Andy Roth Talks About How He Became One of New York’s Busiest Voice-over Casting Directors, a Voice Director, and a Voice-over Teacher – at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio –Who Has Twice Been Voted “Favorite N.Y. Voice-over Teacher” by Backstage Readers
Andy Roth has worked in voice-over casting and voice-directing for more than two decades. He has worked on more than a thousand projects for such companies as Disney, Discovery Kids, Blizzard Entertainment, Calvin Klein, and Geico. His television and film work can be seen on Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, Crunchyroll, and much more.
TKS: How did you go from growing up on Long Island to becoming a voice-over casting director?
Roth: After graduating from Syosset High School, I went to the University at Buffalo, where I studied theater and had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant for the renowned actor Stephen McKinley Henderson, who was on the faculty there. After graduating, I continued acting in theaters in Buffalo but learned that I loved being involved in the industry, but not the acting so much. I moved to New York City and worked for Samuel French, Inc., the theatrical publisher, until a friend told me of a job opportunity as an assistant in the voice-over department at the talent agency CED, now CESD. I applied for and won the job.
Technology in voice-over was changing rapidly at the time, and my penchant for new technology, in addition to my rapport with the agency’s celebrity clients, won me the position of in-house booth director, overseeing all voice-over castings. In 2006, I left to start my own
voice-over casting and directing business, and I’ve been working with many of the biggest advertising agencies, casting houses, and production companies ever since.
TKS: What is it about voice-over that fascinates you so?
Roth: Voice-over is everywhere, and it has an enormous influence on our society. Every time you hear a voice that’s not attached to the original actor in the original context, in the theater, in film, on television, that’s voice-over. Even Siri and Alexa are voice-overs. It’s narration; it’s the voices in animated films, TV shows, and commercials; it’s audiobooks; it’s dubbing from one language to another; it’s promotions; it’s video games, it’s in amusement park rides, and toys, and much more. The breadth of it is staggering; it’s growing rapidly, and it’s fascinating to cast the talent that makes all of that possible.
TKS: How did you come to teach at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio?
Roth: I’ve loved teaching since my days as a Teaching Assistant in college, and for many years I’ve incorporated teaching into my career. I taught for nine years at NYU’s Tisch School of the
Arts. But it’s hard to balance the demands of college teaching with those of a busy voice-over casting and directing business.
A friend of mine introduced me to Terry Knickerbocker, and I became excited about the opportunity of teaching at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio for two reasons: First, Terry is renowned as a brilliant teacher – a guru of actor training – and I liked the idea of being part of the studio that he founded and leads. Second, the Terry Knickerbocker Studio offers more flexibility in its scheduling, and that fits better alongside the demands of my other work. And I just love the students. They come prepared, ready to work, and by the time I get to work with them, they’re just darn good.
TKS: What is the focus of your voice-over class at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio?
Roth: I help students understand the environment in which the work takes place. That environment is super-fast. There’s no (or at least very little) learning curve. The actors may not even know the roles that they’ll be playing until they arrive at the studio. Some projects have 50 parts, and you can’t cast all of them individually, so you look for personalities rather than voices in the audition submissions you get. Someone may be totally wrong for the role in the sides being read but totally right for one we haven’t even put out there. Any read can book any role. I’ve cast people for shows they didn’t even audition for, based on auditions they did for other projects. I cast people, not voices.
The class is about how to make choices really fast, commit to them, and execute on those choices. It’s about what casting directors look for and what they don’t. It’s about how to feel comfortable and confident in any setting, so that your talents are projected impressively and memorably.
It’s also about building relationships with casting directors, so they think of you, as projects arise. Every audition – whether in person or submitted remotely – is a step in building a relationship with the casting director working on that project. It doesn’t guarantee you the part, but it does guarantee you a chance to come to that casting director’s attention and make an impression. It’s a crucial step in building a career, even if you’re not chosen for that one project.
TKS: What do you like best about teaching at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio?
I like the fact that the students at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio come with such great training from the Studio’s faculty. The students have a foundation that is extraordinary. They
arrive in my class having been taught by others who know how to communicate and who breed confidence, not fear. The students have certain approaches and instincts that are enormously helpful, as they tackle the speed of voice-over. That brings out the best in what they can be.