Business of VO – Inside the Casting Process

You’re behind the mic every day. But have you ever thought about what happens AFTER you hit that send button? In this episode, Anne and Gabby talk about the ins and outs of the casting process. Gabby talks about her experience as a former voice over casting agent and gives you all the dirty little details about what agents AND clients are looking for in casting the perfect voice.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. The more you reverse engineer the process, the better chance you have of booking the job

  2. You don’t have to answer every audition

  3. Play into your wheelhouse. What resonates with you?

  4. The language in the script can give you cues on what the client is looking for

  5. Casting is part psychology and part demographics

  6. Right, wrong or indifferent, stereotypes are the basis for advertising

  7. Are you a good representation of this spot or are you going to be offensive?

  8. Have integrity in your performances

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

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VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss, a VO BOSS. Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success with your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS.

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Anne: OK, now, let’s get on with today’s episode. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my VO BOSS bestie, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.

Anne: Hi, Anne!

Anne: You know, Gabby, I think that it’s so important for us as voiceover talent to really understand all aspects of the industry. I think it would be a good idea to talk today about the casting process. What do you think?

Gabby: Oh yeah, I love that. I mean, the same way we’re running a business, casting is the other side of the coin, right? I mean the people who are looking to cast a role, they’re conducting their business. They are using this as a vehicle typically for their advertising or marketing or promotion efforts. And it, it has its own intricacies, right? I mean like, we know ours, but –

Anne: For sure.

Gabby: But looking at someone else’s needs can make a big difference in terms of who books and who doesn’t.

Anne: I think it’s important to note that casting directors have a job, but before they have that job, they have a client. And that client has a product that they’re trying, typically trying to sell, or they’re trying to expand the brand. And so, a lot of the direction or the needs come directly from the client, who then talk about their needs or communicate their needs to the casting director about how they want to sell a product. And I think that the more we can understand that whole aspect of the industry, the better we can serve the client, or the casting director, with our voices, to be able to, to help elevate that brand, or sell the product, or whatever it is.

Gabby: When I worked in advertising, we had something really cool. Our sales department had a CNA, which is a client needs analysis, that was filled out and discussed with every single advertiser who was coming to us. And man, it would get into some really cool stuff, like things that I don’t think voice actors necessarily think about. So questions on a client’s CNA for casting would be things like, who’s your competitor?

Anne: Right.

Gabby: What’s the average age of your buyer or your ideal buyer? Literally I always tell people, it’s a full demographics breakdown.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: It’s everything from age, race, ethnicity, gender, education —

Anne: Income, yeah.

Gabby: Income, yeah —

Anne: Hobbies.

Gabby: All those factors. Yeah. And by the time you’re done, you, you basically have a really clear picture of the person they’re trying to attract.

Anne: And also the person that they’re trying to attract, typically they’re going to want to — and these days, because we are educated consumers, and I say this over and over and over again — they want to have typically a voice that speaks that language to that audience, and they can –

Gabby: Totally.

Anne: They can completely, you know, identify with. So you know, if you’re talking about selling, I don’t know, cleaning products, you know, it might be to a, you know, a mom or a household member that does cleaning. So that’s important to know.

Gabby: It’s always about relevance, and it’s about authenticity. And who’s going to be the most credible person to speak to the group of people that I’m trying to reach? And that’s huge. Um and there’s so many defining characteristics there. Now, where I think this applies in the booth, and as a voice actor is, the more we take the time to sort of reverse engineer the process, if we’re looking at a script, if we’re given specs — and we all know this. Sometimes the specs aren’t super complete. Right?

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: There’s a lot of lack in detail.

Anne: Exactly.

Gabby: It’s wise for us to really stop and go, “do I fit the bill? Do one of my character voices, does one of my characters fit the bill? You know, am I going to be able to be a credible, believable person for this casting, and for this audience?” And so that’s huge. Like I, I always find it funny because my, my students ask me this a lot. And I don’t, I don’t know if you get asked the same question. You know, I’m always telling them, “don’t, don’t feel obligated to do everything. Don’t feel like you have to answer every single audition.” And they, they look at me of course, and they go, “well, what don’t you answer?”

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: [sighs]

Anne: Oh my gosh, there, there’s quite a bit that I don’t answer.

Gabby: I stay away from anything that is too nurturing, too caring.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: Too much a mom, like literally, compassion. If I see the word “compassionate” –

Anne: Oh my goodness.

Gabby: In specs, I run away.

Anne: Gabby, Gabby, I’m so glad that you said that. I just had a conversation this morning, seriously, with one of my students. And I’m talking about, and I think that anybody that’s a listener here — I’m just going to get a little bit personal again — knows that I’m a cancer survivor. Some people may think that that makes me compassionate and that I can speak that language.

Gabby: [laughs]

Anne: So my story is this, and it, and it’s very interesting because my student that I was talking to about this was also a cancer survivor. And we were like, “oh my gosh, yes. This is exactly it.” So as we are progressing through our journey, right, in recovery, and we’re both thankfully, we’re all, we’re both good, when you’re talking about finding compassion, it depends on what level and at what point you’re talking compassion to, you know, the client. So let’s say the client is a hospital, and they want to make you feel good about their services, and that they have the latest in technology that can help you to battle your disease. And, and so if you were to talk to me, and try to get me to do that at any point during my journey, I would be like, “look, just, you know” — ’cause I had to like take a stand and be like, “come on, all right, we are going to forge forward. And we are going to like” — there is no compassion here. Grow up, and let’s just get the job done, and let’s do it.

Gabby: Cut the crap, and let’s kick this thing in the ass. Yeah.

Anne: Exactly. And so that’s not the compassionate voice that you need —

Gabby: mm-hmm.

Anne: When you are first encountering a diagnosis like that. And so, it’s so funny –

Gabby: Isn’t it funny?

Anne: Because I had another student who did a spot, a cancer spot, and was amazing.

The compassion in her voice was just incredible. But yet, if you ask me to do that, I probably could not get there. Because I personally don’t feel that way. [laughs]

Gabby: But I believe that right there, does — it doesn’t matter how great an actor we are or aren’t.