About 99 percent of those who want a career in voiceover acting assume a simple path to success. Success is different for different people and can be described in terms of attainment, admiration from others, material wealth, and self-realization. Each of us has his own idea of how success should look, but, to be clear, you’re not likely to succeed at achieving it until you experience certain failures in life.
The key is to identify the failures so that you can embrace them as opportunities that move you forward. It’s also important tolearn to avoid certain failures entirely—especially repeated failures. Repeatedly failing in the same way is akin to madness, but failingdifferently each time can be uplifting. Here are several failures you can embrace to good effect. It’s not an exhaustive list but a general reference for embracing your failures as opportunities for growth.
1. Failing at love. If you had to pick a single moment in your life that had the greatest influence on the person you are today, you could probably single out a love interest (or a best friend) where everything fell apart because of you. You may never truly appreciate a meaningful relationship until you ruin one. Novels, songs, and sonnets have been written.
You can move on quickly if the other person blows it, but when you only have yourself to blame, you learn lessons that stick with you. You learn that you are capable of singlehandedly sabotaging your own success and that’s an enlightened state of being. A voiceover career is largely about relationships. Ignore this reality at your peril.
2. An uninspired career. It’s not typical to figure out your lifetime career the first time out. If you’re going to find your passion in life, you may have to explore a variety of options. Many students have come to us with disdain for their day jobs. Others are just desperately ready for a job that inspires them. Voiceover acting may be the thing that finally reveals or fulfills your passion. It is not a quick fix, however, and requires hard work. The choice is yours.
3. Financial hardship. Most of us learn a lot from being poor college students or young adults trying to figure out how to pay our bills and have money left over for a little fun. We learn through the consequences of wasting money and overindulgence. If you embrace this opportunity as a teachable moment you will likely learn a deeper appreciation for money. You will learn about wastefulness and overindulgence such that you become more appreciative of what you have.
As with any worthwhile career, you will have to invest money and time to succeed in voiceover acting. It will include trial and error as you sort through the multitude of training offers and come to grips with your own ability to perform.
4. Failing to realize your greatness. If you subscribe to the highest spiritual teachings of the gurus of past and present, you will at some point recognize that you are everything you need to be. You are among the universal sparks that make up the great “everything.” As such, there is no one greater than you and you are greater than no one. We often judge ourselves by comparison to others. Once we accept that we have better options than the “comparative mind,” we can choose a healthier mindset—one that acknowledges one’s greatness. As a voice actor, your personal talent is at stake. You need every advantage to weather the vagaries of auditions, competition, trends, and relationships.
5. Failing to accept problems. Of course, there will be problems. If you don’t have problems then you’re not alive as we commonly understand the term. Problems are a normal part of life, not a set of issues you will someday solve and be done with. There will always be problems, period. We do, however, get to choose whether we want to deal with petty problems or big meaningful problems which, when solved, elevate our lives.
6. Failing to plan. The reason humankind reigns supreme among other species is that we better understand the relationship between cause and effect. As children, we tend to want what we want when we want it. When we can’t get it, we cry. Children cry as much as they do because they’re in an intense learning phase. What they eventually learn is methodology. As adults we often forget how important it is to consider methodology— observing and calculating. We’re often less skilled at such observations than when we were toddlers. There’s always something new to observe, always something new to contemplate and calculate. A voiceover career must be mapped out. If you want to maximize your chances for success, take a long-term, bird’s-eye view of your career and leave room for flexibility.
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Joan Baker is the author of "Secrets of Voiceover Success," and the winner of multiple Promax and Telly awards for commercial and documentary voiceover performances. She is an actor, voice actor, and teacher. Baker trains individuals and groups in the craft of voice acting and VO career management. She has written trade articles for Backstage, Adweek, Multichannel and Broadcast & Cable.
Rudy Gaskins, is an Emmy Award-winning creative director and branding expert. He launched Push Creative Advertising in 2001, after holding executive roles at Court TV and Food Network. His accounts span American Express, Tribeca Film Festival, Lexus and BET. Rudy has written, produced and directed hundreds of commercials, promos, and marketing campaigns and has directed documentaries for PBS.
Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins are the co-founders of That’s Voiceover!, an annual career expo, and the creators of the newly formed Society of Voice Arts and Sciences and the Voice Arts Awards.
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