One of the best in the industry and a top voice on the ProComm Voices roster, Lindsay Ayliffe has been winning clients over with his voice for years. He took a few moments to share his experiences in the voice over biz for our latest feature…
1. How long have you been in the voice over business and what got you started?
I’ve been doing VO’s full time since 1994. Ten years prior to that, I worked as a copywriter for various ad agencies and did a lot of in-house VO’s (I hate those in-house guys now, right?). In my last job working for an ad agency, I was the Senior Copywriter/Associate Creative Director on a large restaurant account. Once I realized the voice actors I hired were having way more fun (and making more money) than I was, that was the end of being an employee. My first professional gig was through ProComm. Annie Lalley and I were booked to play Rhett and Scarlett for a pizza chain in Athens, Georgia. I was so excited that I rented Gone With The Wind to make sure I nailed the accent, and found out — to mah evahlastin’ suhprahz — that NOT ONCE did Clark Gable speak in a Southern accent in the entire film.
2. How would you characterize your style, sound, or signature read?
“Warm. Positive. Life is good and I’m just happy to be here.”
3. Have you had any interesting, unique, funny or scary experiences while voicing that you can recall?
Once, I played a tough, blue-collar termite for a pest-control company. I literally had to chew through an entire bag of pretzels while I talked.
Once, I was a vest on a radio spot for a men’s clothing store. Pin-striped.
Once, I was asked to sound “taller”. Seriously.
Once, I auditioned for the part of George Jetson in a radio spot and ad-libbed a dog bark just for fun. I didn’t get George, but I got an SFX fee for Astro. And a renewal a year later…
I’ve been the voice of water at a water park.
I’ve screeched like a velociraptor for an insurance spot.
I’ve been an “interior designer” for a mall spot. (That coded description got a big laugh from my gay brother.)
Scary experiences? Any session that consisted of multiple, unnecessary takes on a “screamer” script. I love what I do, but I don’t have a spare set of vocal cords.
4. Do you have any heroes, mentors or others in the business that you look up to or have influenced you?
When I worked as a copywriter on the Winn-Dixie account in Jacksonville Florida, we often hired a local voice actor named Cochrane Keating. He had the smoothest, most natural baritone voice I’d ever heard and his attitude made every session a pleasure. I don’t have those pipes but I do my best to emulate his good nature & professionalism.
5. What is the best advice you can offer people who are just getting started?
Talent and availability are the two most important assets — not necessarily in that order. Go on ProComm’s website and listen to the talent. If you can do better or have a completely unique voice, make a demo and send it in. If you’re lucky enough to get signed, make sure you’re available all day long, every week, year ‘round. Oh, and say “YES” to every scheduling request. (You can go on vacation once you’re established.)
6. What would you be doing if you were not a voiceover talent?
You mean a real job? Hmm. Copywriting was always a pleasure, so I’d write more. If money’s no object, I’d immerse myself into learning how to compose electronic/techno music. I’m a big fan of Moby, Zero 7, et al.
7. What is the most important thing you’ve learned since you started in this industry?
I’ll make it plural…the most important things:
Take care of your voice – and ears – like a violinist takes care of his fingers. It’s all you’ve got.
Return emails, texts, and voicemails as quickly as possible.
Be easy to work with.
There are no guarantees.
8. Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes. I was a client before I was a talent, so I know what I’m talking about here:
My main job as a voice actor is to make each session the easiest part of my client’s day. That’s what relieves her stress and makes her happy. Which means she calls ProComm again. Which means ProComm calls me again. Which means I get to keep doing the thing I love.