“I’m a narrator.” No, you’re not.

“I’m a narrator.” No, you’re not.

“I’m a narrator.”

No, you’re not, actually.

When you sit down in front of a microphone with a script or story and you record your voice, you’re a voice actor. Maybe not a professional voice actor, but a voice actor nonetheless.

Make no mistake: it doesn’t matter if you’re voicing a cartoon or being the voice of a corporate video, you’re always a character. A narrator is a role in a cast. The cast might only consist of that one role, but you’re still a character in it. So when you tell people “I’m a narrator” like it’s a profession, what you’re actually saying is “I’m absolving myself of needing to tell you this story in an engaging way and you shouldn’t expect a decent performance from me.” I’m sorry, but you’re not getting off the hook with that.

Is it semantics? No. It’s not. Being an actor – whether it’s on the stage, on the screen, or through someone’s headphones – is a responsibility to breathe life and meaning into a narrative. Your audience, whether they know it or not, wants to form a connection with you. That’s an inherent part of being human. A voice actor, playing the role of a narrator, uses all the same tools a stage or screen actor does: careful enunciation and delivery, correct pronunciation, vocal dynamics, emotion, timing, intonation, even physicality! You transform into the character of the storyteller. When you do that, it’s not a narration, it’s a performance.

Do you as an audience member want to hear someone tell you a story in a sterile, wooden way that lacks emotion or any kind of connection? No! Why would you waste your time and set yourself up to be bored and disinterested? So if you do this kind of thing for fun and especially if you do it professionally, when someone asks you what you do, don’t say “I’m a narrator.” Instead tell them “I’m a voice actor. I play a narrator in audio productions.”

You are not a narrator. You are an actor.