Ntombi Meso on Finding Your Voice in Voice Artistry

They are ubiquitous but also a mystery, we hear them a few times a day but no one really sees them. They gently nudge us into making a purchase as they soft-sell or just fall short of instructing us to make said purchase when they hard sell.

Some help you navigate the maze that is airports or express train stations while others bring life to that animated character your child or sibling loves. Voice Over Artists/artistry. The beautiful art of using one’s voice for a variety of different of outlets, from television, radio, movies, on-hold messages, video games and now audio books; the list is nearly endless.

They play mainly in the realm of theatre of the mind – the voice over has to complement the energy and feel of the visual, while on radio it has to put me at the beach for example if the advert’s setting is at the beach. Surely that takes a degree of skill and expertise. Expertise that are some levels higher than say reading a poem in front of a class. Tone, cadence, unrivalled but natural sounding clarity, are but some of the skills one may need to possess or hone to be a successful voice over artist.

For more we had the privilege to pick the brain of one of the country’s most proficient voice over artists, a colleague in women in media, a colleague at Radio2000, Ntombi Meso.


Ntombi, yours is such an enigma of an industry within an industry, so let’s start here: how does one get into the profession? Is there one way and how did you get in?

There are a few ways to get into the VoiceOver industry. You can approach a talent agency,  you can be discovered on social media or you can accidentally stumble across the industry like I did because of my work on radio.


We’ve always heard of the concept of a voice for radio, is it the same in voice over artistry? Need we have an extraordinary voice like your own?

No at all, the two are very different. When you are on radio you have to be your true authentic self because that’s how you connect with the listener. However, when it comes to voice overs, you get into different characters depending on the script and what the client wants. Hence the term “voice actor/ voice acting”.


In a country that has 11 official languages but also with English as our lingua franca, would you advice one focusses on English or are there benefits to taking advantage of our diverse dialects?

Being multi lingual in the voice over industry is a huge advantage! I actually envy Voice Over Artists that speak multiple languages because they get booked more. There’re massive opportunities to make serious money purely because of language. It’s just sad that not many black people speak pure vernac (vernacular). Our languages are diluted and dying.


We mentioned above that voice work isn’t only limited to commercials but there are a myriad of spaces in society where a voice artist may be required. Kindly tell us about some non-mainstream voice work you’ve done.

I’ve narrated a documentary. I have voiced telephone systems for most of the major banks. I’ve done a few cartoon characters.


Let’s talk day in the life. What goes into preparing for a recording? From the moment you get the script ‘till the engineer’s version of “cut.

You often get the script moments before the recording. So, I would quickly go through the script for understanding, the client would then give me direction on how they would like the script to be read/delivered. I drink a lot of room temperature water before and during the recording to keep my vocal cords hydrated. I get into the recording booth and read a couple of takes and when the client is happy the session is done. This could take 15mins or 4 hours depending on what you are recording.


For the beginner voice artist, what are 3 tips you wish you would’ve gotten when you started out that would’ve made the world of a difference?

  • BE VISIBLE! Use your social media platforms to showcase your voice!
  • BE MONEY WISE! Understand the industry voice over rates so that you don’t under charge!
  • NETWORK! Create or join a community of voice over artists and exchange knowledge with each other.


What’s one interesting thing that we may not know about voice work?

It’s actually hard work. People often think you just speak but it’s a lot more than that. I’ve been in studio sessions where once I was done, I was dripping wet with sweat and super exhausted, LOL!


We see you constantly trying to open this world for more people, especially young people. Why is that important to you and kindly share some of these projects you are working on.

Opening up the industry is so important to me. Most young Black people don’t know about voiceovers or think it is something they cannot do. This industry has been closed for some time (and mostly still is), it also has a lot of gatekeepers, making it difficult for a very talented girl from Soweto to know about this industry and the opportunities. Now that I am in the industry I have access to gigs and most importantly information that I share on my social media platforms.


Where do you see your voice talent taking you? Replacing MC Lyt at the Grammys?    

That is actually on my 2023 vision board, LOL! I would love to be the “voice of god” at award ceremonies like Miss SA, SAMA Awards and even go international with the BET Awards, Oscars and Grammys.


For more tips and tricks follow @ntombi_meso on Instagram and TikTok

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