Do You Have What It Takes To Become A Professional Voice Actor? Let’s Ask One!

Chatting With Barry Yandell, A Professional Voice Actor!


Reagan Woody, Reporter

When you hear the words “Entertainment Industry,” many things may come to mind. You may think of recent blockbuster movies fresh out of the studios from Hollywood, or stellar theatre productions such as local plays or hit Broadway shows. Stage and film acting are the most commonly recognized forms of acting. But while these two types of acting make up a big chunk of the entertainment industry, there is another crucial part to it that is less talked about. This less known component of the showbiz world is voice acting. 

Voice acting, or voice-overs, is the art of using one’s  voice to display information to an audience, or to portray characters. As a professional voice actor, one would supply their voice for professional clips of audio work. Typically, one can see voice acting in media such as animated Disney or Pixar movies, informative documentaries, video games, or in Japanese Media, more commonly known as anime. 

When some people think of voice acting, they may think it is easy. While voice acting may seem simplistic to the viewer, it takes a lot of hard work, patience, dedication, and practice to work professionally as a voice actor. However, with the right amount of training, perseverance, and the right attitude, anyone can become one!

Recently, I interviewed Barry Yandell, who has been a professional stage and voice actor since 1998. Yandell currently provides his voice for anime shows produced by FUNimation and OkraTron 5000, which are large companies devoted to dubbing and distributing English versions of Japanese anime. During his time at FUNimation and OkraTron 5000, Yandell has voiced many iconic characters in popular animes, such as William T. Spears from Black Butler, Little Demon from Soul Eater, Mr. 2 Bon Clay from One Piece, Bob from Fairy Tales, The God of Marriage from Jiang Ziya, and Yoki from FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. 

Along with appearances in English dubbed anime, Yandell has also found work by voicing audio recordings for roller coasters in Six Flags Over Texas, and by voicing characters in video games. You can hear Yandell’s voice appear in many popular games, such as Moori from Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, and Wilhelm’s Interviewer in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! Yandell is also an entrepreneur and takes pride in running two Air B and B homes. 

An array of anime characters who have Barry Yandell as their English dub voice actor.

Being both talented and experienced in the realm of stage and voice acting, Yandell shares his thoughts and advice on what it takes to work as a professional voice actor, and what his experience in the voice acting world has been like for him. 

“Both voice acting and stage acting are great. Non-voice acting me is definitely more challenging because I have to be seen. While acting on stage, you’re very physical,” said Yandell. “I enjoy both acting and voice acting for different reasons. For voice acting, I especially enjoy the fandom, comic-cons, and the excitement that people have for my TV shows and movies, but as far as stage acting and performing, I like the euphoria that I feel when I actually go into character, because you do not see Barry Yandell anymore. You see the character that I am playing,” said Yandell.

The preparation for voice acting and stage acting also differ from each other. While stage acting requires more thorough preparation, voice acting happens more on the spot. 

 “When in the recording booth for voice acting, the only feedback I get before the shows come out is from the director and the engineer. There is no preparation for voice acting like there is for stage acting. I don’t need to memorize lines, I do not have blocking, and I do not necessarily have to learn music. We do not have scripts. When you get into the booth to dub anime, the engineers will play the Japanese version for you so that you get a feel for the scene. Then, you begin recording your own voice to fit the English version,” said Yandell. 

Yandell shares that he had some special moments in his life that helped get him into the career he is into today. 

“The most helpful life experience in becoming an actor was two things. First, when I was born, my parents worked at a children’s home. I have a biological sister, but I was raised with around thirteen kids in the house. I was constantly having to share my parents with other kids. I was constantly fighting for their attention, so I was performing, and doing this and that,” said Yandell. “And then, I had always been a little bit of a performer and a singer, but I really didn’t take to theatre until I was a freshman in high school.” 

Yandell was first introduced to the theatre arts right before entering high school.

“When I was in 8th grade, all the graduating middle schoolers took a trip to the high school to have a ‘Middle School goes to High School’ sort of thing, and there were different tables set up to try and get you to take different classes. I walked around with a friend. As we walked around we came up to the drama table. I met this really dynamic girl who talked to me and my friend, and she said, ‘Have y’all ever thought about taking drama?’ And I thought ‘Well what’s that?’ We thought that all you did in drama was sit around on stools and read poetry, which is a possibility, but there was so much more to it. After listening to the girl for a bit, I looked at my friend, and we thought ‘Why not take it,” said Yandell.

Chatting with Barry Yandell via Zoom.

That single moment at the “Middle School goes to High School” helped Yandell discover his talent, and awaken his interest in acting. 

“We started going to these drama tournaments and we kept winning and winning. I started to realize to myself that I had talent. By the time I ended high school, I was voted class favorite for most talented, and I even got to sing at graduation and prom. People were giving me some respect,” said Yandell. 

Yandell also believes that whenever you have an opportunity that can change your life for the better, that you should jump on it and see where it takes you. 

“At that “Middle School goes to High School”, I took an opportunity that was given to me, and that’s an important life lesson. One day, you may have an opportunity to hop onto something that will change your life. And that day at the “Middle School Goes to High School”, that girl changed my life. It’s amazing,” said Yandell. 

Along with taking that special opportunity, Yandell also has one special philosophy that has helped him grow successful in his career. 

“Something that inspires me is this one philosophy that I am a huge fan of, and it’s changed my life. It is a book, and it is called The Secret, written by Rhonda Byrne. It has to do with gratitude and designing your own destiny. You’re the author of your own story. You’re the composer of your own song. The artist of your own painting. And so much in life tells us, “Oh well. This is what my life is supposed to be. I guess I’ll just have to deal with that.” And if you think that way, you are going to work fast food for the rest of your life,” said Yandell. “ But if you think, “No. I do have dreams, and I’m going to go for my dreams,” knowing full well that you may not accomplish all of them, that’s okay,” says Yandell. “No one is perfect. Nobody is that powerful. But, since I’ve kind of put this into philosophy into practice, it’s totally changed my life and I’ve experienced success beyond belief both as an actor and as an entrepreneur.”   

Though voice acting presents certain challenges like any job would, Yandell always reminds himself about how much he loves his job. 

“Sometimes, whenever I’m tired, or I am hot in the booth, I remind myself ‘Dude, be grateful. You’re getting paid a good amount of money for making silly voices and making people happy. It’s great. I love that I can do it all.”  said Yandell.

When coming up with voices for characters, Yandell takes different approaches to provide each character he plays with their own unique voice. 

“As far as what inspires some of my characters, some people ask ‘How do you come up with the voices you come up with?’ It’s hard to explain, but kind of comes out like a belch. But sometimes I like to channel people’s voices. And for my role as the Little Demon from Soul Eater, while I try not to copy anyone’s voice, I do channel two actor’s voices. One actor I channel is Burgess Meredith, and he was in Rocky. I channeled that voice, along with the voice of Mercedes McCambridge, and she was an actor on western shows in the ‘40s and ‘50s, but she’s most famous for being the voice of the demon in The Exorcist,”said Yandell. 

While some roles are easier to play than others, each one presents its own unique characteristics that an actor must adapt their voice to. But while voice acting can pose a challenge when trying to act different characters out, it can also have a physical effect on the actor themself.

“The most challenging role I’ve ever voiced was from a show called Hanebado, and all I ever did in that show was scream. The show is about a girl who plays badminton, and I played the main character’s coach,” said Yandell. “I was on the court, off the court, and all I did was scream at the main character. I was so mean. And so I was having to scream so much and my director said ‘I’m worried about your voice because you’re having to scream so much. Do you need to take a break?’ And I said that I would take a break, but it wasn’t for my voice. My voice doesn’t hurt. I just have this extreme headache. The more I yell, the more it hurts.” said Yandell. 

As much as Yandell enjoyed working on Hanebado, he was thrilled when the show was completed. 

“Whenever I finish voicing a character, or when a series is completed, I feel rather sad,” said Yandell. “I always feel accomplished whenever I finish a role. But with Hanebado, I was so glad it was over because of all the killer headaches.”

Yandell says that the voice acting community is one of the most supportive places a person can be. With tons of fun happening in the booths with the directors and engineers, Yandell loves the supportive atmosphere that the voice recording studios provide. 

“I feel like I go to therapy after I leave a recording session at Funimation or Okratron 5000 because the people there say, ‘You’re so brilliant,’ or ‘You’re my favorite villain’ and all that. Everyone, and I mean everyone that I’ve worked with or worked for in the voice acting world is just so nice. And in my experience, it’s not competitive. There is no backstabbing each other, and everyone just seems like genuine people,” said Yandell. 

For people wanting to become professional voice actors, Yandell shares some tips and advice on how to make your dream come true. 

“If you’re thick-skinned, don’t go into entertainment. Now, in the world of acting, it’s all about being rejected. But, you want to look at each rejection as an opportunity for growth. This time just may not be right for you. With each rejection, there’s just always someone better.”  said Yandell. “But, if you can get to the idea that rejection is not personal, and not a personal judgment of you, then that allows more room for growth.” 

Before becoming a voice actor, it’s beneficial to get as much acting experience as you can.

“One thing that would be beneficial when trying to get into voice acting, is to get as much experience in musical theatre as possible,” said Yandell. “Getting active in theatre classes at school, or participating in local theatre productions can just be so beneficial. I got experience from high school theatre. I also used to YouTube master classes for musical theatre to help my understanding of it. Taking lessons in musical theatre or voice acting would also be useful.”

When trying to book any role in the entertainment industry, auditions can definitely be an unnerving part when trying to find work. With Yandell having an immense amount of knowledge that deals with auditions, he has a good bit of advice. When it comes time to audition, you must be willing to take safe risks. 

“When it comes to auditions, you must be willing to take safe risks. We’re raised to be motivated by our insecurities. But one of the most common insecurities is that little voice you hear in the back of your head,” said Yandell. “Sometimes, before an audition, you can hear it saying ‘Oh don’t screw up, don’t look stupid, you’re are probably not going to get this, you have the slightest chance.’ So if you can switch those voices, whether it’s true or not, and you hear the voice that says ‘I am perfect for this role’, or ‘Wait until the judges see how impressive I am’, or ‘Just wait and see how blown away they will be by my audition’, it will make a big difference in your audition,” said Yandell. 

That positive state of mind can play a huge role in successfully booking the part you want. When trying to create a positive and encouraging mindset before an audition, there is one thing you want to avoid. You want to aim for a confident mindset, rather than a cocky mindset. 

“It’s just a state of mind, and it makes a difference in your audition. It has to do with confidence. Not cockieness, but confidence,” said Yandell. “Confidence has a whole lot to do with an audition, because the more confident you get, the more willing you are to take safe risks. Also, if you have to audition with a monologue or a song, and you don’t really know the lyrics or you’re not off-book, that is going to make you more and more nervous. If you’re overly prepared, you’re going to go in and blow them away.”. 

While being skilled in your craft as an actor is important, there are a few other factors that would benefit you to keep booking work. When going back to having a positive mindset, you also always want to have a positive attitude and be easy to work with. 

“While talent is necessary to book work, not being a diva, and being fun in the booth while being professional is a must,” said Yandell. “I honestly think that I’m used over and over again because I am professional, I show up on time, I am fun to work with, and I’m humble. That’s what also gets me bookings at cons. So being humble, and not being a diva is so important. Skill is important. Some of it can be taught, and some of it you either have or you don’t. But along with skill, being easy to work is super important.”

Along with working as a voice actor, Yandell also loves to teach middle school theatre classes. Yandell also finds joy in participating in con panels and leading acting workshops. Yandell also plans to open a store with anime merchandise in the near future. Along with that, Yandell also has some big goals for the next few years. 

“Some of my agents are trying to push me to Disney and Pixar. I feel like in the next few years I will accomplish that. I also think that I will make my Broadway debut even if it is as towns person number 3. Another goal in the next year and a half is to buy my third Air B and B home. And then if comic-cons would pick back up, that would help a whole lot.” said Yandell.

To hear a sampling of Barry Yandell’s voice in action, you can check out his vocal demo reel here! To learn more about Yandell, you can visit his Instagram at @barryyandell. You can also visit his Facebook and Twitter, which is listed under the name “Barry Yandell Voice Actor.”, or you can check out his IMDb here. If you are interested in meeting Barry Yandell at your local comic-con, you can visit that specific con page and fill out the forms to request him there.