Q&A with: Lili Wexu
Voice actor Lili Wexu shares insight into the niche industry with her new e-book series
Photo: Bjoern Kommerell
With trending TikTok dances on the rise and outward appearances leading the force in growing a fan base, Lili Wexu would rather be heard than seen so to speak. The voice actor, who you might recognize from Grey's Anatomy or Alien vs Predator has just released a user friendly guide for aspiring up-and-comers in hopes that, like her, others will feel connected and empowered by the voice within.
Wexu's e-book series, titled Get Clever About Voice Acting & Announcing, offers helpful tips and tangible suggestions for those looking to make a living behind the microphone. It's the perfect pivot for actors, singers or newbies to experiment in the voice field as time spent at home is on the rise.
Below, Wexu shares the secrets of establishing a voice career and takes a look back on her own journey to success.
Did you always want to be a voice actor? How did you realize there was a tangible path for success? I’ve wanted to be an actress for as long as I can remember; I [had] a strong connection to my voice as a child [and] I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I was somehow convinced that someone should “discover” my voice. I eventually thought I [could] be a singer, but that got nipped in the bud early when an elementary school teacher singled me out for sounding like a “buzzing bee." Years later, I befriended a few radio DJs at work [and] they eventually got me to record radio liners at their radio station. One of them, Rob Wreford, became my mentor and [made me realize] I could make a living with my voice. I did everything I could to make that happen and I never looked back.
How does someone know if they have the voice for voice acting? Some people have a strong connection to their voice and that can lead them into the field. For instance, singers often cross over to voice acting successfully. There are also performers whose first love is acting, impersonating or mimicking. For some, it starts with the ability to perform many different accents believably. The microphone is really just another medium for actors, just like the stage or the screen is. Some get the voice acting bug because they love creating characters with their voices when they read books to their children or interact with their pets. There are also those who love speaking in public or teaching. Many of them are wonderful narrators. Acting on screen isn't just about your face, and [the same goes] for voice acting -- it’s not just about your voice. All types of voices are necessary. If you’re drawn to the field, explore it. [Don't] worry about your specific voice qualities.
What's changed most about this industry in the last seven months and how can aspiring actors adapt to the new landscape? The biggest change is a change that was already in motion and that many other industries are also grappling with, which is that any work that can be done remotely is now done remotely. Actors [have] to handle the technical aspect of recording audio [and] equip themselves with recording gear, build a reliable recording space and learn to edit their work. It’s definitely a learning curve for many actors, especially those who were used to going to recording studios and having other people handle their audio. It hasn't been easy.
When was a time you were challenged the most when preparing for a voiceover and how did you overcome it? When I worked on Assassin’s Creed II, I was still an inexperienced and untrained actress and everyone in the cast had to learn an Italian accent for the various roles we played. It wasn’t as easy as I expected and I was under pressure to pull it off quickly. It was humbling. It was also the early days of motion capture, which is how most high-profile video games are recorded and filmed these days, so they had put motion sensors on my face to record my facial expressions. I had to act, but I also had to refrain from moving around too much and it was just a lot to be mindful of all at once. I remained professional and plowed through it, but I gained a huge respect for the field.
How can beginners in the industry launch a career? Acting or improvisation training are at the core of voice acting. This is as true for those interested in pursuing commercial and narration voiceover work as it is for those interested in the audio book, video game and animation sectors. Beyond having a great acting or improv foundation, voiceover centric training is also important. If you want to be a video game voice actor, get a video game coach. I recommend seeking out very specific teachers for the sectors you want to explore. Reading out loud daily is also helpful!
Purchase Lili's e-book, Get Clever About Voice Acting & Announcing here
Learn more about Lili Wexu here
Follow Lili on Instagram