Have you ever wondered how you get a job as a voiceover actor/actress? I know I have. My curiosity and research led me to Michelle Ruff, one of the most highly recognized voiceover talents, specifically in anime and video games. Michelle has been creating unique and memorable voices for quite some time now and some of her credits include: Lupin The 3rd, Akira, Jade Cocoon, Wild Arms, Street Fighter, Cardcaptor Sakura, The Oblongs, Cowboy Bebop, Xenosaga, Digimon, Dynasty Warriors, Star Ocean, Ghost In The Shell, Gungrave, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Naruto, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Sonic Generations, Saints Row: The Third, and most recently Jill Valentine in Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. WOW, I know and that’s just a few of her credits.
Ruff’s credits continue to grow exponentially and they are hard to keep up with, however her success is not by any means a fluke or luck. On the contrary she is a testament to God given talent, hard work, and most of all a humility which for a star of her caliber could be understood if she were pompous about all her accomplishments. Thankfully she is quite the opposite and allowed GMEG to sit with her briefly to ask some pertinent questions about her experience in entertainment as a Female voiceover actor.
Michelle, thanks for taking time out of your hectic schedule to sit with us and answer our questions.
Tell us a little bit of who you are? What you do? Who you’ve worked with? How did you get into the business?
You’re welcome! Gotta pay it forward. I’m a voice over artist originally from Second City and Improv Olympic in Chicago. I’ve worked with so many people, honestly I don’t remember who I worked with yesterday.
How about most memorable people? One of my first commercial jobs was with the original Fred Flinstone in studio together for a Post Hollyrock Cocoa Pebbles spot with Barney Rubble on phone patch from the East coast. A moment I’ll never forget. Nicest celebrity director I’ve worked with was Jada Pinkett Smith. Favorite animation studio to work at, Dreamworks Animation Campus and all the lovely directors and producers there.
I originally started doing voice overs back in Michigan. I was studying at Michigan State (GO SPARTANS!!!!) behind the scenes in TV and Radio production. I was working as an office manager/talent agent at a place called C.L Adams model and talent agency. Well, C.L., my boss got a call one day for a radio spot audition and he told me I should go audition. After much resistance, I went. A week later I was driving in the car with my then roommate and I heard my voice on the radio! They lifted my audition and used it for the actual radio spot without ever actually booking me! So C.L. called and got me paid, etc…and that was my first radio spot. From there, the rest is history. And what a history it has been.
2. What experience/advice has had the most impact on your career?
I had an acting manager here in L.A. tell me that I’ll never get anywhere being so fragile and that being a victim is not attractive. That despite not acting on camera, I was doing voice over acting, I needed to start caring about how I looked and showing up to jobs and auditions put together because people notice. You know what? She was right. Great advice if you want the part you have to look the part. Something I have learned myself in all walks of life.
3. Did you set goals before reaching certain milestones?
I did. When I first started in the business in L.A., I made it a goal to network with everyone I auditioned with and worked with. I took an internship and worked for free for a long time, which I think is the foundation of why I’m successful today. I met so many people who had an opportunity to see me work and in turn hired me and still hire me. I asked lots of questions. People are really wonderful in the voice over community. I had a few really amazing talented people take me under their wing as mentors. Another great piece of advice NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK as well as ask questions and seek mentoring. It seems you’re humility early on continues to pay dividends.
4. Can you explain some of the misconceptions you hear from young actors striving to break into voice over acting?
A lot of people want to break into voice overs including a lot of people who aren’t even actors or remotely in the same field. The biggest misconception is that to do a voice over you just go into a booth and use your voice in front of a microphone. The business has changed. There used to be a lot more room for “announcers” but nowadays, clients want real actors.
They want someone to sell their products, do commercials and do their cartoon characters and video game characters who actually have acting chops. In other words study the craft of acting in all its facets. Success comes with putting in the work, anyone striving to become successful at voiceover acting is no different-put in the time and learn.
5. Are there any specific book(s) or articles you would recommend to aspiring voice over actors?
Hmmm. I haven’t read any books or articles specifically. A company I do cartoons for did a video called “Adventures in Voice Acting” which I was interviewed for. I’ve heard it’s really helpful for those looking to break in to the voice over world. Thank you for that resource and those aspiring actors don’t forget acting classes. Learn your craft.
6. Do you have a favorite quote(s) or mantra you live by?
There are a few….
Hello, I’m fabulous.
Thank you for my continued financial success as an actress.
Thank you for my creative focus.
Somebody’s doing it…why not me?
I just want to be invited to the party. If I suck, then you don’t have to invite me back.
7. What advice would you give young women thinking about entering the voice over field as a profession?
Study acting. Take Improvisation classes. Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. Because if you really want to, you can! Be easy to work with. Return your phone calls ASAP and treat it as a “business”. It’s a fine line because we’re artists but as artists we have to sell our commodity, which is ourselves.
Don’t take things personally…you have to have a thick skin to do a million auditions and only book one job. That’s a lot of rejection. Keep it moving and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Network, Network, Network!!!! Priceless information, thank you.
8. Who would benefit from your services/talent?
Anyone who needs a real, honest believable voice for their product.
Anyone who needs a character voice for a video game or cartoon.
Anyone who needs someone to come in and do real young believable kid voices.
Anyone who’s check won’t bounce…Just kidding!!!!
Thank you for your honesty & insight, just two more questions on a lighter note…
9. If you could only use one cuss/curse word for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
Shit! It’s fun to say and it can be used in so many different and interesting ways.
10. If you could have a superpower or be a superhero for a day; who/what would it be and why?
Hmmmm. Is this a trick question? This is actually an application for the Miss America Pageant…isn’t it. You almost had me. Sneaky. Good no answer because you would reveal your true identity as Superwoman, oops did I say that?
Michelle thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to sit with us and giving some insight to those individuals looking to break into the voiceover business as well as your sincere and sound advice.
It goes without saying you are in every sense of the word a Woman of Influence and we wish you nothing but continued success in all your personal and professional ventures.
If you are interested in booking Michelle or want to learn more about her current or future work please visit: