After a long hiatus, it’s time to bring back my Talent Profiles series, where I feature some of the everyday heroes of voiceover. Today, I talk with Washington, DC-area talent Brad Hyland about his ascension as a professional voice actor.
What Was Your Background Before Voice Acting?
I spent 34 years in the landscape business management business, which included 34 years of wishing I was a voice actor! It’s amazing how long I waited until I pulled the trigger to become a full-time VO… but I believe things happen for a reason.
I had all the typical responsibilities after getting married which included a mortgage, children, orthodontia, school and college, etc, etc… All the typical things that keep people plugging away at their job… sometimes for a lifetime it seems.
My first training in Voice Over was nearly 30 years ago… but I try not to think negatively of the lost time in not chasing my dream earlier. My first career was a great provider and set the stage for my launch into being a full-time voice actor. I tell lots of newcomers to the business… “Find a way to fall in love with your job again, while you commit every waking hour to develop your new passion…Then when you are trained, ready and able, dive into the Voice Over world.
What got you interested in voice acting?
35 years ago I had a very good friend that told me I should be in Voice Over. At that time I didn’t even know what Voice Over was.
Also …that was way before laptops, the Internet, and home studios.
I was one of those funny guys in high school and college, always doing impersonations and joking around and using my voice in lots of different ways. I also did stand up comedy in college.
After two or three people suggested I look into it… I did just that and started my training.
Describe the process you went through when launching your VO business. Has it been more complicated than you anticipated? Less?
I trained vigorously for over a year with a very good coach and demo producer here in Maryland.
He is still thriving in his business but is now located in Florida. He’s 82 years old and we still stay in touch… and he follows my success closely.
Getting started properly wasn’t easy for me, even though I had all the training and thought I understood everything that was ahead of me. I had the pipes and basic skill set ….and the initial training, but not the appreciation of the overall business development that’s so important, and also didn’t really understand the technology required to be successful in a home studio environment.
There were many hours of paid coaching and training, as well as days and days of watching YouTube videos on how to do just about everything in the business. From learning how to create a quality home studio environment… to editing projects, I probably trained myself more in that first year than any year of my life.
I look back on my first six months and laugh about the things that had me so frustrated I could just about cry!
….also, the training and mentorship that you showed me, J Michael, has been the very best catalyst for my newfound success. Thanks very much for that!
What has been your most interesting/exciting role so far?
I have some amazing customers all around the globe now, with a very wide variety of work so far. I really enjoy commercial projects, both television and radio. I truly love becoming “the voice“ of a company.
My most interesting role so far is being the voice of Santa Claus for the great Christmas brand, Elf On The Shelf. My customer team is fabulous, and when they bring me to Atlanta to record in their studios … it turns into my best day of work ever… every time.
The new animated special “Fox Cubs” will be on TV all throughout the holidays, starting right after Thanksgiving.
What type of work do you find yourself doing most frequently?
Lately, I seem to be booking lots of the “big voice” type work… which I really love to do.
I also book lots of “softer“ versions of that big voice for narration, web usage, instructional video, and e-learning.
Where do you see your career going from here?
It seems that I still learn something new every day, and I’m sure that will continue as long as I stay in the business. I’m very excited to be at my age with a brand new career in front of me that is exciting and rewarding every single day.
I have no plans of retiring, and just want to continue to grow my business every single day.
Also, I don’t mind telling you that I plan to be the voice of some big national brands someday soon. Chevy…. here I come!
For those just starting out, leave them with one key piece of advice
That’s a tough question… Only one key piece of advice? I need to answer in more than one way.
- Don’t skimp on training when you begin. The worst thing you can do for your career is to move too quickly into a demo and then not be able to produce that quality read on your own in your own studio.
- You have to be incredibly dedicated and work very hard. It will not just happen on its own, even if you have great talent and great demos… It takes many months and years to develop a voiceover business that will thrive.
- Learn to accept rejection, and continuously evaluate your product to find ways to improve. If you don’t book a spot…get over it immediately and get on to the next opportunity. There are new ones every day.
- Get very comfortable with marketing yourself. Find a great coach and learn how to be a business person right from the get-go
- And finally, audition, audition, audition…. throw as many broadcast quality, perfectly performed, and produced auditions out there as you can every day…that’s what it takes to gain traction towards building a solid customer base.