We chatted with Master VO coach and characters expert, Elaine Clark, to find out how she got into the industry, current trends in character VO and what students can expect from working with her, here at BRAVA:
*If you prefer to listen to the whole of the interview scroll down and listen
Elaine - how did you get started? Tell us about your route in?
I became a voice actor in 1980, starting with commercials so have worked in this industry for 42 years! Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was able to ride the wave of technology and soon became involved in corporate narration. I started a voice-over and acting school in 1986 that I successfully ran for 32 years. Alongside my VO journey, I got involved in voicing, casting, and directing toy voices.
When the video game started expanding in the mid-90s, I started voicing a ton of video games and soon started casting and directing games for companies too, including Sega and Sony and other companies that eventually merged into Electronic Arts, as well as other large video game companies. Soon after, I started directing anime and local animation series. I was recommended to a New York publisher and was given a contract to write the very first voice-over training book in 1995. I was on the ground floor again in the video game world when it expanded into mobile games. This time acting, casting, and recording the voices. Now I continue to work in various capacities of video games, animation, and toys as well as virtual reality and AI.
How did you get into character work?
As a theatre major, my love was always character acting. When the video game industry started growing, I was thrilled to get involved in it first as an actor and later in casting and directing.
How has the world of character VO changed over the last 40 years?
Each year, the voice acting has become much more realistic.
We're thrilled that you teach exclusively in the UK through BRAVA and that you run our popular Character Foundation Class - what can people expect from working with you?
Students can expect a fun and nurturing environment with lots of specific coaching adjustments and even more laughter. It's a joy to work with the talented actors at BRAVA.
What are the current trends in character VO?
There's a huge gamer fan base. That thirst needs to be quenched with innovative play and nuanced acting.
What would your advice be to someone thinking of starting out on their VO journey?
I believe that the journey of acting begins with the voice. Learning to use the voice to create a character creates a framework for fun and play.
What does it really take to make it in this industry?
Commitment and perseverance. Good, solid training provides a foundation for trust and creative choices.
You inspire so many. Who do you admire most in the industry today?
I admire anyone who is willing to put themselves out there and follow their dream. I learn as much from the established voice actors as I do from the new crop of voice actors who are willing to take chances.
How do you feel about collaborating and working with BRAVA?
I have always strived toward excellence as an actor, director, and coach. The quality, dedication, and work ethic of the BRAVA students is outstanding. After working with this talented group of actors, I decided to teach exclusively in the UK with BRAVA. Melissa Thom and I share similar values in business, coaching, and performance. I admire BRAVA’s boutique personal approach to support and guide voice actors to do their best and exceed their goals. BRAVA's students book jobs! And that's what it's all about.
What have you noticed about working with British actors?
The actors I've worked with at BRAVA understand the importance of acting when performing voice-overs, especially video games. They're hard working and push themselves to try new things. It's never easy working in front of peers, but the camaraderie and support the students develop is very special.
We also hosted a **UK exclusive** when you visited to run our video games training here in Bristol in July. What did participants learn from working with you on the day and what specific skills did they develop?
We created a fun and nurturing environment, with lots of specific coaching adjustments and even more laughter. They immersed themselves into creating a complete set of characters and scenes for a video game, as well as experiencing the realities of recording a game. The day was also a way to connect the learning dots so the actor understands the team effort that really goes into making a game.
Students developed a whole range of skills - they learned how physicality, posture, and stance impacts the voice performance and character development. We built characters by layering personality traits, as well as incorporating imagination, situation, letter focus, and mic technique. We also looked at how to make performance adjustments based on the style of character work and how creating an environment gives each student the permission to play builds trust and confidence. It really was a mind-blowing experience!
Join our Characters Foundation Course here.