Actor, audio engineer, and director are three distinct roles involved in any voice production. Although voice actors that manage their own studio hold each of these roles, there will be many instances in which external partners will want to help guide the creation of content.
A metaphor I have used when describing the dynamic between actor, audio engineer, and director is that of an artist drawing a portrait: the audio engineer is the paint brush, the actor is the colours of paint, and the director is the painters hand. Together, they create!
In this metaphor, each role plays an important part in making the portrait beautiful and you can easily imagine how if one fails to contribute, be it the brush is damaged, the paint is dry, or the hand is shaky, the portrait doesn't turn out so well. So how can a voice actor set themselves up for success when various elements of a production could be outside of their control?
I recently worked with a new director on a project that utilized a very regimental approach to recording. The process was a challenge as it was resulting in a more static performance than desired. Essentially, the director wasn't utilizing my full range of 'colour', and at the end of the day, despite the director having overall project vision, this was resulting in a flatter delivery in performance.
This is a tough situation to be in as an actor, essentially your boss is telling you to do something in the wrong way resulting in a poor outcome.
Luckily, there are a few easy things to keep in mind when you find yourself in this situation.
Don't Stay the Course: If something isn't working don't force it, take a momentary break, and make an immediate adjustment with the director.
Lay Heavily on Your Strengths: If something is pushing you away from your strengths, push back! Its a directors job to push you in the right direction, to get the best performance from you, if they are pushing you in a direction incompatible with your skillset push back.
Reflect on the Process: Look back after the session and ask yourself what adjustments you as an actor can make with the director before your next session, and then actively approach them with your ideas in advance.