As the Director of Voiceover at Coast to Coast Talent Group, Portia Scott is the only African American women in Hollywood heading a major department in the same discipline.
“As one of Portia Scott’s clients, she is a force of nature when it comes to representation. With her keen ear, and understanding of the craft of acting, I have booked multiple Animated Series , such as “Spidey and his Amazing Friends” one of Disney Jr’s hit shows, “The Cuphead Show” and “Cyberpunk:Edgerunners “ both streaming on Netflix . Portia Scott is a true professional and a joy to work with,” says Melique Berger, who is an actor, voice director and voice over coach.
With 25 years of experience as a voiceover agent, Portia represents both adult and youth talent in all areas of voiceover. Her client roster is among the top talent in the industry having worked on animated Academy Award & Golden Globe awarded films such as Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio and Toy Story 4. Further recent notable animation feature credits include Space Jam: A New Legacy, Raya and the Last Dragon, Over the Moon, Wish Dragon, Into The Spider Verse, Blue’s Big City Adventure, AINBO: Spirit of the Amazon, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Abominable, Inside Out, UP and Frozen.
“As a Casting Executive, I have been working with Portia for going on a decade now in the VO space and she has been completely wonderful to partner with. She not only understands the nuances of what it takes for an actor to perform, but what it takes to shift that into VO, which requires a special and unique set of skills. Over the years we have had many of her clients land leading roles across our various projects who have all been incredibly talented and fantastic to work with,” offers Roxanne Escatel who is Vice President of Animation Casting & Talent Relations at Nickelodeon Animation Studio.
Leveraging her strong relationships with top animation studios, Portia has secured client roles on animated television series on Disney, Nickelodeon, Netflix, Cartoon Network, Marvel, HBO, Paramount+, Pixar TV, LucasFilm/TV and DreamWorks Animation. Portia Scott sat down with Forbes to talk about her career journey from acting to agent and all the interesting steps in between.
Goldie Chan: Thank you for joining us, Portia! Can you tell us what your career path has been?
Portia Scott: I would characterize my career path as being highly introspective and adaptable. At the beginning of my career, I studied and acquired extensive MFA degrees in theater arts at the University of Long Beach for undergraduate and postgraduate studies at New York University. My passion for film and theater drove me to pursue a career as a trained performance actor, insofar as I experimented with writing and directing one-woman shows early in my career. Subsequently, my curiosity and passion for the film industry grew as I held multiple positions in the studio sector within the development of casting and feature film marketing. My innovative experience working at a studio, growing love for casting for films, and the combination of her experience as an actress led me to my current job as a voiceover agent and holding the title of Director of Voiceover at Coast to Coast Talent Group.
Chan: How has the landscape of voice over changed over the last two years?
Scott: The landscape of voiceover has expanded over the past two years. The epidemic gave the voiceover industry a chance to flourish, which enabled studios and production companies to increase that line of business in response to the rising need for voiceover projects and talent. Second, the process of voice-over diversity has significantly increased. In response to the social racial reckoning society experienced in 2020, studios and production companies became more socially aware and saw the need and market demand for diverse talent within the industry. We are now exposed to content produced by individuals of color, not just the classics or reruns of past programs, but fresh material. More than before, individuals of color are represented at the decision-making table from the first phases of planning all the way to completion of a project.
Chan: How would you describe your personal brand?
Scott: My personal brand would be described as ambitious, inventive, creative, transparent, levity, determined, and passionate.
Chan: What are different types of voiceover work now available?
Scott: Voiceover work includes animation, video games-motion capture, commercials, movie trailers, promos, e-learning, medical, and corporate.
Chan: How can new talent prepare to submit for a voiceover agent or manager?
Scott: You must first create a voice-over demo reel to be recognized by an agent. Prior to releasing a demo reel, research is essential. I would advise creating a modest curriculum for fresh talent that has never worked in the field previously. First and foremost, talent should explore taking acting lessons, especially improv classes, voice-over classes, potentially looking into private coaching, and going to voice-over conferences, of which there are several that I would recommend: Voiceover Atlanta, One Voice, and the Society of Voiceover Arts. Similarly, meeting executives and industry representatives like Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins, who are the creators and coordinators of the amazing Society of Voice Arts and the Voiceover Career Expo conferences where fresh talent can attend and see what the industry is like, Lastly, I would also advise spending a year perfecting your art and learning about the voiceover business, as well as perfecting your home studio.
Chan: What are you currently working on?
Scott: I am currently working on highly exciting upcoming projects with the following studios: Marvel, Pixar, Disney, Nickelodeon, Disney Television and Animation, Netflix, Cartoon Network, Disney, Disney, Disney, Disney, Disney, and DreamWorks.
Chan: What change would you like to see in your industry?
Scott: I would like to see more diversity in the voice-over industry, including representation of all sexual orientations, races, and genders among voice agents, producers, casting directors, engineers, and writers, in addition to talent. Additionally increasing diversity on the project and content development side to level the playing field and give underrepresented communities more opportunities. I would adore to see talent agencies introduce an exploratory program – say, an internship – to historically black colleges to invite diversity and introduce voiceover professions to the next generation.
Chan: Any branding or career advice for this new year?
Scott: I would advise actors to have consistent branding, as well as a website and social media accounts that reflect their work. I would also suggest a display and reflective career journey of previous clients’ logos to be displayed on your website, as well as clips and reels of your work to pique an agent’s or a potential client’s interest. I would make certain that you are up to date on industry trends. For example, if I were a commercial voice-actor, I would look for new trends and make sure my voice is market-appropriate. As well as staying ahead of the curve and up to date on all the necessary tools and equipment to improve your product for voice acting, whether it’s a new microphone or otherwise.