A Short Chat with Drew Hobson

A Short Chat with Drew Hobson

Drew Hobson will be teaching Voiceover this spring. While he is a new member of our Freehold faculty, Drew draws on decades of experience as an actor, voice over artist, and teaching artist. We sat down with Drew recently to talk about his artistic journey, some similarities and differences between stage and voice acting, and what students can expect in his upcoming class.

Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic journey?

Yeah, sure. I’ve been acting since I was seven years old. I usually like to tell at the beginning of class how Goonies was the movie that inspired me to get into acting as a kid. I was doing acting and theater all through school up through high school. I went to Western Washington where I got my BA in theater arts, moved back down to Seattle, was lucky enough to get started as a working actor and teaching artist. I’ve taught with many different organizations, including Red Eagle Soaring, Evergreen State College, Broadway Bound, Rainier Valley Youth Theatre, working with ages ranging from like five years old to 75 years old. 

About 15 years ago, I decided to take the plunge into getting an agent and starting in film and voiceover. And I have been pretty lucky. As far as film, I was able to get a guest star on three TV shows but the place where I’ve gotten the most work has been voiceover work–lots of commercial work, lots of video game work. I absolutely am somebody who can honestly say that I’ve had my dreams come true in many, many different facets. And about six years ago I started teaching voice over and I really love doing it. And I get kind of geeked out and passionate and excited every time that I teach because I love sharing what I love, and I love sharing love of what I do. I just really, really get passionate about sharing it with people who are excited about learning the craft and, and who are really jazzed about the possibility of hearing their voice in something. And I was lucky enough where one of the very first voiceover gigs I got was one of the main characters in a video game that went on to sell over 5 million copies worldwide. I was about 35 at the time, and I’m just jumping up and down in my seat like a big kid. It was absolutely amazing.


What was it that made you decide to try Voiceover?

It was one of those things where I’d always heard “You have a great voice. Maybe you should try doing that or radio.” And I’m also a DJ Karaoke host as well. I had worked a lot in sound, so it was just kind of like a natural transition. So when I went into record for the first time, I wasn’t really intimidated, and it just felt super natural.

One of my biggest dreams came true last year–recording for Marvel. And, you know, when I talk to some people about voiceover–I recorded for Marvel in this very room on this microphone. And this microphone only cost $100. So when I talk to people about it, I try to let them know the attainability of it. And that you don’t, by any means, have to spend tons of money. Some of the software you can get for free. And it’s really, really easy to get started. You just have to know how and where. When I was starting out, a lot of people kept their information very close to the vest. When people ask me, I’m more than happy to give some pointers. And if they want to know more, I’m like, “Hey, here’s how to take a class with me.”


I had the great privilege to see you performing recently in Cost of Living. How do you approach theatre acting as compared to voice acting? 

Well, it’s just such a different beast. Cost of Living–I was so lucky to be part of that project. The interesting thing about the commonality, that normally you don’t have, that I had with Cost of Living, is it was such a small space, it was so intimate [Cost of Living performed at 12th Ave Arts]. I’ve done so much theatre in the park, lots of Shakespeare in the Park, where you have to project as much and enunciate as much as you can. That space [12th Ave Arts] was very, very intimate, and voiceover is also very, very intimate. [As opposed to] most theatre where, you know, it’s Big But Believable, BBB. 

But yeah, a big part of [voiceover] is intimacy. Improv is also very, very big, way bigger than most people would think. So with voiceover it really is important to have a foundation of acting– at least intro to acting and improv. When you do theatre, everything is very much laid out and planned, lots of rehearsal. With voiceover, you’re going to have some time to rehearse, but when you’re recording professionally, you are going to have to improv. And you have to be ready to go and be able to try different things and really have that tool very much sharpened. 


Without giving away too many of your secrets, what can students look forward to doing in your class? 

We’re going to be doing the first six classes on Zoom, and then the last two will be at the studio at Freehold. So folks who take the course will get [both at-home and in studio] experience. Recording in studios doesn’t happen quite so much–more of the recording is done at home. But it is one of those things where you do want to be prepared if it happens. So being able to do that for the last two sessions will be great. 

We’re going to begin class by talking about the differences between voiceover acting and theatre acting and television and film acting. We’re going to talk about certain techniques, microphone techniques, what to expect when you go into a booth, what to expect when you’re working with a voiceover director. Then with film and television, we’re going to be talking about the tech side of everything, what equipment to buy. I basically try to take all the guesswork out of it. Just like–“This is absolutely what I recommend,” and I keep everything under $300. 

And then we get into the business side of things–talking about agents, how to shop for an agent, and talk about the local agents here in Seattle. And talk about demos, the different kinds of demos, what goes into the different kinds of demos, and where to find work. I share with my students basically an Excel spreadsheet with 50 different places to look for work in different facets. And then towards the end, we get into polishing performance and the different kinds of performance, and hopefully be able to tailor it to exactly what kind of voiceover fields the students want to get into. 

In my class, I really want to get people excited about voiceover. Because a lot of the work is done at home, it’s important that you get excited about it, you get self-motivated, and you figure out how to get the ball rolling so you keep on pursuing it.


Anything else you’d like to add?

The other thing that I want to include is that the diversity in the voiceover field expanded overnight, not just the amount of opportunity that is out there, but the diversity of opportunity for people with all different kinds of voices, all different ethnicities, all different access abilities. I want to make sure that people don’t think, “Well, I don’t have a voice for radio.” The ballgame has completely changed. So I really want to encourage–even if people have a higher voice, or they think their voice is too different, or too low and too gravelly…If it’s part of your dream, check it out. 

Freehold is a place where you can learn from so many amazing people who are not just teaching artists, but people who make a living at what they’re teaching. And one of the important things that I know Freehold excels at is having [expert] teachers. Because it’s one thing to just talk about what you do as an artist, it’s another thing to be able to convey it, make it accessible, make it understandable, be able to answer questions, and reframe things if they need to be reframed. 

For me, having been a teacher so long, I really try to make everything accessible, down to earth, and keep things fun, as well. [As a DJ] I really feel that if the DJ is having a good time, it helps other people do the same. The same is true for teachers. If the teacher is excited about teaching, it really helps the students get excited about learning. For me, the main goal of this course is to make sure that you sharpen your skills, you get the equipment, and you learn. And so when we’re all done, you’ll feel ready to jump out there and to start recording and start looking for work. And just basically putting yourself out there.


There are still a few spots open Drew’s Voiceover class. This hybrid class meets on Tuesdays, starting April 9.