It’s my career and a job, but to others, being a voice actor is fascinating.
You know what I think is fascinating? Making your dreams come true.
Every once in a while, I am asked to speak to groups about being a voice actor and/or my life experience. In the past couple of months, I have had the honor of speaking to a university class, and several high school art/theatre classes.
Today, I spoke to some high school classes, about 50-75 kids. They were a wonderful audience, and had great questions for me about the types of voices I can do, how long it takes me to record a commercial in session, and more.
We covered the gamut about running a business, and touched on many a topic, including branding, relationships and social media, being disciplined, and most importantly, following your heart to live your dream.
I can talk about running a voice over business all day, and yeah, voice over is incredible and fun and creative!
But talking about following your dreams and making them come true… THAT gets me excited!! That is a message I love to impart to anyone who will listen.
You see, I worked in corporate America for 10+ years before becoming a voice actor. I’d never set foot in a radio or TV station, and had barely ever spoken in to a microphone. But, I knew I wanted to be a voice actor. My first memory of voice over is going to Walt Disney World and hearing that magical voice over the speakers on the monorail or throughout the park. (The original voice, by the way, is that of Jack Wagner.)
But, what a pipe dream, right?
Or so I thought.
After working in a grey/green cubicle, traveling, going to client dinners, dressing in smart suits and pantyhose (they were still a thing when I was working in the corporate world), I decided to take a leap.
I always loved singing when I was growing up, and was active in my high school choirs, as well as in the University (of Florida) Choir. Singing was cathartic for me. My high school chorus teacher, Mrs. Sandra White, was my favorite teacher of all time, and frankly, she still is today. Were it not for her, I wouldn’t have learned the love of voice and music, and how therapeutic it can be. I’m fortunate that through social media, she and I can keep in touch.
But I’m not the greatest vocalist… certainly not good enough for a career. And, the other thing I love is words. So, I put the two together, and thought about giving voice acting a try.
Long story short, it wasn’t easy to become a voice actor. Not even a little bit easy. I was terrible, frankly. I had no experience – no broadcast experience, no acting experience, no improv experience, and I’d worked in a very buttoned up corporate world for years. Matter of fact, once I was hired for my first voice over job, I was fired/replaced after recording it. It was for a scratch track for a television show pitch.
That’s right, I wasn’t even good enough for a scratch.
I sobbed and sobbed. Then, I picked myself up, decided I needed to work harder, learn more, and get better. I found acting and improv classes to take. I found a different voice over coach. I auditioned everything I could get my hands on. I read out loud every.single.day. For months and months.
Then, I started booking… small things… but booking nonetheless. And one thing I really enjoyed doing were toy commercials. They were my wheelhouse, for sure. One day, I booked a series of television commercials for Hannah Montana toys produced by a Disney licensee.
I took that (marketing) ball and ran with it. I marketed to everyone I could think of, and built my business.
I think I’m one of the rare people in this business, who came from zero background, and am blessed to make a full-time living in voice over. I make a living using my voice.
I am absolutely, positively certain that if you have dream… to be a voice actor, an artist, a teacher, an actor, an athlete… whatever you dream to be and do with your life… you CAN. You absolutely, positively can make it happen. Don’t give up. Make a plan. Set goals. Surround yourself with people who will support you, and encourage you. When you fall, get back up. Make (another) plan. Rinse and repeat. I promise you, if you truly want to make something come true, you will