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Ep. 3: What makes a voice masculine or feminine? What does it mean to have a “gay” voice?

“Maybe the voice is the root of vulnerability for a human, and we just don’t really realize it.” – Kevin Whitmire

On this episode of Speaking Of… I’m chatting with my friend Kevin Whitmire, an actor and teaching artist based in LA. 

Kevin and I start off by talking about performance and how he changes his voice for each role. We then dive into his question: what makes a voice masculine or feminine?

What follows is a fascinating conversation about what constitutes our most “real” voice and how speech and acting coaches can reinforce stereotypes about how certain groups of people do – or should – speak. 

We also talk about having a “gay” voice, feeling uncomfortable when you hear yourself on a recording, and the vulnerability of speaking aloud.

Interview Highlights:

  • What makes a voice more masculine, feminine, or androgynous?

  • How speech trainers can encourage people to speak in a way that prescribes or reinforces stereotypes about voice/speech.

  • How societal biases about how men and women are supposed to speak can affect our self-perception.

  • Why it can feel so vulnerable to speak aloud. 

  • The difference between speaking in a relaxed way with friends versus a more calculated, patient approach to speaking.

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