Many people who come to us for voiceover training ask if they can begin with an assessment to determine if they have the right stuff to be successful. It’s a fair question to ask, but it belies the opportunity for a fuller investigation that is best conducted by the student. Some people have a knack for voice acting and that’s easy to see on the surface. For others, the knack doesn’t emerge until the student puts in a certain amount of work under the appropriate guidance. Sometimes it takes time to tease out an individual’s potential, and some people quit before that happens.
Still the question is fair. People get into voice acting to earn a living and they want to know if they’re making a good investment. Most can accept finding out that they’re not cut out for it, but few can swallow the idea that a voiceover teacher took all their money while having no faith in the possibility of their success.
After more than 20 years of teaching voice acting and tracking the careers of our clients, we’ve come to realize that the question of whether you can succeed is best answered by the student. In all honesty, the best thing the teacher can do for a student, by way of assessment, is to identify which skills must be developed to fulfill the requirements of the job. Of course, this leads to another question: “How long will it take for me to learn the necessary skills?” We’ve rendered estimates in this regard, but only after working extensively with the student, getting to know them, and empowering them in the process of determining their readiness.
Your potential to be successful in voiceover, or any field, requires personal attributes which a teacher cannot know without working with you over time. Will you do the practice, the homework, and the vocal drills? Will you consistently show up for training and give your all to the process? As teachers, we don’t tell students what they can’t do. We point to what there is to do and show you how to do it.
When you think about it, it takes quite a bit of arrogance to tell someone what they cannot become. The great Misty Copeland is a perfect example. Here’s the body of one of the rejection letters she received at age 13: “Thank you for your application to our ballet academy. Unfortunately, you have not been accepted. You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length, and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet, and at 13, you are too old to be considered.” Just about two weeks ago, 19 years later, Copeland became the first African American to be named a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. Clearly, something inside her— something the teachers could not readily see—kept her fire alive and allowed her to blaze her own trail.
We highly recommend that you explore all your questions with your teacher, but we strongly encourage the voiceover student to look within. To that end, we’ve provided a simple, multiple choice quiz that will help you examine your inner conversation about succeeding in voice acting. The only requirement is that you’re honest with yourself when you answer the questions. Once you submit your answers, you will receive a general evaluation that may help you determine what’s next for your career.
Click the icon below to take the quiz.
Inspired by this story? Check out our voiceover audition listings!
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.