The Voiceover Casting Process

The Voiceover Casting Process

Adventures with chocolate and kitty litter

So… you want to be a working voice actor, eh?

First: You have a pro home studio.

Second: You’ve vetted your sound and delivery

You’re ready!

Let me walk you through from my perspective of your perspective on how you get picked for the big jobs.

It’s a simple and little cheeky, but what are we if not entertaining!

First, some fancy producer posts a casting call on the internet (or via a platform, or from a casting director, or agency, or direct email, or, or, or) for their next blockbuster thingamabob.

“Seeking sultry female voice able to sell chocolate as if it was made of gold!”

Hordes of voice actors (this would be you) clamor for the chance, polish up their gold chocolate voices, and send in audition files (MP3s only); it’s a voiceover Hunger Games out there!

The casting director (or project owner or agent) reviews the auditions and picks their faves to send forward for consideration. If you make the cut, woo hoo! Party time! No? Just me? Moving on then… 🙂

Directors, producers and the client join the judging panel for this round. It’s gettin’ real now!

Judges debate and finally choose their golden ticket winner. The lucky voice actor gets a lifetime supply of… the role! Ka-ching!

Time to sign contracts and finalize logistics. Don’t let your agent (in your C-Suite (see my book: negotiate you down to a single chocolate bar payment; just don’t!

Alright, now go dazzle them with that silky voice in the real recording session! This is your big break, baby! Be nice, professional, and on-point – you definitely was repeat work!

Deliver the files and pray to the voiceover gods they don’t ask for too many revisions. Some of us still have our dignity. But if they do – if excessive – demand more pay!

Your sultry tones are now immortalized in the project.

Sit back and wait for that sweet chocolatey fame and fortune!

From the Perspective of the Project Owner/Casting Director, and in this case, ME!

I get up at the crack of dawn because my dog must pee. She has a doggy door, but that doesn’t matter. I beg her to sleep a little longer; she ignores me.

After coffee, I check my email to see if I have any new VO casting requests. Oh, who am I kidding – I have my phone on high alert and respond within minutes – even if it’s 2AM.

BOOM! There’s that request!

First, I get the details from the client. “I need a voice that can make kitty litter sound exciting!” Whoop! From here I get as much clarity as I can for the sound and mood of the voice. I also typically help to negotiate the rate (see additional detail on the next page). And deadlines – don’t shoot the messenger – it’s out of my hands.

Time to post the casting call! I sign-on to CastVoices (it’s the only platform I use) and set-up a project. I decide if I’m going to post through Agents or Platform matching. This time I opt for Platform Matching.

I describe the role as requiring a “warm, trustworthy voice” to avoid scaring away talent.

Gotta trap them first <insert grin>!

I actually give as much detail as I can pull from my clients and then some. I also make sure all of the specs and rates are locked and loaded, I add the copy, and then hit “INVITE.”

Now I wait for the audition files (MP3s only) to roll in – usually within minutes – but I leave it open long enough to get 400 auditions per roll.

And then the listening begins… Half sound like late night hot tub commercials. Delete! I guess not everyone has a “kitty litter voice” 😊. Seriously – email yourself one of your auditions and listen to it on your laptop without earphones… WHY? Because that is how MY clients are listening!!

After going through a mountain of questionable auditions,

I pick the great options (normally 100 or so) for the client.

The talent get all eager thinking they have a shot. Poor naïve souls… I KIDD! I KIDD! Truth be told, there are some mighty fine talent on CastVoices who are literally sitting in there studios banging out auditions as they roll in. And this is not just CastVoices. These actors are on MANY platforms. They are winning because they are FAST and GOOD!

The client and director join the next audition review. You’d think they were judging American Idol with all their bickering and dramatic pauses. All this for kitty litter!

Finally, they decide on Sue The Magnificent. I let Sue know, connect her with the clients directly, and I bow out.

Sue signs the contracts quickly before they change their minds. Smart gal. The session is booked and happens with the style and grace that only Sue can muster; she’s goooooooood!

And that’s a wrap! Another star born; another kitty litter commercial ready for fame.

Sue can thank me later when she wins her SOVAS or OVC or Telly or, or, and! 😊

Meanwhile, I let the others down gently by never returning their calls.

Ghosting is the only way!

OK, OK – I’m not usually so harsh – but there is some truth in the ghosting. Unless there is TIME (and there normally never is), I don’t give audition feedback. If I DO give feedback, it is 99% for one of the following two responses:

  • Your sound is bad (41% of the submissions are);
  • I asked for an audition, NOT your demo.

Other reasons you will get automatically swiped left:

  • You changed the copy.
  • You translated to another language not requested.
  • Your read was not what I was looking for.

And then I chill. All in a day’s work for this casting director!

All kidding aside – I hope this is helpful.

If something is not clear – just ask and I’ll do my best to explain.

I seriously want you all to win!

Because it matters!


Liz Atherton

VO Casting director 

#castvoices #Hirehuman

Share this across your favorite social channels

Audio Description

Audio Description

Using Your Voice to Bring Images to People Who Are Blind

Last December I had the great privilege of joining Rudy and Joan for the SOVAS “That’s VoiceOver!” series of sessions in Los Angeles. Specifically, they asked me to introduce attendees to a relatively new field of voice work—audio description. 

Audio Description or AD is a literary art form.  It’s a type of poetry—a haiku.  It provides a verbal version of the visual—the visual is made verbal, and aural (he points to his ear), and oral (he point to his mouth). Using words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative, audio description conveys the visual image that is not fully accessible to a segment of the population—new estimates by the American Foundation for the Blind now put that number at over 31 million Americans alone who are blind or have difficulty seeing even with correction. And, of course, visual images are not often fully realized by the rest of us: sighted folks who see but who may not observe. Besides—it’s great for anyone who’s making a sandwich in the kitchen while the TV is on in the living room! 

It’s useful for anyone who wants to truly notice and appreciate a more full perspective on any visual event but it is especially helpful as an access tool for people who are blind or have low vision. Over the last four decades, I’ve written and voiced AD for thousands of arts events (performances—theater, dance, opera; media—feature films, nationally televised broadcasts, and streaming video; and myriad museum exhibitions) and I’ve also provided description at weddings, parades, rodeos, circuses, sports events, even funerals. 

When I teach AD at sessions around the world, I focus a great deal on the crafting of the language used—but 99% of all AD is written to be heard. That’s where SOVAS comes in—a voice talent trained in voicing techniques for AD is critical to the success of the effort to translate a visual image to the spoken word.

Nowadays, it seems as though we are on the cusp of AI dominance in all manner of endeavor. Speech synthesis is already employed by some companies who produce AD for broadcast television. I feel strongly that the appropriate voicing of AD is done with nuance, attention to the images on screen, and an understanding of the phrasing used in the writing of the description. Indeed, in 2021, the American Council of the Blind passed a resolution noting its “full support for … the use of human voices in the voicing of audio description for cinema and narrative video or streaming.” 

Can the spread of AI/speech synthesis be stopped or forestalled? Should it be? I decided to pose the question to a popular form of AI—Chat GPT. One might wonder how Chat GPT will evaluate its sister app’s usefulness—

I asked ChatGPT (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer): “Why is TTS inappropriate for audio description?” Its response reveals that AI apps are not necessarily supportive of each other! Read Chat GPT’s response: 

“While TTS technology can be helpful for converting written text into spoken words, it is generally considered inappropriate for audio description due to a few key reasons:

“TTS lacks nuance: TTS technology is not capable of providing the level of detail and nuance required for effective audio description. For example, TTS may not be able to convey the emotions or tone of a character’s voice, which is essential for understanding the story and characters.

“TTS may not accurately describe visual elements: Audio description involves describing the visual elements of a scene or event to provide context and understanding to the listener. TTS may not accurately describe these elements, which can lead to confusion or incorrect interpretation of the scene.

“TTS can be distracting: TTS technology can be distracting and disrupt the flow of the audio description. This can be especially true if the TTS voice is not natural-sounding or does not match the tone of the audio description.

“In summary, while TTS technology can be useful in many situations, it is generally not considered appropriate for audio description due to its lack of nuance, potential inaccuracies, and potential for distraction. Instead, trained human audio describers are generally used to provide high-quality audio description for media content.” 

AI apps are inevitable and will surely bring great advances to humanity. But—at least for the foreseeable future—an experienced and *human* voice talent is key to effective AD. And AD offers tremendous opportunities for voice artists—a way to do well by doing good.

Share this across your favorite social channels

The Bar

The Bar

Dialects, Accents & Reaching The Bar

In the modern, Authentic Casting landscape of voiceover, where have you set your bar for submitting for a role (if given the opportunity) that, by spec, calls for voice/dialect that does not align with your everyday speaking voice, upbringing, ethnicity, etc.? 

Will you audition for a role with a voice/dialect spec which is not in alignment with your race?  (My answer:  I can think of no circumstances in which I would.  Exception being, of course, if I’m the single narrator of an audiobook and there is a character of a different race than my own, it would be my duty to voice the character.) 

Will you audition for a role with a voice/dialect spec which is not in alignment with your gender?  (My answer, again:  I can think of no circumstances in which I would.  Exception being, again, if I’m the single narrator of an audiobook voicing characters of all genders and races.) 

Same with many other cultures.  So, for a moment, let’s latch on to that exception– that of audiobooks.  You can be CERTAIN that when these duties come up in the course of narrating an audiobook, I do my absolute damnedest to be accurate and respectful. 

If I’m called upon or cast to voice dialects representing communities of people beyond those of my natural Bostonian and/or General American sound, or of other nationalities besides my Irish and/or Italian background, again, I do my absolute damnedest to be accurate and respectful (additionally there would need to be a great number of people in those communities who are aligned with my race for me to feel right accepting the job). 

That’s where my bar is set.  When I’m not the authentic choice, I BETTER be an extremely accurate steward of the community I’m representing with my acting skills – I, therefore, demand of myself to be an ACCURATE choice.  Furthermore, I share this bar-setting when getting started with my clients.  Many of my dialect clients have similar feelings and similar bar-settings.  Speaking now about dialects which are more easily justified in going after (take, for example, a Massachusetts-born American like myself, who has spent a great deal of time living in New York, choosing to learn a New York dialect) I would STILL find it extremely unprofessional to claim dialect skills on, say, an acting resume, which are not fully under control.  Needless to say, my standards for inclusion of a dialect on an acting resume are very high and require a high control level. 

Without valuing accuracy and control highly, folks can too easily create “caricature dialects” which, depending on the context, can wind up being too-short-a-distance to a disrespectful portrayal.  The accuracy of my own dialect performance is derived, as I’ve said, from a self-imposed insistence on great accuracy, based upon deep study, and born of a passionate appreciation and love for every culture for which I can deliver a dialect/accent (particularly those I cannot claim as part of my own heritage).  When asked, I always say the same thing:  it is my fervent belief that the inclusion of a dialect (or accent) on an actor’s vocal resume should ONLY be done when the actor is FULLY confident in it – significant study (whether it’s through coaching or some other means) is required. 

Once deciding to take Dialect Study upon yourself, you’ll be able to look forward to some great benefits (more on these benefits coming up in a future installment of contribution to The VoiceOver Community).  When you do embark, take your time and enjoy the process in building confidence.  Some dialects will come easily, some will be harder-won.  As an example, there is a single moneme (one tiny sound) which long prevented me from placing Australian on my own major “Active Performing” list — despite being able to do an Australian dialect, having done it AND having booked with it!  To this day, it’s not reeeeeeally a dialect which easily flows for me which is why you won’t see it on my most exalted list:  “Active Coaching”.  (Side note about Australian:  the dialect is definitely now on my “Active Performing” list – with the help of a coach, I did finally conquer that moneme.  I do and have worked on it with clients despite not advertising the dialect on my main lists.)  Point is:  patience is key in dialect study. 

And NO ONE does EVERY dialect.  Some of my heroes and gurus certainly do more dialects than I do.  Certainly I do more than most.  At the end of the day though, quantity should never be more important than quality.  

At least not where I sit.  Food for VO thought. 

Thanks, Marc Preston, for inviting me to contribute!

– Tom Antonellis

Share this across your favorite social channels

Less Rear View

Less Rear View

Time management & forward momentum

As we kick off the expanded offerings at, I wanted to take a quick moment to thank you for being a part of The Voiceover Community.  Our members comprise a truly cool tribe of talented folks from around the world.  It’s always my objective to offer up as much value as I can in our neck of the webbernet.  So, thanks for being here…and for being the best part of The Voiceover Community! 🙂 

Today, I wanted to take a moment to address a couple of related topics…time management and forward momentum.  Back in drivers ed, we all learned the Zen of checking your mirrors while driving.  It is all about staying safe through maintaining situational awareness.  However, your focus and navigation should mostly be on the road ahead.  How does this apply to voiceover?  It’s very simple…stop looking in your rearview mirror!

I am referring to this rising paradigm of talent fixating on completed auditions, “short listing” and other similar results and metrics.  This holds especially true for pay-to-play and casting sites.  Yes, P2P sites can offer some value as a spoke or two on your marketing wheel.  However, P2P sites have attempted to inject a new paradigm into the discussion…a paradigm that many talent have grabbed on to as being a “thing.”  This would be the metric and term “short listing.”

What does short listing mean?  Basically, depending on the platform, it essentially means that you have made an initial “cut” of talent that the buyer eliminated from the casting process.  That’s more or less the definition.  Now, what does it REALLY mean?  Nothing of any real actionable value.  What is a better metric?  Casting!

P2P sites are built as a means of bringing buyers and talent together.  Yet, don’t forget that they are a business and are focused on their bottom line.  A paid subscription based site shares some functional DNA with dating and social media sites.  They inject elements into their platforms that keep you on the platform…interacting and paying your subscription fee.  One such tool implemented by P2P sites is the “short list” (or something similar, depending on the platform). 

Ultimately, this is a nebulous metric.  It will not give you any actionable information.  What good does it do to look back…to hypothesize as to where you fall in said “short list” of potential candidates for a gig, and why?  Why should you engage with a platform and burn time and energy looking back at a completed audition?  The process of auditioning is one where you prepare, deliver and then move on.  

“An actor is supposed to create a compelling, interesting character, that serves the text. You present it in the environment where your audition happens. And then you walk away. And that’s it. Everything else is out of your control. Don’t even think about it. Don’t focus on that.”

-Bryan Cranston

Always remember that your time and creative energy are resources that can be unintentionally squandered.  This often happens when you divert your focus from the road ahead.  Many of us have a hard enough time not being distracted by a shiny object or a SQUIRREL!  Stay aware of the value and management of your time.  Minutes and hours spent looking in your rear view mirror, are minutes and hours you could put into marketing, relationship management, skill development, etc.  Invest your time wisely.  Let the auditions live in the past and keep moving forward.  Stay enthusiastic about what is to come, instead of what could have been.  As always, those are just my two pesos.

Your friend and neighbor,


Share this across your favorite social channels