• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Meet Emmanuel Afemikhe, entrepreneur building global brand for African voiceover artists to thrive

Meet Emmanuel Afemikhe, entrepreneur building global brand for African voiceover artists to thrive

Emmanuel Macaulay Afemikhe is the founder of Voiceover Workshop & Media. Popularly known as King E Afemikhe, he has over 13 years of industry experience and is also the convener of The Voiceover Conference.

In this interview with BDWeekender, Afemikhe shared his story and insights on how African voiceover artists can thrive in a market projected to be worth $11 billion. He also discussed the impact of AI-generated voiceovers on the future of the industry.

Can you tell us about your journey from being a stage actor and music recording artist to becoming a successful voiceover artist, producer, and trainer? How has your background influenced your work in the voiceover industry?

My journey has been quite an adventure and each step has shaped who I am today. After my dad retired from the military, we moved from Minna, Niger State to Jiwa, in Abuja, where I attended Government Secondary School, Jiwa.

My passion for acting started in church, and I joined a theatre group, performing at various events and even TV stations. Our team lead at the time, Prince Zoba Icon Peters, was dedicated to helping young people discover their dreams through acting.

When I completed my secondary school education, my parents retired to our village in Okpella, Edo State, while I moved to Lagos in 2006. I joined my church’s drama department where I continued acting on stage.

I also loved gospel rap music and this led me to meet Wole Adesanya, who became my producer and friend. In 2011, he introduced me to voiceover, giving me my first few opportunities, and teaching me audio production and engineering.

In 2016, I organized my first voiceover training session and some others, although the initial ones had mixed success. By 2019, I had found my stride and have been training aspiring voiceover artists ever since.

What key milestones marked your growth and achievements in the voiceover industry over the past 13 years?

Over the past 13 years, my journey in the voiceover industry has been incredible. From starting as a beginner, I have grown into a seasoned professional with numerous brands and awards to my name.

I have trained hundreds of students through my company, Voiceover Workshops and Media, organized Nigeria’s first-ever Voice Acting Contest, now known as VOStar, and created a weekly voiceover challenge during COVID-19 that rewarded new voiceover artists with cash prizes.

Additionally, I convene The Voiceover Conference, an annual event which is Africa’s pioneering and largest voiceover event.

Today, I am grateful to have been able to work my way into becoming one of the thought leaders in the African voiceover industry. There is still a lot of collective work ahead, but I will keep contributing from my corner as much as I can through trainings, master classes, webinars, speaking engagements and conferences.

Could you share some of the challenges you’ve encountered along the way and how you’ve overcome them to reach where you are today?

The journey to where I am today has been quite a ride, filled with its fair share of challenges. When I first started in the voiceover industry, I was pretty clueless about a lot of things. I didn’t know the standard rates, how to network effectively, or even how to find clients. It was tough trying to navigate this new world.

Another big challenge was funding. Voiceover work in Africa is still relatively new, so getting financial support for things like competitions or conferences was a real struggle.

Then there was the issue of negotiation. It took me some time to understand how to negotiate with clients and get paid what I was worth. It was a whole new skill set I had to learn.

But perhaps the toughest part was getting gigs, especially in the beginning when I wasn’t exactly a well-known name in the industry. It was a constant hustle to land projects and make a name for myself.

However, I didn’t let any of these challenges hold me back. I kept on learning, about my voice, about the industry, and about how to make a living from my passion. And slowly but surely, things started to fall into place. It was a gradual process, but here I am today, grateful for the journey and excited for what’s to come.

With the global voiceover market projected to reach USD 11 billion by 2026, how can African voiceover artists position themselves strategically to tap into this growing market?

To tap into the expanding global voiceover market, African voiceover artists can employ various strategies. Firstly, they should focus on developing a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets them apart from others. This could include highlighting their accent, language proficiency, or specialized expertise that can help them stand out in a competitive field.

Investing in continuous professional development is also crucial for staying relevant in the industry. This involves constantly honing skills through ongoing training and practice while staying informed about emerging trends and technologies.

Lastly, building a strong online presence and networking with industry professionals are essential steps for success. Establishing and engaging with social media platforms allows artists to showcase their work and connect with potential clients. Additionally, attending industry events such as The Voiceover Conference and collaborating can lead to valuable opportunities and partnerships, further expanding their reach in the global voiceover market.

How do you see technology shaping the voiceover industry, and what role do you believe it will play in the future of voiceover work?

Technology is changing the voiceover industry and its impact will keep growing. Now, voiceover artists can make top-notch recordings right from their homes with accessible recording equipment and software. This means anyone with talent, even from remote or less developed areas can show and share what they have with the world.

Similarly, technology is making the whole production process faster and smoother. With tools for remote collaboration and online casting, it is now easier for voiceover artists to find work and connect with clients.

In future, I think technology will play an even bigger role. We might see cool innovations like voice cloning and virtual reality changing how voiceover work is done and enjoyed. For voiceover artists, embracing these changes will be key to thriving in the future.

Do you think advancements in AI-generated voiceovers is a threat to traditional voiceover artists, or do you see opportunities for collaboration and innovation instead?

As King E Afemikhe, I see AI-generated voiceovers as a complement rather than a threat to traditional voiceover artists.

While AI technology has made significant advancements in generating realistic-sounding voiceovers, certain aspects of voiceover work still require the human touch.

While emotion, variation, and interpretation are some elements that AI-generated voices can struggle to replicate convincingly, traditional voiceover artists bring a depth of emotion and creativity to their work that is hard to match with AI.

Additionally, clients often seek out voiceover artists for their unique tone, style, and personality, and that can be difficult for AI to mimic authentically.

Thus, voiceover artists can also explore new ways to integrate AI technology into their work, such as using it to enhance their performances or create new and unique voiceover experiences. Instead of viewing the technology as a threat, they can see AI as an opportunity for collaboration and innovation. It helps in automating certain aspects of the production process and generating multiple takes or translations quickly.

Truly, AI-generated voiceovers may reshape the industry, but the unique qualities and emotional depth that traditional voiceover artists provide will always be in demand.

As someone deeply involved in training and empowering voiceover talents, what are your aspirations for the industry, particularly in Africa, in the coming years?

I see a bright future for the voiceover industry in Africa and my vision for this field revolves around three main goals: unity, empowerment, and global acknowledgement.

Firstly, I am eager to strengthen the bonds among African voiceover talents through connections, encouraging collaboration, and providing platforms for interaction. This can help us elevate each other, share valuable insights, and collectively enhance the quality of voiceover work across the continent.

Empowerment is key. I am also committed to continuing to train and mentor voiceover artists throughout Africa, arming them with the skills and know-how to stand out in this competitive field. Through workshops, online seminars, and other initiatives, I aim to empower a new wave of African voiceover talents.

Lastly, I have a dream that African voiceover artists will gaining more recognition worldwide showcasing our diverse talents, rich cultural backgrounds, and distinctive voices. We can take advantage of this to attract international clients and projects, opening doors to exciting new opportunities and more avenues for growth.