If you envision yourself as a successful actor to any degree, working with Disney has probably crossed your mind. You might even consider making voice acting your career.
As one of the largest franchises globally, Disney offers a wide variety of roles for you as a performer, many of those options being vocal parts for various projects across their gigantic platform.
Once your foot is in the Disney door, you have many opportunities within the company, from small parts to lead roles (even roles as big as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck).
The question is how you take the first step into working for this prestigious company, especially when getting your foot in the door can be tricky. I’m here to help you out.
Disney Casting Calls: where to find them
Many of Disney’s roles come from talent agencies or invitations to audition. If you work with a talent agency that works with Disney auditions frequently, chances are that your hat is already in the ring.
If you are looking for a stepping stone to get there, the best way is to try working with casting sites such as Backstage to search for roles they accept worldwide submissions from.
They advertise casting calls from various well-known studio names, Disney being one of them.
How to Get an Audition at Disney
As the largest entertainment conglomerate in the world, Disney’s process for hiring voice acting roles operates differently from competing media franchises.
Disney Animation recruits talent for their projects, making taking the first step into that circle a little daunting since it does not look as accessible.
Disney looks for actors who have previous experience working in the industry that they can see in the specific role and recruits them to try out. The more experience you have, the better off you will be.
In most cases, you need an agent or manager to apply for voice-over auditions. Disney rarely has an open call, but they do happen from time to time. So, if you want to land a Disney role via an open call, stay alert and look at Backstage.
If you don’t have an agent, I recommend you read this guide on how to get an agent for acting.
If you have good communication skills, don’t hesitate to contact casting directors. As the Disney Channel casting director Lisa London says in this article on Backstage:
Send them a short note with your picture and résumé […] Tell them that you would love to audition for them. Just be sure to be prepared if this opportunity arises.– Lisa London
Also, you should consider looking for roles beyond the feature film. I know landing a leading role in a Pixar or a Walt Disney Animated Studio feature is a dream come true for most, but why not dip your toes with voice acting in video games or television shows?
See some of the many studios Disney owns that you can also audition for.
The audition process at Disney
A lot of the time, you receive what are called “sides” for various parts you audition for. Receiving sides means you get a little piece of the script for a project and read it for your audition.
Reading something for the casting directors gives them a taste of how you would perform as the character, which is why most of them use an actual portion of their script.
However, in their audition process, Disney does things differently than many other production companies.
Instead of working with actual audition scripts with material from the movie, show, or game you are trying out for, the Disney casting team asks you to work with written material that isn’t even from the work.
This helps to keep confidentiality. It cannot be leaked to the public without anyone knowing the storyline.
Audition submission from home
A huge perk for this dream voice acting gig is that, similar to other acting fields, you can submit remotely for some roles.
For example, if you see a role you are perfect for, but the casting department is halfway across the country, there’s no need to worry because you can apply via video submission.
You can record an audition video from home and then send it to Disney!
This is a way to ensure that you will always be able to audition for what suits you, regardless of location.
Know your project
Even though Disney is all about NDAs and ensuring things don’t leak, you can still get some clues.
I see two major differences between auditioning for a Disney or Pixar animated feature and a new Disney show: for features, Disney looks for grounded character voices that the audience can relate to. You need to be good at improv for television shows like DuckTales.
Animated feature films
When you are auditioning, make sure you are not overdoing it with the representation of your character. Voicing someone and making it too unrealistic will result in an audition that does not go the way you plan.
If you are rooted in your character and care about your performance, you will have a better chance of success. Plus, it is a great way to showcase your personality.
The casting directors want you to find your way of portraying the character. If you know how to vocally perform as an animated character realistically, that is their focus.
As the head of the Walt Disney Animation Studios, Jamie Sparer Roberts puts it:
“Disney animation prides itself on the ability to give audiences characters that [they] can relate to. We’ve found that hiring actors whose performances are grounded and not over-the-top or cartoony helps us move toward the type of deeper storytelling that we are known for.”
No one wants to watch a movie and think about how unrelatable the characters are to themselves. You being an honest and relatable depiction of their idea is crucial.
Animated television shows
It’s easier to get your foot in the door in one of the many animated television shows Disney owns. At least here, you aren’t competing with Tom Hanks (Woody in the Toy Story franchise) or Jake Gyllenhaal and Lucy Liu (Strange World (2022)).
Here, improvisation is essential. Plus, there’s more room for making “funny voices.”
As Aaron Drown, executive director of Disney Television Animation Casting, says in this article from 2020:
Specifically with the ‘DuckTales’ cast, you have some very talented comedic actors who can be very funny regardless of help from writers or not. They can improvise. I think that was really important in that cast.– Aaron Drown
When coming up with voices and sounds for the animated shows, he emphasizes the importance of studying animated classics and being able to read between the lines of the script:
Go back and think about iconic animated characters. If you were to try to do an impersonation of what SpongeBob sounds like when he laughs, or what Mickey Mouse sounds like when he laughs, just realize, ‘Oh, an actor came up with that laugh. An actor came up with that noise.’– Aaron Drown
Other things you can do to better your chances of becoming a successful voice actor working with Disney
First, ensure you have a solid social media profile and a website with headshots, a showreel (or make two – one for voice-over work and another for live-action), and a resumé.
The Walt Disney Company will examine your ability to think independently and any comedy or theater training. So, if you took a couple of acting classes that helped form your characteristics, put that on your resume.
Check out this guide to the best online acting classes you can get.
Also, you should audition for additional gigs outside the Walt Disney Company, even if working with them is your ultimate voice-acting goal.
It is always good to take on new roles and build up your resume, even if the role is not with the company at the top of your list.
This will help to build your reputation and assist the casting directors in pursuing you for their projects.
If you are considering taking additional voice acting classes or any acting experience, leap! It will pay off to become more skilled, no matter your current skill level.
And, of course, always practice with a microphone and headphones so you can record and listen to yourself.
Fx, you find voice acting prompts for free online to practice your skills.
How about Disney Cruise Ships and Theme Parks?
If you want to audition for acting roles for Cruise Ships or Theme Parks worldwide, you should go to https://jobs.disneycareers.com/auditions
You can see a drop-down list of options, including actors, dancers, Disney character performers, and singers.
While these are great for developing your general actor skills, I’d recommend getting in front of a microphone and doing voice-over jobs for other studios and smaller projects if voice acting is your passion.
If you are searching for a successful career in the voice acting industry, look no further than working for the Walt Disney Studio. You could do much worse than landing a job as a Disney voice actor.
To be a successful voice-over actor with Disney, your best shot is to put in hard work and be open to any casting call or talent search in your area.
An open casting call for voice acting is rare, but more options exist to show the studio who you are.
Having an audition reel, with vocal range samples and different parts you have played, is also helpful.
If you keep perfecting your roles, keep a positive attitude, and be diligent with your voice acting career, you will hit your big break in no time with Disney. Good luck!