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  • Writer's pictureTim Maylander

How my educational background prepared me to be a voice actor

Updated: Jan 17

I didn't know I was going to be a voice actor right away. The thought didn't even cross my mind until after my collegiate career was done. Yet ever since 7th grade, I've been using my vocal skills in a professional way. But outside of a production I did in fourth grade and some work with my church at the time, I didn't have any experience in theater in school. You might find this surprising for someone who would later become a voice actor, but that doesn't mean I went through my younger years in education without using and honing my voice. As a middle and high schooler, I participated in speech and debate - a co-curricular that I credit much of my future success to and heartily recommend for all students. As a speech competitor, I participated in many events - special occasion, domestic & international extemporaneous speaking and original oratory just to name a few. But my favorite event was radio broadcasting, where you were given a packet of stories and had to pull at least one local, national and international news story, plus sports, weather and even an advertisement - and deliver it in a five-minute (on the dot!) radio show. I loved this event because it allowed me to read stories in a clear, concise way while at the same time adding my own personality and flair to them, all with just my voice. As a debater, I started off in policy debate but quickly found that Lincoln-Douglas debate was more my style. My senior year I not only qualified for the national tournament, I made it to the final round of 64 at said tournament.

As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, one of my three majors was communications with an emphasis in journalism (the other two were political science and environmental policy & planning with an emphasis in policy). I loved going to a smaller school because it allowed me to participate in so many events that I wouldn't have been able to at a larger institution. My very first semester at college I was already working on the school paper, something that wouldn't have happened until my junior year at a 1A research university. I worked on that newspaper - The Fourth Estate - all four years of my undergraduate career, and the two years I was an editor/manager of the paper were the only two years it won "Best of the Midwest" from the Associated Collegiate Press in the history of the publication. But I didn't limit myself to just print journalism - I quickly got involved in broadcast as well. We had a campus TV station which broadcasted on all TV's at the college (both in the dorms and in educational buildings), and again as a freshman I found myself involved front and center, anchoring the sports show "On The Ball." I did some remote broadcasts and pieces as well, and was a sideline reporter for a Horizon League Championship game for our women's basketball team. By my junior year, I wanted to try something new, and I hosted the late-nigh show "Jaded Nights." Here I had my own monologue, interviewed guests, played in-studio games and even created my own top ten lists - virtually everything you'd expect in a late night TV show. I had a ton of fun with it, and absolutely loved my time on the show. My senior year I was asked to go back to the sports show for an "Around the Horn" style segment, and I enjoyed combining my debate skills with my broadcast ones. One of the other reasons I took a step back with the TV side of things was because my senior year was when our dream of a campus radio station became a reality. Through the magic of internet radio WGBX was born, and I became the news editor for the station. I had some of my own shows covering sports and politics, and I helped others with their shows in my department. It was such a fin and unique way to end my collegiate career, and a perfect full-circle moment for all those hours I spent preparing my radio pieces in high school.

After some time away from school to work in professional fields (more on that in other posts), I went back to school for my Master's degree. I was accepted into the University of Missouri's prestigious journalism school, one of the top two (and in my humble and totally unbiased opinion the best) journalism schools in the nation. Besides its national ranking in my field, one of the things that drew me to Mizzou was its program called convergence journalism. The idea here was that modern journalists need to be a jack-of-all-trades. Gone are the days when publishers would have a reporter, photographer, videographer and producer as separate positions - for better or for worse, the modern journalist would be expected to do all those things, and the convergence program at Mizzou emphasized preparing students for this new reality. Convergence also prepared students to work in different fields of journalism - so while I primarily wrote for the Columbia Missourian (publishing over 80 stories in my time at Mizzou with multiple front page bylines), I also produced stories for NPR affiliate KBIA, worked on packages for NBC affiliate KOMU and even did my own writing, shooting and producing through a class where all we were allowed to use were phones and tablets. Needless to say, MU gave me multiple avenues to use my voice, and it is one of the greatest achievements in my life to have earned my Master's Degree from this prestigious institution.

Suffice it to say, my educational background has prepared me well for a career in voice acting, even though it's not where I thought I would end up. I'm so grateful to all my previous instructors and friends I made throughout my years in education for getting me to where I am today and for training me to be the best narrator/voice actor I can be (even if they didn't know that's what they were doing).

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