’t have to live in London, Texas, or L.A. to do what I do!
2. Can you describe your process for preparing for a voice acting role?
Warm-ups! I can’t stress how important that is. So first of all, I always record in the morning if I can. That’s the time of day when your voice is in the best condition. I have a drink of water, warm up for a good 15 minutes or so. Then I hop into my vocal booth, refresh myself on what I need to do, get up the script, and record! I get all my recording for the day done in one go, then I spend the rest of the day editing at my leisure. If a character has a specific voice though, I have to listen to a few clips of them just before I record to keep it consistent and fresh!
3. What has been your biggest challenge as a voice actor and how have you overcome it?
Working remotely and sound treating my recording space. Pre-covid, it was harder to come by ‘bigger roles’ but when everyone suddenly switched to remote and online work, someone who had been doing this a while online was looking like a good choice over the influx of stage actors moving over to Voice Over. Secondly, sound treating my room. At the time, I thought the sound quality was good, but oh how wrong I was. It took a while to treat my recording space to eliminate the echo / reverberations, but I managed eventually. Now I’ve taken it a step further and we even have our own vocal booth!
4. Can you tell us about a particularly memorable project you’ve worked on and why it stands out to you?
Oh wow, there’s a lot of amazing ones to choose from. But I might have to go with Burnhouse Lane, by Harvester Games. I only had a few lines in that, but my wife voiced the main character, Angie. She had over 10,000 lines, and I was working as her editor, so it was really surreal when we had handed in the last script. It just felt like the end of an era.
5. How do you handle the pressure of performing in front of a microphone?
Honestly, I don’t really feel any pressure, unless it’s just before a live directed session. But once you’re in the booth, you get behind the mic and start recording, you’re not ‘you’ anymore. You’re just completely in the moment, and it’s like flipping a switch. It’s like a special kind of zone, and there’s nothing else that exists except the scene and the words coming out of your mouth.
6. Can you share any advice for aspiring voice actors just starting out in the industry?
It doesn’t matter if your mic is a USB or XLR to start off with, but you need to do your best to sound treat your room. Even if it’s a blanket fort while you record. You could have the best, most expensive mic in the world, but it will sound awful in an echoey room. Also another equally important point, make sure you can act. You could have the nicest voice in the world, but if you can’t act or your reading doesn’t flow well, it’s not looking good. But nobody is amazing at acting and accents right away, we all had to practice and learn for years to get where we are. It’s okay if you don’t get it overnight, keep it up! Oh and if you’re wanting to do this as paid work, then check out the GVAA and Indie rates guides (linked below). These are comprehensive guides for industry standard and indie rates used globally.
7. Can you tell us about a time when you had to adapt to a new character or voice?
When I had to voice an old lady! I used to put on old lady voices a lot for fun when I was younger, and who would have guessed I’d get paid to do it later on in life?
8. How do you stay motivated and engaged during long recording sessions?
Typically, I don’t record more than 5000 words in one day, it’d put too much strain on your voice in the long run. So my actual recording sessions are usually limited to 2 hours in a day, which is a long time. Some studio sessions can last up to 4 hours, but they should allow short breaks as necessary. If you feel your voice starting to go, or it feels strained. Stop, drink water and take a breather.
9. Can you tell us about an experience you had while working on a project where you had to improvise or come up with an unexpected solution?
I can’t particularly think of one for a project, but last September I was taking a Video Game Voice Acting and Motion Capture course down in London, with Neil Newbon (Resident Evil 8) and Josh Wichard (Baldur’s Gate 3), and they kept taking us out of our comfort zone and essentially made us act as monsters / characters we’d quite likely struggle with. Which was both terrifying and immensely fun! I’m typically cast in roles of Elves, Queens, and Noble Women, so physically playing this huge Minotaur was certainly an experience to remember!
10. Can you share a funny or interesting story from your time as a voice actor?
Oh boy, so most clients are absolutely lovely, and I’m delighted to work with them. But sometimes, you get clients who are very picky and don’t know how to give direction. So this client had sent a script, absolutely riddled with spelling errors and it was a grammatical nightmare. So I though I’d go the extra mile and fix up some of the spelling errors. There was this character called ‘Bobby’, and throughout most of the script, it’s Bobby. But on one line, it was spelled ‘Booby’. But this client was enraged when I corrected it to ‘Bobby’, and demanded that I say the whole script as is, spelling mistakes and all. This wasn’t even a joke script, this was all very serious. So occasionally I joke to my wife, ‘Hello, Booby?’, in reference to this one bad job.
11. Can you share your favorite voice acting moment or performance?
Oo! So I play the lead woman in an animated film that’s coming out soon called ‘The Threshold’, and there was a very emotional scene in that where my character is crying and screaming out, and I just really felt the whole raw power behind it. Probably one of my best performances yet!
12. Can you tell us about a voice acting project you turned down and why?
There’s a lot of… ahem… bad NSFW scripts out there. I’m not bashing NSFW voice acting, I’ve done my fair share for games and films over the years. But there are a LOT of bad scripts out there. Most of the ones I’ve been sent are illegible.
13. How do you keep your voice in good condition for voice acting?
Now you’re not supposed to drink caffeine before doing voice overs, but I do. But I do also take a big glass of water in the booth with me too! I do my best to avoid singing loudly or shouting in my daily life. I’m not really a singer and I’m a very chill person so that helps. Shouting song lyrics at a concert the night before a Voice Over is a big no-no.
14. Can you tell us about a time when you had to take on a role that was completely different from what you were used to?
I think I may have covered this one earlier, with the Minotaur and old lady roles.
15. What are your thoughts on All Ages of Geek and what can we improve on to make it a better platform?
I had only heard about you today, but I had a little nosy on your website earlier and it looks awesome, and definitely like the kind of thing I’d love to check out occasionally!
16. Where can people find you online?
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/VoicesSarah
- Website: https://nightingale-voices.com
- Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/sarahnightingalevoices
- GVAA rates: https://globalvoiceacademy.com/gvaa-rate-guide-2/
- Indie rates: https://voiceactingclub.com/rates/
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