James Alexander is absolutely dominating the world of Video Game VoiceOver’s at the moment so we decided to interview him to find out how he has become such a success in the gaming industry and any helpful tips and tricks he can share!
How did you get started as a VO actor?
I spent a lot of time from a young age mimicking voices in films and videogames and never really stopped! When I went to University I joined Derby Student Radio and Birmingham Hospital Radio and started working on character voices for my shows. Around the same time I decided to give voice-acting a shot, because it turned out a lot of my interests stem into that world. I then recorded a character reel under my duvet in the middle of the summer (it was very sweaty) and then started working on finding myself auditions!
What was your first gig?
My first gig was the 2017 video-game ‘WulverBlade’. It’s about the Roman Invasion of Old Britannia with an arcade twist, and I had the pleasure of voicing two of the bosses. The Roman Legionnaire Primus Pilus and the Barbarian King Arthal, along with some smaller enemy characters too. I came across an open audition for it on Facebook of all places, and was lucky enough to book the job!
What other memorable gigs come to mind?
I’ve got quite a few exciting projects I’ve worked on but still can’t talk about, but ones I can talk about are the Formula 1 games and GRID Legends with Codemasters. I spent most of the sessions wearing an actual pit crew helmet which really helped with the authenticity, along with some race sounds playing in my ears! So much fun!
We like to refer to you as the king of gaming voiceovers! Any helpful tips on how to be successful in the gaming industry?
Oh, that’s very kind of you, but it’s more likely I’m a distant heir to the throne, but thank you! My first tip would be PRACTICE! If you don’t play videogames, watch footage of gaming cut-scenes, or ‘making of’ videos get a flavour for the genres and how the characters sound and play out. Before you know it you’ve created a lowly Goblin merchant, with a heart of gold AND a God complex. Another thing, which goes for all actors really is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. We all bring something different and unique to the table, and it can be daunting but be confident in your creation and it can take you a long way!
What do you love about your job?
Where do I start! Having the opportunity to work with so many talented engineers, directors, coordinators, writers and of course, other actors! Collaborating and witnessing a character come to life is one of the most rewarding things, taking them from an idea and fleshing them out into someone (or something) believable is just truly fantastic. I’m so incredibly grateful to be trusted to bring these characters to life and for them to be heard by so many!
What are you up to presently?
I’m incredibly busy (and grateful) at the moment to be involved with 10 upcoming game projects that I cannot tell you anything about… yet! But, I can say I’ll be involved in Warhammer 40K: Darktide which is out September 13th this year. There’s so much more I want to talk about, but I am devoted to the NDA and it’s killing me! Haha!
Any VO idols/mentors? What are some of the biggest lessons you may have learned from them?
Yuri Lowenthal & Tara Platt
When I started my VO career I had so many questions and wasn’t really aware of the do’s and don’ts. Luckily, I came across the book ‘Voice Over, Voice Actor’ by husband and wife-voice acting powerhouses – Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt. This book is invaluable, and contains so many honest and insightful tips for beginners AND established VO’s. One nugget of advice is about how to create your reels and to make them most effective.
I recently wanted to start fine tuning my skills as a voice actor, so I contacted the official Male Voiceover of the Year – Stephane Cornicard! Aside from his inspiring career so far, he also has some incredible pieces of advice for actors. His advice taught me where best to add nuance to particular character reads, but to also break out of the groove of repeating a line in similar ways. There is always something new to learn, no matter what stage you are in your career.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Well, my other side-hustle is teaching voice-acting masterclasses at The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts to kids and teens! So, probably even more teaching!
Has technology/home studios changed the way you work?
Absolutely! Though I prefer to go into a studio with a team to record, having a home studio gives you the reach for further opportunities, especially for the last minute jobs! The benefit of becoming familiar with your own work space, is that you’ll feel more comfortable getting even more creative! Oh, you will also be conscious of every single sound outside of your home, like the people who seem to be mowing their lawns 24/7.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
Be Patient, Professional and Practice! Practice! Practice! (Out Loud!)
And now…onto the more serious questions!
If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose, and why?
As part of my indepth research I’ve asked a few trusted people and they all have said invisibility. But, I’m going to pick flying! Why wouldn’t you want to fly? Imagine all the places you could go, the time you could save, and how cool you’d look! If you hit the gym enough you could take someone with you too. I’d have to do my best to avoid planes though…
If you got to choose a song that would play every time you entered a room, what song would you pick?
I’m going to cheat here and give you two! Haha! When I’m in a rush or going about in a panic it’s gotta be “Dies Irae” by Joseph Eybler. The actual choice would be “Hail Bop” by Django Django, because it’s just so good.
And finally….If you were a brand, what would your slogan be?
Because I say it in just about every single session I do, it would be – “If you’re happy, I’m happy.”