From Kristen Bell’s voice narration in Gossip Girl, to radio shows, podcasts, public service announcements, commercials, explainer videos, eLearning content, and just about every facet of American-made media under the sun, American female voiceover artists drive a plethora of industries forward. And most people outside of the voiceover industry might never notice.
As an American female voiceover artist who’s been in the industry for more than 30 years, I’ve been asked to emulate different kinds of American accents more times than I could count. So many times in fact, that it got me to thinking from the point of view of a consumer:
Who exactly are American female voice actors, and what sets them apart from other voice talents?
- Who Are American Female Voice Over Artists?
- When to Hire Female Voice Over Talent
- What an American Female Voice Over Artist Brings to the Table
- A Matter of Representation – The Power of the Female Voice
- Places American Female Voice Over is Most Often Used
- American Female Voice Over in TV and Film
- A-List American Female Voice Actors You Know and Love
- Five Great Television Characters You Wouldn’t Suspect Were American Female Voice Actors
- How to Find Professional American Female Voice Talent
Who Are American Female Voice Actors?
Whether it’s the girl next door with that classic American sound, the friendly voice of a beloved childhood character, a subtle-to-neutral accent heard over an app, or the whimsical narration of a high school gossip blog, American female voice over artists play a vital role in the media we consume each and every day. Even if you don’t live within the U.S, American female voice actors have become standard many countries strive to match and set the pace for other female voice talents to follow.
They use regional dialects to convey the background of different characters, employing accents and sound effects that are easily recognizable to the unique audiences that shape the American landscape. From A-List celebrities, to lesser-known voice actors with a prolific presence in the industry, female voice actors permeate the media we consume in ways, and places the average person might not expect.
When to Hire American Female Voiceover Talent
If you’re planning on recording audio for tv commercials, business videos, phone prompts or a virtual reality guide, you might be wondering ‘when is the best time to hire an American female voiceover actor?’ The truth is, if you’re recording content for an American audience, there’s never a bad time; available female voices make up more than half the market and several studies have shown that people prefer the sound of the female voice.
People Prefer the Sound of the Female Voice
Whether it comes from a subconscious gender-bias, or the fact that the first consistent voice we hear from the time before we’re born is a female one, the reality is that we respond better to female voices – and professional female voice actors know how to embody that gentle and nurturing tone we’re all subconsciously expecting to hear.
Female voice actors make it easier to understand and learn; they convey the script in a subtle manner that comes off more like a friendly voice than an instructor or salesperson.
Looking at the American market, and countries that consume American media, it makes up one of (if not) the largest demographics in the world, and most of those consumers are subconsciously expecting to hear female voice over.
So from a marketing perspective, no matter what your project might be, there is never a bad time to work with professional female voice over talent.
What an American Female Voice Over Artist Brings to the Table
What Sets Professional American Female Voice Actors Apart
Female voices are everywhere – and the voice talents we hire need to reflect that. When a corporate firm needs to convey a message to shareholders or advertisers that want to market a specific product in their commercial, it only makes sense that they work with a voice actor who accurately represents the target audience they’re trying to reach. With that in mind, more than half of the market is female – yet the representation we see in the media is a far cry from the real story.
Different Regional Accents
How many different American accents do you think there are? Two, maybe three?
The answer might surprise you.
While there are three major overarching regional accents confirmed throughout the United States, (Southern, General American, and New England), social scientists have managed to catalog more than 24 distinct regional dialects across the country – and the list keeps growing.
American Female Voiceover Talents Understand Colloquialisms
Where traditional visual artists work at casting the nuances of human form and figure to a physical medium, voice artists have the unique ability to transmute the intangible into a performance using their voices alone.
When you want to convey the appropriate tone in a regional ad or radio commercial; tell a home-town story or write a life-like character with a believable back-story, it’s essential to work with professional female voiceover talent. They not only understand the colloquialisms of the people you’re trying to reach, but can help you understand them as well.
Casting directors, script-writers and authors alike all understand the importance of working with American female voiceover talent and will often consult them for accuracy when considering their next big recording project.
At their core, female voice artists are exactly that – artists – and artists know how to intrinsically speak to the human spirit. It’s about so much more than reading words off of a script; it’s about bringing that script to life in the eyes and ears of your target audience.
Great Professional Female Voice Over Artists Have Access to Every Major American Accent
It’s hard to imagine the sheer breadth of it, but every small town has its own unique colloquialisms and semantic differences; each with its own distinct take on how a word might be used or pronounced.
When you think about it, that’s a lot for any one person to keep track of, but it’s the quintessential job of any consummate professional female voice talent to have mastery over all of the American accents. Because the American voice over industry tends to favor male voice actors over female ones, (despite female voices resonating more deeply with consumers) it leaves a highly competitive vacuum for female voiceover talent to fill.
In a nutshell, this means that the average female voice artist in the US needs to be twice as prepared for an audition because they only have access to a third of the roles.
Reach Your Target Audience with Professional Female Voice Talent
A professional voice actress knows how to speak to all of your target audience.
From a marketing perspective, working with a great voice actress is the key to reaching potential clients and customers; when the voice is a perfect fit for the job, the script has an opportunity to convey a sense of real life.
A Matter of Representation – The Power of the American Female Voiceover
According to a 2022 study, an average of 70.8% of voice actors in the U.S. that work consistently are male, while only 29.2 % are female voice actors. Given that half of any target audience is female, it simply doesn’t make sense that female voice talents make up less than a third of representation in the media. Female voices make up half the market, yet tv commercials, explainer videos, radio, corporate video content, business videos and anything that involves voice over, somehow fails to reflect real life. Throughout my 30 years in the industry as a professional female voiceover actor, I’ve experienced firsthand just how difficult it is to cut it in the voice acting world.
Women in voiceover need to fight twice as hard for less than a third of voice acting jobs. It breeds an undo sense of competition that eclipses what the standard should be for a typical audition.
The process should be seamlessly equal – especially given the fact that female voice talents make on average 10% less than male voice actors. Casting directors and scriptwriters need to keep an open mind and listen to real life scenarios before holding auditions for a voiceover job; whatever the content might be, it needs to be a representation of real life, and not a caricature of it. If the industry is allowed to be left unchanged, unchallenged and unaware of its systemic flaws, real progress can never be made.
Places American Female Voiceover is Most Often Used
Whether it’s an AI assistant, that trademarked girl next door voice over narration we hear in a lot of CW series, or the voice behind an eLearning video – people have an easier time paying attention to female voice over. It comes off less forceful and more like the helpful, friendly voice of someone you already know and trust. Like someone trying to tell you a story rather than pitch a product; like a human voice instead of a line of code turned into audio.
Female voice over touches on nearly every industry, but it’s especially prominent in something we all carry around with us every single day and never actually think about – our phones.
Phone System Recording and Artificial Intelligence
What do iPhones, Androids and Amazon smart devices all have in common? Female voice over.
From GPS apps and devices (way back pre-smartphone era), to virtual reality and phone assistants, most of these tech-driven advancements use female over male voices. In fact, just about every tangible A.I. on the market is developed with female voices in mind – almost to the point of reaffirming negative gender associations.
But the real question is: why are most A.I.’s female?
While the implication might suggest that attributing a female gender to virtual assistants conveys subservience and secretarial status (as evidenced by inundations of complaints against the mammoth tech companies that created them), some experts believe it to be a matter of convenience.
Although, according to one Stanford Professor, it’s just “easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes.”
American Female Voiceover in TV and Film
Whether it’s an animation, reality tv show, teen drama, docu-series, commercial or infomercial, female voice over narration has become an integral aspect of not only American media, but day-to-day life for everyone who consumes it.
Female Voice Over in Reality TV
When we look at hit Netflix reality series like The Circle and Too Hot to Handle, where the narrators help add insights about the on-screen characters and punctuate developments as they occur, we begin to notice something else; they’re characters unto themselves. The host of the series isn’t just a narrator, but a nexus point for everything that goes on. They’re the means and method of keeping viewers engaged; the key to building a story and narrative of events that everyone can easily follow with minimal effort.
And it’s not a new development – reality TV has been using female narrators for decades to connect with audiences. Their personalities and natural energy are allowed to shine through, transforming their voice over from performance to presence.
Reality Series with American Female Voice Over:
- Too Hot to Handle – Desiree Burch is an absolute pleasure to listen to as the narrator of the Netflix reality series and her narrations have been mentioned more than a few times as ‘the best part’ of Too Hot to Handle.
- The Circle – Michelle Buteau serves as resident narrator and host for the hit-Netflix series. Her bubbly presence, quick commentary and loveable personality have helped make the reality series the beloved reality TV-powerhouse that it is today.
Female Narrators in Hit American TV Series
As mentioned earlier in reference to the CW, several of their hit-series – over nearly three decades – feature pitch perfect examples of American female voice over at work. Television shows like Roswell, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars and Legacies all incorporate American female narrators. Sometimes the voice over we hear is meant to start a series off by adding exposition and context delivered from the main character. Other times, she’s a mystery character that the other character’s are working to uncover.
However we chose to look at it, female voices permeate the American TV landscape for a reason; they’re relatable. They take us along for the ride with them and offer up an inside look at the worlds they inhabit, even if it’s for a short time at the beginning and end of a pilot episode.
Female Voiceover in Cult Classic Films
When we look at cult-famous films like Kill Bill, Twilight, Juno and Clueless, they all share one common thread – an American female voice. With the exception of Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page) who was born and raised in Canada, each leading actress is American-born and exemplifies the general American accent.
In Kill Bill, Thurman’s narration guides us through her revenge and carries the audience through her narrative, while Silverstone’s voiceover in Clueless clues us in to her thought process and the way she interprets the series of events. In Juno, Page’s narration is an absolute reflection of the character and holds a mirror up to the lead for the audience to connect with.
A-List American Female Voice Actors You Know and Love
While she’s best known on-screen for her role as Jacky in 1998’s That 70’s Show, Mila Kunis actually got her start in voiceover only a year later.
From the age of 15, Kunis has starred as a series regular in the long-running comedy Family Guy as the voice of Meg Griffin. Despite making it to A-Lister status and appearing in critically acclaimed films like Black Swan, she’s always managed to keep her feet on the ground and never forgot her roots.
Fun fact: Mila Kunis voiced a major character in the 2006 video game Saints Row.
Calling Tina Fey a household name is like calling the sky blue.
If it weren’t impressive enough that she’s already a firmly established actor/comedian/writer/producer/ quintuple-infinity threat, she’s also done her fair share of voiceover over the years.
Voicing popular animated characters like 22 in the Pixar movie Soul, Roxanne Richi in Megamind and Lisa in Ponyo, Tina Fey has also put her voice talents to use in smaller guest roles like The Simpsons and Spongebob Squarepants.
Fun fact: Tina Fey did some cameo voice work in 2021’s Free Guy as ‘Vacuuming Mom’.
When she’s not off pursuing humanitarian efforts or winning Academy Awards, Angelina Jolie somehow manages to fit voiceover into her busy schedule. Along with everything else she always seems to be working on, Jolie has appeared four times as Tigress in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, and did an outstanding job as the villain Grendel’s Mother in 2007’s Beowulf.
Miley Cyrus has come a long way from her early days on the Disney channel as Hanna Montanna.
Even though the American singer and actress has chosen to focus on her music career for the last few years, it hasn’t stopped her from making cameo appearances. – and the occasional uncredited voice acting role or two. While the bulk of her voiceover work can be traced back to Disney properties like The Emperor’s New School (a spin-off series of The Emperor’s New Groove), she did play the leading female role as Penny in 2008’s Bolt alongside co-star John Travolta.
Most people might not have noticed, but Cyrus actually put her voice talents to work as Mainframe in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
This one needs little-to-no explanation; if you’ve ever seen the Shrek franchise, then you’ve no doubt heard Cameron Diaz’s amazing voice at work as the one and only Princess Fiona.
While the actress hasn’t reprised the role for more than a decade, Diaz is set to voice the green princess one last time alongside Mike Meyers for the fifth installment of Shrek in 2023.
Fun Fact: Even though her voice acting experience is limited to seven performances as Princess Fiona, Cameron Diaz provided voice over for the 2003 video game adaptation of Charlie’s Angels.
People love Meryl Streep – so it should come as no surprise that she’s won three Academy Awards, among countless other accolades, throughout the course of her lengthy career. She exudes not just professionalism, but a great voice quality that female voice talent the world-over strives to emulate.
Beyond her stellar on-screen performances, Streep has recorded voice over narration for a number of projects including two documentaries, as well as character voiceover for two animated films. She also appeared in an episode of The Simpsons as the daughter of Reverend Lovejoy.
Fun Fact: Meryl Streep holds the industry record for most Academy Award nominations at a whopping total of 21 nominations.
Anna Ferris may have burst into mainstream celebrity back in the early 2000’s for her starring role as Cindy in the Scary Movie franchise, but her career and presence has only grown over the last two decades.
Since then, she’s starred in dozens of movies, played several leading roles in tv and dropped a cameo here and there. In recent years, Ferris has done a wonderful job voice acting for six major motion pictures that include the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs franchise, the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies and The Emoji Movie. She’s also made uncredited voice appearances in King of the Hill, in addition to her latest voiceover roles as Lil’ Bunny and Chartreuse in the 2021 animated series Housebroken.
It’s no small wonder that American audiences love the fun and energetic voice quality that Ferris brings to the table; the tone she uses to deliver her lines and dynamic method in which she expresses them make her an absolute pleasure on-screen, and off.
While today’s audiences might know her best from The View, Whoopi Golderberg has been acting longer than most millennials have been alive.
Speaking of millennials, most of them spent their formative years listening to her great voice performances as the cackling hyena, Shenzi, in The Lion King movies, Fantasy in The Pagemaster and Ranger Margaret in The Rugrats Movie.
But those are just the tip of voice acting Goldberg, so to speak.
In total, Whoopi Goldburg has 39 distinct and credited voiceover roles to her name, including a Scooby-Doo cameo, two upcoming projects, an appearance in Toy Story 3 and a voice narration in 2019’s The Most Magnificent Thing.
Dakota Fanning may have grown up in front of the camera, but she’s starred off-screen in a couple blockbuster voice roles along the way.
Because Fanning was so young when she started in the acting world, it only made sense that she’d voice younger characters. Beginning her foray into voiceover with roles like young Wonder Woman (Justice League: Unlimited) and a young Kim Possible (Kim Possible: A Stitch in Time), Fanning quickly moved on to bigger projects and leading female roles.
By 2005 (and the age of 11), Fanning took over the Lilo and Stitch franchise as the voice of Lilo, and voice acted alongside her younger sister (Elle Fanning) in a re-dubbing of My Neighbor Totoro.
And by 2009, Fanning landed another titular voice role, only this time, for the critically acclaimed cinematic gem, Coraline. Needless to say, Fanning did a wonderful job in her first big-screen performance as a female voiceover talent and the film received a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards that year.
In addition to her loveable and prolific on-screen presence in TV and film, Kristen Bell has done so much amazing work as a female voice artist that’s worthy of honorable mention.
Perhaps best known for her narration roles in Gossip Girl, its subsequent 2021 revival and Veronica Mars, Kristen Bell has dozens of consistent voice over credits to her name.
Whether it’s a major role, like Anna in Frozen, or one of the countless additional voices she does for series like Big Mouth, The Cleveland Show, Unsupervised and Robot Chicken, (among several video game voice overs and more prominent voice acting roles) Bell is a professional voice artist in every sense of the word.
How to Find Professional American Female Voiceover Talent
You don’t have to search very far for amazing female voice talent – they’re just a stone’s throw away. When you’re looking to record professional female voiceover for an upcoming corporate video project, get a quick turnaround on that eLearning narration or have your medical voice over script completed in a short and timely manner, consider working with an industry pro who has their own home studio.
In a post-Covid19 landscape, where face-to-face interaction isn’t always possible or convenient, there’s never been a better time to work with a professional female voice actor from the comfort of your own home or office. Just make sure to do your research into what their specialties and signature voice qualities are – while there are plenty of pay-to-play sites that boast countless American female voice artists for whatever your project might be, not all voice talents are created equally.
That’s why it’s essential to work with a consummate professional with decades of experience under her belt. Having been in the voiceover industry for 30 years, I cannot stress enough the importance of vetting your voice talents before contracting them to bring your script to life.
Start by setting up a custom audition to see what they’re capable of; ask about live direction over source connect and give them a challenging sample script that tests exactly what they’re capable of.
If you’re still unsure where to start or need a little bit more guidance in hiring a professional female voice talent who can exude that classic American sound, don’t hesitate to reach out for industry rates or a custom audition.
With lightning-quick turnaround times and professional insights that are impossible to beat, you’ll be turning your target audience into clients in no time.