I’ve been asked many times over the years about child voice acting, how it works, whether there are any special requirements. So I’m finally getting round to putting my experience out there.

So, like many voiceover households our first toe-dip in the water was many years ago when I was asked by a client whether my daughter Jess does voiceovers, and would she be interested in auditioning for a job. She’d never expressed an interest in joining me in the booth, and although she wasn’t what I’d describe as a ‘performing’ child, she was an avid reader – so we gave it a go! She was 8 at the time, we had a bit of fun in the booth for the audition and I prepped her for the potential disappointment of not actually booking the job! The ratio of jobs to bookings is a difficult thing to get your head around at that age. But, typically – just to prove me wrong – she booked the job and went on to have a wonderful experience being directed by a brilliant production team, who got an excellent performance out of her….

You can listen to the full sample here

That was just a little snippet and of course all these years later her voice has matured but it gives you an idea of the kind of jobs kids can get involved in at quite a young age.

Although that all sounded rather straightforward there was a little bit more to it than that behind the scenes!

One thing that people don’t realise is needed is that every child in the UK under the age of 16 has to have a license to take part in paid work. This license is issued by the Local Authority that the child resides in. Each Local Authority manages this slightly differently, but usually needs an application for a performance license for each individual job. The license quite rightly is there to protect your child so is a necessary burden I’m afraid. It details a range information like, who the company is that’s employing the child, how much time the performance will take, where it will be recorded, how much they’ll get paid and who will be involved in the process. All the things you’d expect to see.

So my first top tip if you’re considering applying for one is to have all that information to hand about the job itself and also personal information (including birth certificate and recent photo) about the child before making an application.

Many Councils will have an online process but it is helpful, I’ve found, to introduce yourself to the licensing team. This way, if there are any queries, you’ve established a rapport to get them ironed out as quickly as possible.

On that note – usually if the performance is a simple session, after school, a license is issued very quickly. I’ve had a 24hr turnaround here in Leicester, but it’s important to be clear with whoever you’re working with that a license can take up to 10-14 days and needs to be issued before the work takes place (not retrospectively).

Just as a heads up too some Local Authorities require a time sheet type approach through the year to register the cumulative time spent performing. We have to do that for our Local Authority. And various policies in place (such as child protection) – especially if you are working with children wider than your own.

Then all you need is time, patience and lots of words of encouragement to get them through a session – sometimes easier when someone else is directing them!

So – in short my top tips are:

Be clear with your client when auditioning for a child voiceover that more time than usual is needed to get the necessary paperwork in place.

Consider befriending your Local Authority Licensing Team and/or Child Employment Welfare Officer – this can save you a tonne of time in the long run.

Have them as prepared as you’d be for a directed session – warm ups, drink, confidence boost etc!

And make sure you’ve got the tech side well and truly covered so they can sail through a session!

Jess isn’t with an agent, we simply respond to requests when they come in and she works around school hours and she’s gone on to voice for a variety of genres now – corporate / e-learning. Her latest performance can be heard at the newly refurbished National Children’s Museum at Sudbury Hall – a UK National Trust property. I’ll leave you with a snippet of her (and her co-performer Benjamin Slocombe) as they welcome you to the museum and hopefully entice you in to experience all the exciting new activities.

If you’ve got any further questions about our experience, or would like Jess to audition for your latest project then please do get in touch.

Again – you can hear the sample here..

(Blog Audio Version below)