Know thy characters

What-He-WantsCasting directors and agents are always talking about the importance of versatility for voice actors. Ideally, you want to be able to play a 90 year old man, a French frog and a nerdy tween at the drop of a hat in order to increase the amount of roles you can audition for. Thing is not every actor has that range, especially when they are just starting out. And that’s okay. Instead of trying to be everything all of once, Hank Azaria style, try to identify what type of characters come to you easily, organically and truthfully. These are the voices that should lead in your demo, that should be the first thing your agent hears, and your other characters can build from this grounded core of truthful characterization. I often see actors go right for the wacky ones, but they have no depth and you can hear the strain. For some, wacky truthful voices come easy and more ‘natural’ voices are their challenge.

This business is all about knowing thyself, both thy strengths and thy weaknesses (I’m such a philosopher). We all strive to be more versatile but I’d encourage you to never sacrifice truth in order to show range.


March workshops: Sold out!




Both upcoming VPS workshops (In-Studio Animation March 22nd & Agent Info on March 29th ) are  currently SOLD OUT.

Yes, the wait list is OPEN! 






The agent search can be a tricky one. One of the hardest things for an actor to do is self-promote. Finding agent representation can feel so daunting and just the thought of the challenge may leave you feeling lost and overwhelmed.

Some of the most common questions I get from students are “I recorded my voice demo(s), where do I go from here?” and “Where do I start looking for an agent?” and “How do I create an effective agent submission package?“. If you’re looking for answers to those very questions then this 2-hour info session is for you.

I know how easy it is to fall victim to a feeling stuck mode, but you recorded that awesome voice demo(s) so you OWE it to yourself to get it/them heard. No more procrastinating. Capeesh? (fyi that’s me playing tough cop. You can expect A LOT more from where that came from at the info session, grrrr!).

The deets: main-qimg-42dbd62da1069e6122c345267cae817f-2

Date: Sunday, March 29th, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Class Size: Max 8 Students (location -The Annex)
Cost: $60 + HST (coffee & muffins included) REGISTER NOW!

This 2-hour workshop will address questions like:

  • I recorded my voice demo(s), where do I go from here?
  • Where do I start looking for an agent?
  • How do I create an effective agent submission package?

You will leave this session with resources and an action plan to move forward!


Next Workshop – March 22!

What’s that? You say you’d love to play the voice of a cartoon character? First things first, take my workshop on March 22nd and get the tools you need to make it happen. Now if only I could actually use any of those tools below…











Date: Sunday March 22, 2015

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Location: Downtown Toronto Recording Studio

Class Size: Max 8 Students –> *UPDATE ONLY 1 SPOT LEFT!!!*

Cost: $200 + HST

Class Topics:

  • Combining Sound & Movement
  • How to create dynamic characters on the spot
  • Energy levels, voice placements, mic technique
  • Audition Tips

To register, please send an email with some essential info about yourself to melissa@voiceprostudio.ca


Audition Tip: Improve-ise your reads

chicken hat

How do you make your audition stand out from the rest?  Wear a chicken hat?  Yep, that would do it.  However, If you want to make it stand out in a good way, Improvisation is one of the best tools you can use.  Always be on the lookout for spots in your script where you can throw in a little improv.  It could be a couple of extra words off the top or at the back end of your lines, some vocalization, bizarre noises, whatever makes sense in the context of the scene or moment.  Doing so shows the casting director that you’re bringing ideas to the table, you’re spontaneous and you know how to PLAY.

It is not uncommon for improvised lines to make it to the final product.  One of the best examples is Robin Williams in Aladdin;  most of what the Genie ended up saying came on the spot from the mind of Williams and not from the written page.  Don’t feel confident improvising?  Get out there and take a class.  It’s a muscle that needs to be worked out.  Bad Dog or Second City offer a variety of great classes.

So leave the chicken hat at home and book that next audition with your new and improv-ed self. Sorry for the lame puns, I couldn’t help myself.


voice directing wonder woman

As actors, one of the scariest questions you get is “so, what have been up to lately?”  When you’re busy, it’s easy to rattle off this and that in a casual, nonchalant ‘it’s always like this’ kind of way.  When it’s slow, that question can tie your stomach in knots and have you searching for the nearest fire alarm to pull.  I think the best remedy for this, besides avoiding tying your entire sense of identity to acting blah blah blah is to ALWAYS be working on your own projects.  I am constantly inspired by my students and especially those who create their own work.

Enter Lisa Berry, an amazing actress/singer/artist with double bodied energy who is always creating something new.  When she asked me to voice direct what she referred to as her “super geek” vision for a  comic book video, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this incredible team (Dion Johnstone, Jean-Michel Le Gal and Olunike Adeliyi).  The project is not intended to make money, it is simply a creative endeavour for its own sake. When you always have your own thing on the go, you always have something to talk about but more importantly, you always have something to do to release the creative energy that drives all of us in this nutty profession.

Check out the vid below produced by a real-life Wonder Woman and voice directed by little ol’ me.


Brush your shoulders off


Fighting cherubs in Wilanów Palace gardens








Acting is an intensely personal career. We are always being evaluated, putting our voice/body/inner life out there and hoping someone sees our talent and gives us a job. It is competitive, wrought with insecurity and can be mentally exhausting. The other day I was watching my toddler play with an older friend who was having one of those pushy grabby scratchy kind of days. My little man let it wash off him like it was nothing, somehow intuiting that it had nothing to do with him.

A day later, at an audition I saw an actor I knew who was not particularly friendly. My first instinct was to feel hurt and retreat, but then I remembered my toddler and his brush it off attitude. I tried not to let it get to me and lo and behold, by the time I left that audition I was having a nice conversation with this person.

When directors are insensitive, casting treats you like a piece of meat or fellow actors are passive aggressive, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!! Take it from my 20 month old, don’t take on other people’s water and get back to playing.


Any Bronies in the house?

I couldn’t be happier about the recent popping up of films like I Know That Voice  and In A World , shedding light on the très mysterious and uber seductive world of voice acting- ha!  Last night I watched A Brony Tale, beautifully directed by Brent Hodge and it kind of blew my mind. It delves into the shockingly large and committed fandom that are called ‘Bronies’. They are mostly grown men who have some serious man love for the ‘little girl’s’ cartoon My Little Pony. Intriguing right?!
The film also offers a little window into Vancouver-based voice actor/singer Ashleigh Ball’s life (she voices one of the ponies).  It’s fun seeing her play around in the studio with her characters who are mostly little boys. Ball has a scruffy, textured voice and a playful cadence she brings to her reads, pulling off a youthful sound with wide-eyed optimism and sincerity.
After watching this film, you may just want to jump on the Brony bandwagon, plus you’ll be 20% cooler for knowing what’s up.


Stephanie Malek – THIS












This past September funny girl Stephanie Malek gave me a ring about how her dream is to become a working voice actor. Steph is a high energy improviser and creator of spontaneous comedy for years now and really wanted to apply her skills and dive into the voice scene. And dive she did, well it was more like double flip with fancy pointed feet! We worked together for a couple of months on technique and created material for both her Animation and Commercial demos (recorded at the end of  November).

Then the new year rolls around and my girl Steph starts interviewing with voice agents and BAM she books her first ever voice gig. HELLO, that’s what I’m talking about!!!

Below is what Steph sent my way and with her permission had to share this with you all.

Hey Melissa! 

I just wanted to let you know that I booked my first voice job, directly off my demo! It’s for the Food Network and I go into the studio tomorrow morning. I’m so excited and nervous, but I’m gonna look back through my notes to make sure I do the best job I can do! Any last minute tips before my first job as a voice over artist? AAAAH. 

Thanks again for everything!













One of my fave Toronto voice directors Dee Shipley made a great point the other day about exclamation marks in animation scripts and I wanted to share it. Actors tend to think they need to “go big”, get really loud and over-exaggerate any line they see ending with the much-overused exclamation point. This can cause the whole performance to end up on the ceiling and be grating on the ear.

Try and experiment with different and dynamic ways to emphasize those sentences without blowing your lid and your opportunity to book the role!!!!!!!