Voice Actor “Bottom Feeder” Explodes at “Medium Voice Talent” [WARNING STRONG LANGUAGE]

It is a hotly contested topic with voice actors around the world. ‘Voice talent’ who undercut, underbid and undermine others just to get the work.

In what was once a thriving and lucrative industry, cattle-call-like casting websites, along with the technology to record coming down in price, allowed literally anyone to call themselves a voice actor.

This was to the ire of established professionals who saw the open source environment allowing for a watered down version of a voice over agent and the long term risk of jobs being devalued.

One voice talent who unashamedly agrees that he is one of those that happily accept and seek out the low paying jobs is Richard Dynas, who goes by the stage name ‘Ugly Dork’.

Dynas recently volunteered to partake in a session of ‘IamA’ at the popular social news website Reddit, where other users can pose questions to the host and get an anonymous response if the host chooses. The site has previously helped one aspiring man looking for voice over work, achieve his dream.

The title of Dynas’ ‘IamA’ was: “bottom feeder Voice Actor – I do voice overs the union actors won’t touch AMA!

The topic exploded with questions and answering flying thick and fast. Dynas had no qualms with being brutally honest and stating his gripes with the experienced voice actors who so regularly slam those like him just wanting to find more work.

Voice Over Herald chatted exclusively to Dynas and followed up with him whether there was any fallout, or if he had any regrets.

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How long have you been involved in voice overs?

I started voice overs by accident in 1989. I was dating a girl who worked in a studio on Elmwood ave. in Buffalo, she was a receptionist. I went in to grab her for lunch and the owner heard me. He asked if I wanted to read a commercial and I nailed it. I did a few more and the girl and I broke up so I never went back. I always missed it. In the 90’s I did some stand up at Charlie Goodnights open mic nights in Raleigh NC. to recapture that feeling of being center stage. I have done a few TV commercials, (I am 22 seconds blue shirt – wife before I even knew her is at :24 seconds!) here and there over the years until I met my wife and had kids in early 2000. Marriage and young kids took up most of my time but I really love doing voice work. For Christmas a few years ago I asked for gift certificates so I could build a studio in our basement. My wife thought I was crazy and hated it, but it has paid for itself. For 3 years I have been doing it as much as I can and loving every minute of it!

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve seen in starting a voice over career?

It’s the same for everyone – getting work. It is tough living in a city not named New York or Los Angeles. I live in a small town south of Buffalo, not a hotbed of activity. I have to have a real job while I do this and hope someday to have an agent and get more and more work. There are a ton of guys with USB microphones thinking they have a great deep voice so they can act, it doesn’t work like that. I had a very good friend of mine who can mimic tons of cartoon voices, tell me he wanted to do what I do. He came over and saw my studio and what I go through to get a $100 job, I never heard from him again about voice overs. It’s a tough business. Everyone thinks they are movie trailer guy or cartoon guy. The problem I see most, is guys and girls who can mimic x, y or z actor. Well, most commercials don’t want those actors or they would hire them. This business isn’t about being a parrot; it is about using your own voice and acting to sell a product or idea. I would give anything to have a national commercial or cartoon, but who am I? Unless you can get yourself in front of one of those decision makers, you take what you can get. Networking is key. From what I see on Twitter, Facebook and other websites, are the guys who are moderately successful making a good career out of selling us small guys the dream. They all seem to promote their training and coaching because they know the newbie’s will eat it up.

Male Voice Actor Richard Dynas
Male Voice Actor Richard Dynas behind the microphone

Sometimes I wonder if that is where the real money is? Honestly, I know you need coaching to help you get better, that’s a fact. But it pains me to see all the seminars and personal training that these guys push because they prey on the new people and separate them from their money. I guarantee that if someone comes to them that has zero talent and a headset mic; they will take their money and coach them up anyway, knowing they will never make it. I’m sure I could coach that same person and feed them the same lines. It annoys me that the entire voice over community is predicated on training and coaching, and who is doing all the training and coaching? The working voice actors! Do you really think that these people, who have made connections and got lucky, networked, knew someone, want to help you take a piece of their pie? Hell no! They complain all the time about how the market is flooded with new people who suck and take jobs for $50, then in their next breath tell the same people “I can coach you” now send me a check!

Hypocritical? Yes indeed. I don’t think anyone who is a really good voice actor making money doing big visible projects gives two craps about helping someone new. Do you think Julia Roberts is coaching some unknown actress? Hell no, she makes too much money and has no time. So, why do all these great voice actors have so much time to coach newbies? We know why, they want their money and they aren’t really all that busy,are they? Its the ugly unspoken truth about the industry.

I don’t care if I speak my mind, none of those people pay me or talk to me, I am a nobody because I don’t pay them. If you are so interested in someone’s talent, help them for free! Be a philanthropist. Don’t criticize those same people you gladly talk out of their money for taking low paying jobs. Its self perpetuating. Those voice over coaches are feeding on the dream of many for cash. It drives me crazy. I should pay you to coach me and then shun me? Help me for nothing if you believe. I cant afford coaching or a real demo, it hurts me and I know it. I do the best I can with what I have, if I make real money doing this, I will get coaching from someone reputable and same for my demo.

I am not against coaching or demos, just the scum who take money and bitch about those people out the other side of their mouth.

You recently participated in the Reddit ‘IamA’ session and referred to yourself as a “bottom feeder” That’s a pretty strong term and one that’s sure to ruffle some feathers. What was the motive behind the post?

Anger and Jealousy. Sick of seeing medium talent voice actors complaining about non-union scrubs pricing down their meal tickets. I say medium talent voice actors because the top dogs don’t give a shit about us. The medium talent who think they rule the roost. These are the guys who do some national and regional work and work from home, don’t live in LA or NYC and make a living doing voice over while their spouses have jobs. They have websites and training all over the internet. Just look up voice over training and you will see them. They have slick ads that make themselves look like big time actors who will give you, the little newbie, the tools to make it big for a price.

I really think that without their training seminars, they would not be able to live. I am 100% sure that I will get hate mail and people will be pissed. Look at it this way, when you see ads on the internet from scammers promising to make you millions working from home part time, who are they targeting? Poor, uneducated and desperate people. If someone was making that much money, why would they share the secret with you? Why would they care if you become rich? Did Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak share their secrets with anyone for a price? The same with coaching, why do these people care about you taking a piece of their work? They don’t, they know most people won’t follow through or invest in their craft. It’s a safe bet.

If Mike Rowe or Seth MacFarlane contacted me and offered me coaching and work, I would kiss their ass. I love their work and could listen to them all day. Some guy on the internet who has done a few McDonald and Nike commercials is not getting any money from me. I am broke and I can’t afford to give my money away. I just keep taking the low paying jobs so I can keep doing something I love hoping that someday I will get “discovered”.

Let’s look at Ted Williams, the guy who was discovered by a highway. This guy has an awesome voice. He ruined his life with drugs and alcohol. Even after he was discovered he has continued to have these same problems. Why is this guy being rewarded and I am sitting here at 9:30 in my pajamas writing this and trying to figure out how I will retire? Luck, luck and luck.

I am doing things the right way and being a good husband and father and I keep getting laid off. My College degree has not kept me working, three layoffs n 12 years! If it wasn’t for the “bottom feeding” jobs I pick up, I may not have a mortgage payment one month or money for kids dance classes. To be honest, I am damn good at what I do. I don’t feel any less of a voice actor than the people who do the big boy national commercials or cartoons. I have an awesome voice, I can act and I have awesome cartoon voices. The difference? I haven’t been “discovered”. I am not putting down the people who have busted their asses in LA or NYC to make a name for themselves. I am sure some luck went into anyone breaking into the big time, but sometimes you have to make your own luck.

Do I want to make it big so others hate me and are jealous, hell yeah! I want to make enough money that my kids and wife are taken care of and we have a great life. Now, we struggle like most families.

Back to the original question, my motive was to educate a person trying to make this their career and what it is like from the perspective of someone who is at the bottom. I want to be famous and rich, who doesn’t?

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Dynas certainly isn’t holding back. Tomorrow we find how if there’s been any backlash to his post or whether it’s improved his job prospects. In part 3 we get feedback from a former Casting Director about what Dynas should be doing to find work.

What are your thoughts on “bottom feeders” and Dynas motives and non-traditional way of finding work? Sound off in the comments below.

Kurt Myers

Kurt Myers is an opinionated, social media and voice industry expert. He has been involved in agency sales, marketing, and talent development for the past 9 years.

  • Ron Rhodes

    Well said, Marc.

  • Ron Rhodes

    I totally get where he is coming from. As a voice actor, I am also working a full-time job while I work to build my VO business pipeline. I have several agents, including two overseas. I have worked for a few big clients, and continue to market myself like crazy. And, yes, I do hate it when voice actors take bottom-feeding jobs and thus reduce the income potential for the rest of us. But, the truth is, that I’m a hypocrite. Because I’ve taken bottom-feeding jobs when I needed to. Like Dynas, I, too, have been laid off and I have had to take jobs that I would otherwise turn away. I don’t like that Dynas regularly takes these jobs, but I have zero room to judge. My full time job is my strongest bargaining chip. If I weren’t employed full time, I would have far less leverage. It’s wrong that clients regularly offer scrub rates. It’s not wrong, however, to do whatever it takes to feed your family. Luckily, I can turn down the bottom feeder jobs right now. But, if I end up unemployed (God forbid), I’d be taking the jobs I need to take. And, I’d be happy to drink a cheap beer or two with Dynas.

    . . . . Marc Scott, in a comment below, said that he’s never been “discovered,” but makes a living at VO. I think that’s what Dynas is referring too… just making a living. It takes work, and I’m very happy for you, Marc! I’m jealous in all the good ways, if that makes sense. It gives me hope that my career goal as a Voice Actor is actually possible. Way to go!

  • Honest Rob

    There i an immense amount of anger in this fellow, and much of it seems predicated on his own misguided beliefs about the industry he works in.

    Mr. Dynas won’t pay for training and only does bottom level jobs (at his own admittance) out of his own studio yet believes the only reason he is not big like Ted Williams (an accomplished DJ and VO actor before his drug problems) is merely because this he hasn’t been “discovered.”

    No, it is because you reap what you sow. Keep doing bottom feeder jobs and don’t seek out proper training and you will never rise above the level you are at.

    Everyone starts at the bottom. It is attitude and skill that make opportunities – luck has nothing to do with it. Bitterness is an anchor. Take half that bitterness and turn it into motivation and you will be unstoppable.

  • Honest Bob

    You said “””A rising tide raises all boats.” Isn’t the converse true? Low tide causes all boats to lower.””

    EXACTLY.
    When desperate actors take $50 for a job that should be 10x that, they lower the water for EVERYONE in the ocean.
    After all, if someone will do it for $50, maybe next time he’ll do it for $25.
    At some point the Bottom Feeder must realize they are cannibalizing not just other VO actors’ work, but their own as well.

  • terrydaniel

    “I just keep taking the low paying jobs so I can keep doing something I love hoping that someday I will get “discovered”.

    This is not the VO world we are living in. By constantly taking $5 VO jobs, you’re only hurting yourself. If you seriously took the time to build a good business plan and market yourself like crazy, you wouldn’t have to take lowball jobs. Perhaps if you stopped shredding voiceover coaches and actually started taking some of their advice, you wouldn’t have to depend on luck and “getting discovered.” Sure, there are cookie-cutter demo outfits out there, who have nothing more in mind than making a quick buck but most coaches I know including myself, actually care about the growth and progress of students. I love coaching and teaching but I could give it up tomorrow and still make a great living doing voiceovers. I do it because I really enjoy it and nothing pleases me more than a student getting that first job or signing with their first talent agent.

    And by the way, Steve Jobs was rich and shared plenty for a price. He spoke at thousands of corporations sharing his secrets and inspiration. Do you think he did that for free? And no, he didn’t have to do it but some do it because they love teaching, period.

    My advice and I hope you’ll take it with an open mind, is to define what “successful” means to you. Write it down and determine what you want to achieve when you want to execute it. Then determine the necessary steps you will need to take to achieve your goal and commit to doing each of the steps in the right order. Start by building a database of potential clients/agents/production companies that you want to market to via email, phone or through a postcard mailing. Then, attack it!

    By the way, I am writing all of this for free at 7pm at night so please don’t tell me that coaches only care about money. Good luck to you.

  • terrydaniel

    Spoken like a true prodigy. If there were a voiceover bible, this passage should be in it!

  • I think there is some truth to Mr. Dynas’ ramblings…certainly my mailbox is crammed with “opportunities” re voice-over for more training. more webinars, coaching, etc. But two rebuttals from me:

    1 -Some of these opportunities are awesome – you learn a lot, get better, and land more work. (Yes, even after making a living at voice acting – yeah, one of those “middle people” and damn proud of it – for over 20 years). But you must be willing to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

    2 – This is downright insulting: ” If you are so interested in someone’s talent, help them for free! Be a philanthropist.” – Dear Richard, just check out all the blogs, articles, and you-tube tutorials available to you for FREE? We make no money doing these. Most of us did it out of a sense of helping others – the ones who truly want to work hard at this – and to spread the wealth of info. As for the dozens of e0mails each of us gets daily, asking for “free advice” or to “Share our list of clients”…well. I mean, really? So we help as much as we can. But we have clients to please first.

    thanks for starting an interesting discussion. I wish you well.
    Randye

  • Your broke because you work for low rates. But you can’t afford not to work for low rates because you’re broke. I can understand the catch 22 of the scenario. Truly!

    But what’s the long term solution? It’s not getting “discovered.” I’ve never been “discovered” and I make a very good living working full-time at voice over. Luck certainly has nothing to do with either. The word’s not even in my vocabulary.

    The solution is discovering, accepting and promoting YOUR value. Your self worth! You’re worth more than $5, $10 or $30 voice over jobs. But only if you believe you are.

  • Spencer_Eden

    In response to Anthony’s comment, I didn’t read bitterness into Mr. Dynas’ comments. This is a guy doing what it takes to survive. He’s not out to destroy the voiceover industry. He’s responding to The Market.

    In A World where American advertisers outsource creative projects to Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans, whose cost of living is far lower than ours, it’s not surprising that mid and upper-level VOs would never consider taking projects based on their scale. But hey guys and gals, have you been watchintg the news for the past 6 years??? Do you understand that there are 8 million people in this country living below the poverty level? Do you understand that we who earn less than $500,000 a year have been sold out? Do you understand that jobs are scarce?

    At 61 years of age, I’m in the same boat as Mr. Dynas. To compound the complexity, I have a working spouse and we are caregivers to my 91-year-old mom who lives with us. At this phase of my VO career, I really should have another full-time job. But at 61, you don’t just go out and “get a job,” especially with an elderly relative in the home.

    And there’s an X factor no one has addressed here … the spouse. How I would LOVE to get a couple of $500 voice gigs per week! And that would certainly put my wife’s mind at ease. As it is, she’s grooming dogs each day and living with the various aches and pains of that, including carpal tunnel, what kind of man am I if I am passing up any chance to bring in $50 or $100?

    Most of you entered the industry at a much different time. I daresay most of you are capitalist entrepreneurs. As such you KNOW the market determines pricing. Yet you are either in denial because you think thieves are stealing from you or you have no clue what a vast number of Americans are going through right now. I could have sworn that we all learned the capitalist maxim, “A rising tide raises all boats.” Isn’t the converse true? Low tide causes all boats to lower.

    It is not “we” who struggle to carve out something for ourselves who are doing this to you. Direct your ire toward Wall Street and the corporate entities who sold this country out. The “recession” of 2008 pretty much took me out immediately. That summer I was on the verge of homelessness. At age 55 I moved in with my mom for 2 years. Then a buddy of mine and I shared an apartment for a year. How would your ego cope with that??? Not very sexy! Two years ago, I married. A year and a half ago, we bought a house for $114,000 and needless to say, I’ve spent much of that time gutting and rebuilding it. With NO construction experience. And while I was at it, I built my whisper room. And nearly everything I earn in VO goes right back into equipment … and coaching.

    So I’m trying to make a comeback at 61 and to Richard Dynas I say Hats Off To You, Buddy! You must have an extremely patient wife!

  • I would have given Kurt a better picture if he asked! I will start by saying, I am not bitter at all, I am a super happy person. My business plan is working as we speak!

  • Anthony Gettig

    VO is show business; and show business is 98% business and 2% show. It would appear Mr. Dynas does not have a business plan and marketing plan. If he does, it needs to be rewritten with some positive thinking! No one with a victim mentality and attitude like this is going to be “discovered” the way they hope they will be. I feel sorry for people that are this bitter. Life is too short for that kind of perpetual heartache.

  • Wow some provocative points made. Richard Dynas is correct that not everyone needs or wants training to get into voice overs, but some do.

    Creatives are under continual pressure to source new voices, it’s the lifeblood of the industry, and that’s where voice coaches come in. Our role is to encourage beginners and shine a light on the path ahead.

    Good voice over trainers (like all decent teachers) want to make a real difference and get a genuine thrill when their students get that first job; it’s a wonderful feeling.

    Oh and not every voice over artist wants to be rich and famous; most just want to have fun, stay under the radar and earn some money along the way. What’s wrong with that?