Exclusive Interview With Tolulope Kolade Emmanuel Winner Of Nigeria’s 1st Voice Acting Contest

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New Year is often the best time to explore new talents. Your talent can come in different forms, sometimes it could be just your voice. We had the opportunity to interview the winner of Nigeria’s 1st Voice acting contest which took place in December of 2021. The voiceover artist talked about how he got into voiceovers and made a career for himself as well as his journey so far.

Q. Hello, can you please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Tolulope Kolade Emmanuel, popularly known as Tcode. I’m a Voiceover artist from Ondo state, Nigeria and also, the official Voice actor for African Glitz TV, Youtube.

I’m an experienced On-air Personality with over 4-year history of working in the broadcast media industry both on radio and TV. 

I hold a B.A. in Philosophy from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo state and a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations & Advert from the international institute of Journalism, Abuja. I’m an Alumni of Voiceover Workshop, Broadcast Radio Master Class and City Media Academy.

I am a member of the Association of African Podcasters and Voice-artists (APVA).

I am also a podcaster; the voice behind the “Nigerian Entertainment Diary” Podcast. And I co-founded Fortéii media, a PR company that specialises in the production and management of podcasts.

I have done hundreds of Voiceovers ranging from commercials to narrations to documentaries for numerous clients in Africa and beyond.

Also by the grace of God, I am the Winner of Nigeria’s 1st Voice Acting Contest 2021

Q. How do you feel winning the first Nigerian Voiceacting contest?

I feel very elated to be the winner of the first Nigerian Voiceover contest. It’s a dream come true. An achievement that has been etched in the history books of voice acting in Nigeria. For this, I feel honoured and blessed.

Q. Why Voiceovers? Tell us about your journey into Voiceovers.

I choose to go into voiceovers because first of all, I love reading out loud and listening to how I sound. This is something I had been doing since I was a child and the realization that it was a natural talent for me and that it could fetch me some money gave me more reasons to settle for voiceovers as a profession.

My journey into voiceovers started long ago as a kid when I began doing cartoon voice impressions. Then, I’d draw comics and voice-act the characters to my siblings. I voiced almost everything I saw on TV. From trailers to cartoons, to documentaries, news and even movie titles and end credits. This habit followed me till I became a young adult. During my university days, I began making voiceovers to publicise campus fellowship events(free of charge). 

After school, I found my way into radio presenting and that was where I began training my voice intentionally for voiceovers. I did a lot of radio imaging, hypes and commercials. The rest they say is history.

Q. When did you realize that your voice could make money for you and how did you start making money from Voiceovers?

I realized that my voice could make me money while I was serving some years back during NYSC. I helped a producer to read a script and he gave me about a thousand naira. Some days later, he told me that he knows someone who gets up to a million naira for voicing commercial ads for telecommunications companies. It was then I knew there was more to this than just reading for fun.

I began making money slowly but gradually from voiceover from that time on. Very little was paid for my voice then but I didn’t mind. I knew I had a voice the industry needs and with time and quality training, it would become undeniably valuable. Some producers I had worked with on radio during NYSC began referring me to clients.

Then I stumbled on some online Freelancing websites that landed me a couple of gigs. At this point, I had built confidence enough to approach brands and businesses to inform them that I do voiceovers. A lot of them didn’t respond as I wanted but a few did. An example is African Glitz TV with which I have spent the last 2 years working as the official voice actor for the brand. 

It shows that the least you can do is try. You may not always get all you want but you should learn to value the little things you have, they will grow someday to what you desire.

Q. We know nothing comes easy and just like our body, your voice can get tired, how do you take care of your voice and what is your Voice training routine like?

There are many things I do and don’t do to keep my voice healthy but I’ll just mention a few of them.

First of all, I avoid cold drinks, either water or soft drinks. It is really bad for the voice. 

Secondly, I avoid drinks that have caffeine in them. My best drink is water, then smoothies. These are the only 2 drinks that I trust to keep my voice healthy.

Thirdly, I do young twisters. They help to make my mouth & lips flexible and fluid when I’m reading or voice acting.

Fourthly, I do a little exercise I call mouth flapping. That also stretches my lips well enough for the job.

Fifty, I avoid dusty places. If at all I come around a dusty area, I make sure to use my nose mask.

Lastly, I don’t talk too much or shout too much. If I do any of the two, it weakens my vocal box and sometimes it makes me lose my voice.

Q. How did you get to know about the Nigerian Voice acting contest?

I got to know about the contacts through the Voiceover workshop’s Instagram page. The Voiceover workshop is a training institution for voiceover talents and I am an alumnus of the institution. Hence, I got the news almost immediately.

Q. What was your experience in the competition like?

Amazing! 6 weeks of thorough critic from the judges, trying to ensure that they got the best from us. 

It all started for me in late October when the competition was first announced. I made my entry and got selected out of over 60 entries to be among the 23 contestants for the competition. We were given weekly tasks of acting different scripts from the different kinds of voiceovers from Commercials to narrations to documentaries to movie scripts to animation and so on. It was challenging trying to create exceptional voiceovers that will beat my colleagues. We had to not only record the voiceovers but also create corresponding videos that will match them. The audio production was also an added advantage for some of us who knew our way around it. Then we had some of the best Voice actors in Nigeria serve as our judges. In my opinion, its was been the best 6 weeks of my entire Voiceover career.

Q.What was your biggest challenge in the contest?

Asides from some of my fellow contestants who I realised were pretty good at voice acting, I think my biggest challenge was also choosing the right techniques to use and balancing it so I didn’t sound too cool or too hyper. As much as my voice sounds sweet, using the wrong technique could have meant the end of the road for me in the competition.

I remember the eviction week before the final, I got evicted because I used a beautifully done documentary technique for a script that required a conversational type read. I was only saved by grace as the host decided they needed to vote for one more evictee to be in the top 5 and I grace would have it, I was saved. I’m forever grateful to God for that night.

Q. Did you always know that you were going to win the contest?

I knew from scratch that I could win the contest and as the weeks drew nearer to the finals, my convictions grew stronger. My faith in God coupled with the hard work I put in also gave me the confidence that I would win the competition. After being saved from eviction, I knew God grace was ready to see me through, all I just need was to do my part which I did. Again, God’s grace was the confidence I had.

Q. What do you think are the biggest myths about Voiceover?

That you need a deep voice to be a good voice actor. That’s the first myth. The truth is, every voice is unique and is needed in the industry but individuals must learn and understand where to use it how to use it well.

The second myth is that every voiceover is a “jingle”. Not every voiceover is a jingle. Voiceovers are not jingles but rather, jingles are a musical type of voiceover employed for ads & commercials.

The third myth is that you have to do English voiceovers to be a successful voice actor. This is not true as we’ve seen many voice actors who focus on indigenous languages like Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and even Pidgin excel in their chosen nitch. It’s even an added advantage when you can do voiceovers well in more than one language.

The final myth I’ll like to share is the assumption that voice acting is as simple as just getting into the booth and recording with a polished voice. Nope. It takes more than a polished voice. You need special skills and knowledge for you to do it right.

So next time you hire a Voice actor, please pay him/her well. They most like have spent hundreds of hours learning & rehearsing so you can get the best. But as they say, the good ones make it look easy. 

Q. What are your plans going forward?

I plan to invest more in training myself to become a better version of myself in voice acting.

I also plan to invest some money into a major upgrade of my home studio.

Lastly, I intend to put out more voiceover content to not only be able to market my craft but also inspire more people who are interested in the voice acting profession.

Q. Your words of advice for anyone going into the voiceover industry

To everyone coming into the VO industry, first of all, get trained. This is important. You need to understand the ethics of voiceovers and how you use your voice properly if you would have a successful VO career.

You should endeavour to invest in personal recording gear. A mic, audio interface and computer. This will give you more flexibility to rehearse at your will and deliver jobs from the convenience of your home.

Also, ensure your network with stakeholders in the VO industry. Not just voiceover artists but VO agencies, animators, producers, business owners and every other person you think can give you a job or a referral.

Lastly, put out good VO content on your online platforms and make a voiceover demo. Your demo reel is your CV in the Voiceover industry.

Thank you very much for your time, You have definitely proved to us that our voice is part of our talent and we can also use it to make money. We are wishing you more success and all the very best in all your endeavours.

Interviewed by: Noellin Imoh

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