Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone starts out on equal footing.
Are you making consistent mistakes when you record a script? Does reading straight off the page feel like grasping at bubbles blowing in the wind?
Dyslexia is very common. It’s estimated that 10% of the population are dyslexic, which just means that their brains process information differently. It’s just that your mind sings a different tune when it comes to literacy, memory, and concentration.
A life with dyslexia doesn’t mean you won’t make it! Countless people with dyslexia have gone on to enjoy very successful careers. Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Leonardo da Vinci, and Pablo Picasso are shining examples of people who thrived in their field despite dyslexia.
But how do you make it as a voice actor with dyslexia? Read to find out!
Tips from dyslexic voice over artists
Tom Cruise, the star of Mission Impossible and Top Gun, was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 7 years old. For the first few decades of his life, he referred to himself as a “functionally illiterate.” Despite his dyslexia, he went on to achieve a successful career in Hollywood. This serves as evidence that individuals with dyslexia can navigate around it and achieve anything they set their minds to.
Have a look at some tips from accomplished individuals who did not allow dyslexia to impede the pursuit of their passions.
Rick MacIvor – Voice Actor
Rick was diagnosed with dyslexia in junior high school. Today, he is an award-winning voice actor and a 2019 International Emmy nominee for an animated series.
His voice is described as professional, sincere, warm, and conversational. Rick uses some strategies to read his scripts for voice over projects without difficulty.
Here are some tips from Rick Maclvor.
Change your font to OpenDyslexic
The beauty of digital media is that it allows for immense customisation at the click of a button. Changing font is a simple way to rework letters to be friendlier to dyslexic perceptions. This is one of the methods Rick MacIvor uses; he says:
“Usually, I receive scripts via email in a text format, which allows me to effortlessly copy and paste the text into Word and modify the font to OpenDyslexic. This approach is effective for me because it emphasizes the lower part of the letters, making them less likely to appear flipped or transposed. Dyslexic individuals often confuse letters like ‘d’ and ‘b’, resulting in word transposition. Therefore, when the font is weighted towards the bottom, it helps me to read the text more easily.”
Mark your script
Mark recommends that if you’re new to voice over work, it’s a good idea to find a free voice over script that you can use to record a demo and refine your skills. Once you’ve obtained the script, print a copy and mark it up. This was a strategy that he found to be extremely helpful when first starting out in the industry.
The first step is to identify the spots where your breaths are. Locate the phrases where you need to inhale and use a double railroad slash “//” to indicate them. Keep adding this symbol next to each phrase where you take a breath.
In addition, be on the lookout for phrases or words that are linked together by “and” or “to,” and enclose them in parentheses. This will help your brain recognise that these words should be spoken together.
For example, if there’s this sentence in a script:
“Vehicles destined for American drivers and roads should be shaped by the people who know them best.”
Mark will edit the script like this,
“Vehicles destined for (American drivers and roads) should be shaped by the people who know them best. //”
Use your body
It may seem strange, and you might be wondering how you can use your body when you’re reading words while wrapped up in a blanket. Mark recommends trying this technique when you’re in a booth for recording. When in the recording booth, mark says “I find it helpful to raise my hand and move it slowly forward as I read each line.”
This technique serves two purposes for him:
“Firstly, it prevents me from emphasizing certain words and phrases incorrectly. When you read, your voice tends to rise and fall repeatedly, which can harm voice over work. By moving my hand forward, I can stay on track and remember the proper intonation.
Secondly, it allows me to remain grounded in the present moment and avoid getting too caught up in my thoughts, which can be especially challenging when dealing with dyslexia. Sometimes, when I’m reading aloud, my inner dialogue kicks in and causes me to stumble over words. However, by physically moving my hand, I can stay focused and deliver the copy smoothly.”
Taking the time to read things out loud is such an important idea for a voice actor with dyslexia. Reading scripts aloud prior to recording can be helpful in retaining information or even just ensuring that everything makes sense when spoken.
In the voice over industry, this strategy is even more essential. Mark says “Before recording my final take, I read my script aloud three times to allow my mind to internalize the best way to deliver each sentence. I may stumble over some of the words on the first read-through, but I continue reading again to overcome any wandering thoughts. This exercise serves as a warm-up for both my tongue and my mind.”
Timothy Banfield – Animation Voice Over Artist
Timothy Banfield has been a voice actor for over 9 years and a comedian for 8 years. Portraying characters and making people laugh is his motto in life.
Timothy’s voice is described as young, charismatic, fresh, and heroic.
Here’s a tip from Timothy Banfield.
Use Text-to-speech chrome extension
Having any kind of reading disability and doing it for a living sounds virtually impossible. It can sound like a match made in Hell – but Timothy has some advice that has helped him overcome the challenges and find success as a voice over talent.
“I’m horribly dyslexic. I see letters that aren’t there or sometimes don’t see letters that are there. There’s a miscommunication between my eyes and my brain and the understanding when it comes to letters, words, and numbers.”
“One of the things that help me beat this difficulty is the Google Chrome extension text-to-speech for dyslexia.
Whenever someone sends me a PDF, I pull that up as a page on Google and then highlight areas that I’m confused about or stuff that I’m not sure I’m reading correctly. The extension reads the highlighted sentences to me in a flat monotone. So it’s not forcing my brain to perceive the inflexion or the style. It’s just giving me the words flat.
There are many incredible tools for dyslexics which read out text, break up syllables, and increase spaces between lines and letters. You can use those tools to simplify your script.”
All Voices have the power to make a mark
Just like Rick and Timothy, you can also make a successful career in voice over despite being dyslexic. Voquent offers a platform for aspiring voice actors like you to showcase your talent and let your voice be heard by the world. We welcome all types of people because we admire talent, and we believe that your life’s circumstances don’t define your path; you have the power to chart your own course.
-Written by Madiha Jamal, from Hypabeez
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