Name: Rachael Naylor
Title: Voice Over Artist
Credits Include: CNN, Olay, Virgin Media, Toni
& Guy, Cadbury, Oman Air, American Express, Asda, Nestle,
Ryanair, Honda, Pirelli, McCain’s, BMW, O2, National Geographic,
Tesco, Toshiba, British Gas
Interview Date: July 2014
Q. Hi Rachael, give us
a little background on yourself before you became a voice over
artist (degree, training, relevant work experience, interests,
A. After leaving college where I did a BTEC in
performing Arts I went travelling around the world which was a
lot of fun and when I got back I went to drama school. I’ve
always wanted to be an actress, my Grandfather was Geoffrey Sumner
and he was a massive inspiration to me growing up.
Q. And how
did you first get started working in the voice over industry?
A. A couple of years after leaving Drama school
I saw an advert for a free 2 hour workshop on voiceovers in the
back of the Equity Magazine. So I decided to go along and see
what it was all about. I thought it sounded fascinating so I booked
in to do a studio test; they wouldn’t do your showreel unless
you were ready. As soon as I started working in the studio I felt
really at home and I loved it! They said I was ready and that
they wanted to make my showreel. So I got it produced, made a
load of CD’s (it was all CDs then) and started sending them
out to agents, producers and production companies.
Q. How easy
is it to get into the voice over industry?
A. I’ll be honest it’s not easy!
It’s a career choice and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication
and persistence as well as of course talent to make it in this
business. A lot of people think it’s a quick easy way to
make some extra money but I’m afraid it’s not. I absolutely
love it and yes it is a fantastic career but there is a lot more
to be a successful voiceover artist than just having a nice voice.
Q. You went
to Richmond Drama School to study drama, further to being a voice
over artist you are also a professional actress however you seem
to work most often in the voice over field – was this a
conscious decision or just the way your career has panned out
A. It was a conscious decision. 5 years ago I
got married and decided I wanted to start a family soon so I needed
to make some big choices in my life as to how that was going to
work. I had a really good think about my goals and what I actually
wanted to do and I decided that in order to really succeed in
a particular field within the acting world I needed focus. So
looking at my career and what I wanted in my life I decided to
focus all my energy on becoming a full time successful voiceover
artist. I set up a home studio and immersed myself in the voiceover
world. I’m pleased to say it worked.
Q. Are you
still keen to pursue more credits in front of the camera or happier
with a career as the voice behind the lense?
A. Yes I’m just getting back in front of
the camera actually. I love acting and it was my first love so
yes I’ll be back in front of the camera very soon. I’ve
actually started doing radio drama’s which are brilliant!
I’ve just been in The Martian Chronicles on BBC Radio 4
with the lovely Sir Derek Jacobi which was so much fun to work
Q. Is drama
school a help or a hindrance? Or a bit of both? For example is
there a danger it will teach out an actor’s rawness?
A. Drama school ……. It’s such
an interesting question. I did a one year course so I battled
with the should I have done 3 years question, but I was hungry
to get out there and I started booking work pretty quickly. I
think it’s all down to the individual and what works for
one won’t necessarily work for the next person. I really
enjoyed Drama school and I learnt a lot about my voice which is
an important part of how I have got to where I am. Overall I would
say that Drama School is a good thing as you learn a lot, you
gain valuable experience and the name on your CV can help to open
doors. But also if you haven’t or decide not to then I think
that’s fine. Some of the best actors I know didn’t
train at Drama School, so it’s a personal thing. But you
do need to study and keep learning all the time whether you go
to Drama School or not.
Q. You have a huge list
of over 120 professional credits to date which span voice over,
radio, theatre, short films, musicals, TV however you pitch yourself
as a voice over artist as opposed to an actress / voice over artist
– why is this?
A. That comes down to the focus thing. I think
it’s easier to market yourself if you have a specialty or
are an expert in a particular field. I have worked very hard to
get to where I am in the voiceover world. But the actress in me
has been awoken, especially after The Martian Chronicles so I
may be mixing things up soon.
Q. Your voice
has been described as many things including friendly, natural,
young, upbeat, energetic, smooth, urban, sexy, engaging, versatile,
fun, trustworthy, silky and fresh - do you have your voice insured?
A. Eek that’s on my to do list! I really
need to get it insured so thanks for reminding me and I’ll
get on that. It’s so important to look after your voice
as a voiceover artist and as an actor and I have to be very careful
of going to busy bars, watching the football in the pub and shouting
and if someone says they’ve got laryngitis I’m out
the door before you can say ‘it’s probably not contagious
Q. What do
you do to take care of your voice?
A. I make sure I warm up my voice every day.
I think it’s so important and it’s like a runner warming
up so they don’t get an injury. The vocal folds are very
delicate and they can get damaged if they aren’t used correctly.
I also make sure I drink a lot of water, avoid dairy before big
sessions and avoid alcohol the night before sessions too. As I
said I have to be very aware of loud bars etc.
Q. When recording
a voice over do you have to learn your lines or just be very good
at sight reading? Or both?
A. Doing voiceovers you don’t need to learn
any lines, you always read them off the page. There is no advantage
to learning them and you’re better off using your energy
to interpret the copy instead. And yes sight-reading is very important.
Q. What are
your top tips for sight reading?
A. Sight-reading is a very important skill when
it comes to voiceovers and I would say it’s all about practicing.
If you aren’t good at sight-reading start practicing and
reading stuff aloud all the time, the newspaper to your family
and friends, magazine articles anything and just start getting
into the habit of doing it a lot. It’s important to breathe
and confidence is a big factor in sight-reading too. You need
to feel comfortable, confident and focused. Make sure you are
well hydrated and if you need to give yourself a little confidence
boosting pep talk beforehand do it. Oh and start to enjoy it,
if you find it fun, the challenge of it, that comes across in
a positive way.
Q. Talk us
through the process of a voice over, from receiving the script
for the first time to recording.
A. So within voiceovers there are a lot of different
areas of work and they’re all different in terms of the
process. But generally you will be given the script either just
before the session, when you go into a studio or be sent the script
when recording from your home studio. I’ll read through
it a few times, mark it up if it needs it. Then you go into the
booth do a test recording first so the sound engineer can get
levels and off you go. Sometimes you have video of the ad/documentary/promo
to work with so you can see how it will fit. And also sometimes
you get the music to listen to while you record which helps you
to get the right mood/feel/style. Then if it’s a recording
in my home studio I will then listen back and edit out the mistakes
etc. and send it to the client.
voice over artists ever accept unpaid or below equity minimum
A. This is a tough one because there are a lot
of people out there who are ready to take advantage of you. So
I would say you need to be very careful with anything low paid
or free. In this business the low payers are usually the toughest
customers. But I do believe that everyone has to start somewhere
and learn their craft. If you are offered something that’s
low or free get some advice and research if this is something
you want to be a part of. And don’t be afraid to turn work
down if you don’t feel comfortable doing it.
Q. Do voice
over artists have to audition like actors do or are you booked
for roles purely on your voice reel?
A. Mainly I get booked from my showreel for work
which is great. The big jobs usually will want an audition but
a lot of those are paid anyway. In the states it’s all about
auditions, they love auditioning.
do you find most of your work?
A. It’s a mixture between getting work
from my voiceover agent and also getting work myself. I’m
very proactive and I’ve built up a great client base of
regular clients and also clients worldwide. So I do a lot of marketing
and I do find a lot of work myself too.
Q. Are there
many voice over artists on the scene or is it quite a niche industry?
A. It’s an exciting place to be right now
and yes there are quite a few of us, not as many as actors. People
are joining in on the action all the time, even the big A list
actors want in on the voiceover action these days.
Q. How important
is it to have an agent for voice over artist? Do you really even
A. Ok so I get asked this all the time. I would
say it’s really good to have a voiceover agent that you
can work with. They get you the really good gigs and they are
also there to protect you. But I would also say you don’t
have to have an agent to get voiceover work.
Q. If voice
over artists have representation should they accept roles outside
of that relationship?
A. That’s a conversation they need to have
with their agent when they sign with them. Some agents want exclusivity
and some are happy to work with you and understand that you get
your own stuff. The thing about having a home studio is that it
opens up the world for you. I have clients in the States, Dubai,
Australia, Spain, Denmark, South America and more. So for those
I deal with them myself. It’s about working with your agent
and understanding each other.
Q. What would
be the best ever voice over job you would like to work on? A Pixar
A. Yep I’d love to be in big animation
films. They look like a lot of fun and I’ve got friends
who do them so watch this space.
Q. You have
your own home recording studio, can you talk us through your set
A. My home recording studio in a purpose build
booth, about the size of a small telephone box. It’s soundproofed
and acoustically treated. I have a computer monitor which is attached
to my laptop which stays outside the booth due to the noisy fan.
I use a Rode NT2-A mic and a Focusrite Forte preamp. My headphones
are Beyerdynamic DT100’s .
Q. Does having
a hoem studio give you a competitive advantage or just mean a
better work life balance?
A. Having a home studio is fantastic as I can
provide very fast recordings. It also works really well with having
a little one. And it means that I can work with clients worldwide
which is pretty amazing!
Q. You have
a terrific commercial voice, is this nature or nurture?
A. Thank you. I have been working on my voice
for many years now and so I would say it’s a bit of both.
As I mentioned I warm up every day and so I think that really
helps to develop the voice and also the experience I’ve
gained over the years.
Q. What is
the most challenging aspect of being a voice over artist?
A. It’s a brilliant job, best job in the
world I think but it’s also hard work. You have to be very
on the ball and focused when you’re in the booth especially
when working on big campaigns when there is a lot of money involved.
Money is nice but it can also bring pressure. Voiceover work is
usually very last minute so that’s great but it can also
be difficult juggling different jobs.
Q. How important
are networking and contacts in your industry?
A. Networking is massively important in this
industry and there are a lot of changes happening with technology
right now so keeping up to date with what’s going on is
important too. This is why I’ve set up The VoiceOver Network.
It’s a company I set up to bring together voiceover artists,
producers, agents, sound engineers and casting directors in a
supportive and relaxed environment. I run events and drinks once
a month and it’s been a big success. Who you hang around
with matters a lot.
Q. What defines
success in your industry? Making a living as a voice over artist?
Winning a BAFTA or an Oscar?
A. I think everyone has their own definition
of success. Making a living as a voiceover artist used to be mine
and now I’d quite like a BAFTA or an Oscar.
booked because of the quality of your voice and delivery, are
you ever asked to do different accents?
A. I generally do my voiceover voice with variations
on friendly, upbeat, smooth, energetic, intense etc but I do also
do accents and characters especially for computer games and animations
which are so much fun to work on.
Q. The internet
has changed the industry over the past 15 years or so, how important
is it for voice over artists to self-publicise themselves via
their own website and social media presence or is all publicity
best left to your agent?
A. I do a lot of this work myself, and I really
enjoy it. I see myself as an entrepreneur and I have a website,
I do a lot of marketing, social media and PR too. The business
side of things used to scare me as I didn’t study it and
I always thought of it as very serious. But I have embraced the
business side of things and now I love it and I have a lot of
fun with my marketing campaigns and I like to get creative too.
It’s about educating yourself on how things work and keeping
up to date with them too. Social media when used correctly can
be fantastic! But used wrongly can be very damaging.
Q. You have
your own website (www.rachaelnaylor.com)
with your showreel and blog - should every voice over artist have
their own website? Does it bring you much work directly or is
this mainly through your agent?
A. Again this will depend on the individual.
I would say that having a website in this day and age is very
important. As much as Spotlight is great, most people have a website
so get one. It shows that you are professional and it means that
you can self-promote and not have to rely on other people.
Q. How important
is it to have a business card?
A. Very important, again it’s down to looking
professional. And again most people have them. Some of the best
clients I work with have been people I’ve met at weddings
or children’s parties! You never know when the next opportunity
is going to show itself and you need to be ready for it!
Q. What s
the best piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to
become a voice over artist?
A. I would say study, read, do classes / workshops
/ masterclassses, find a voiceover coach and talk to people in
the industry to decide if it’s really the right choice for
you. As I said this is not an easy option but if you do decide
to go down this road and you succeed it is brilliant! You need
to have a professional showreel, a good website and a social media
presence and strategy.
you Rachael, we look forward to hearing more of your talents on
our screens soon.
A. Thank you for having me, it’s been an
Rachael's Contact Details:
Contact: Rachael Naylor
Voiceover Coaching with Rachael
The VoiceOver Network (founded
Rachael's Agent Contact Details:
Agent: Maggie at Babble Voices