Kids, Young Adults and The Value of Voice-over

I don’t know about you, but I was stage struck as child.  To me, acting wasn’t just a fun way to play (which it was) it was a flat-out quest that continues to drive me today.  It’s a driven passion that keeps me going, even when met with great opposition.

To a parent one of the biggest concerns is coming to terms with the fact that your child will face continued opposition as an actor, whether that be from numerous snarky competitors who don’t appreciate being bested, or after delivering a strong, confident audition only to discover someone else booked the job.  This is tough pill to swallow for an adult let alone a young performer. Yet, in spite of everything, young talent dedicatedly continue and their desire to press on remains. An inherent positive outlook is required of both of you.

After training and producing literally thousands of voiceover demos for thousands of young performers over the years ranging from age 4 through 17, I’ve come to the conclusion a kid with a voice-over demo is like a kid with a loaded gun—they’re bound to hit something.

Kids with voice-over demos work—provided they have access to a talent agent that handles both kids and commercial voice-over, and provided the voice-over demo sounds like actual national commercials.  If your child can’t easily re-create what’s on his demo, that demo will be misrepresenting his abilities.  However, a well-produced voice-over demo can act as a remarkably effective tool to better define your child’s public personae and what sort of commercial work he’s best suited to book.  Without the benefit of having a proper commercial on-camera reel (yet), an effective voice-over demo can offer producers and directors a better idea of how vivid your child’s imagination really is and how it applies to a mass medium like commercial work.

Part of the beauty of being a young actor is this truly is the only time the actor can actually walk into the audition or job and simply act.  As an adult actor you must handle all the administrative, financial, technical, communication, and scheduling logistics involved with establishing and maintaining a career in this field.  Instead, all of those duties fall to YOU!  All your child or young adult actor should ever worry about is stepping into an audition, onto a set or booth… and just “play”.   (They don’t call a “play” a play for nothing.)  Allowing your child the freedom to do just that means you’re doing your job well.  And it is a job!   This certainly explains why so few child actors continue in the business into adulthood. They must have had powerhouse parents who flawlessly maintained the administrative aspects of running their small business that gave the child ample opportunity to concentrate solely on performing. When they move on to adulthood, they suddenly discover that 90% of success is administrative.  The rest is showing up and delivering goods.


Article by Kate McClanaghan,

Kate McClanaghan

Kate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both BIG HOUSE CASTING & AUDIO (Chicago and Los Angeles) and ACTORS’ SOUND ADVICE. Kate is a seasoned industry veteran and actress who has trained and produced demos for more than 5,000 talent over the years. Kate has developed a unique, custom-tailored approach to establishing, expanding and maintaining a professional career as a working actor and voice-over. Her approach is detailed in The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voice-over & the Business of Being a Working Talent.