What does a tall person sound like? How about someone who’s wise? Can you hear the difference between blue and green eyes?
Most people see images in their mind’s eye when hearing a voice.
But the sound of the voice doesn’t always seem to match the look of the person speaking.
What an actor can do with his or her voice can be mysterious and deceiving (though with the best of intentions); and how we connect to the sound of the spoken word affects our perception of the speaker. Think for a moment about seeing an animated film with an actor you’re familiar with, does knowing who that person is or what s/he looks like stay with you, perhaps preventing you from embracing the character within the story?
This is why many voice actors debate whether or not to post pictures of themselves on their websites. We make judgments about people when we see them, (read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink! for more on the interesting topic), and often don’t give them the benefit of the doubt regarding the range of their capabilities.
Many years ago a branding consultant advised me to color my hair to hide the silver that was ‘salting’ my dark brown locks. His rationale was: “When casting directors, agents or clients see you, they’ll think of you as that ‘aging woman’ when in fact your voice range is 35-45. Don’t let them pigeonhole you— their idea of your look might be stronger than the lingering memory of your sound, so don’t let them miscast you!”
Made sense to me. So I spent the next 10 years hitting the bottle— of dye… I wanted the physical and audio package to be consistent. Another piece I added was dressing the part…. From studio auditions to sessions to business meetings, I was always well dressed– never in jeans or looking sloppy. And the clothes matched my color branding… red, white, grey and black. It’s a subtle subliminal message in selling the vessel that holds the voice — I’m consistent, put together, professional (one of the most overused and under-serving words), and serious about my work, (yet playful in person)!
But a change is in the air, and although my photos don’t show it yet, I’ve been exploring the significance of letting my grey hang out— of which there seems to be more than expected! But does it matter what I look like? I believe, as long as I sound great and am true to my word, my clients will keep coming back for more. Don’t you agree?