5 Ways to Aim High in Voice Acting

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What does it mean to aim high? We’ve all heard the old adage, “Shoot for the stars and you may land on the moon.” We get the sentiment here, but it bears closer inspection. If you were hunting in the forest to feed your hungry family, what you shoot for is the difference between living and dying. You would never hear the hunter say, “Shoot for the buffalo and you may hit a squirrel.” In other words, shooting for the stars and landing on the moon is called missing the target. If, in shooting for the stars, you incorporate a built-in consolation prize, your subconscious mind has given up before the effort begins. An archer aims for the bull’s eye, not in the hope of getting close, but with every intention of hitting it. So, how do you translate this thinking into the pursuit of a successful voice acting career?

Start with the people at the top. Look at the careers of those who are thriving at the top of the voiceover game and identify what makes them successful. Don’t make the mistake of looking at the actors alone. Look at the agents, casting directors, coaches, and producers too. Success is different for different people, so you have to look for what matters to you. For one person, success is about the amount of money you earn. For another, it’s about the quality of the projects on which you work. For you, it may be a balance between making a great living and having quality personal time with your family. The important thing is that you’re identifying a path that’s faithful to your beliefs. Your beliefs, of course, can evolve over time, but your commitment to pursuing your best self is forever.

Big results come from big investments. Building a robust career as a voice actor requires an investment of considerable time, money, and dedicated work. This is the case with any worthwhile pursuit. It doesn’t come easy. Learning traditional acting is much the same. The difference is that traditional acting is taught at any number of accredited institutions offering a proven curriculum and a college degree. You can also find highly regarded private schools, like HB Studios and Stella Adler Studio of Acting. They all offer profoundly successful training programs, but neither offers a significant focus on voice acting. To learn voice acting one must seek out private classes with experienced individuals who have long professional success as voice actors, casting directors, producers, or talent agents. They each have insights unique to their particular roles and each can have an impact on your success.

Get in it to win it. Train like a champion, expect to be challenged, and never give up. Some newcomers try to find the quickest, cheapest way to determine if they have the right stuff to succeed. That kind of thinking may seem prudent, but it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, putting the focus on discovering the point of failure rather than the path to success. If quick and cheap is the way you establish your career, it will also be the nature of your career.

Pay for what you don’t know. You will need a coach who is as dedicated to your success as you are. A genuine coach maintains an authentic reverence for his or her own gifts and is inspired to pass those gifts on to others. A teacher only becomes a teacher by aspiring to the success of the student. The investment you make in a dedicated, experienced teacher is money and time well spent. That you make this investment with an open heart and in honor of your dream is the foreshadowing of your future. As your career moves forward, you will respect your skills and aspire to the highest levels of the industry. This is the foundational stage of your career. Everything else will rest upon it.

Determine your purpose. Setting goals is very different from having a purpose. A purpose is a mission that comes from a desire to arrive at a certain point in life—to create an impactful outcome for yourself and others. Goals, on the other hand, are the milestones you establish on the way to fulfilling your purpose. With voice acting, for example, one’s purpose could be to find the heart of one’s self-expression and share that light with the world. With such a purpose, it’s easy to see how one would be inspired and empowered to move forward. Your purpose is the guiding light within you. It is the catalyst for creating goals. Fly as high and as far as your wings will take you. Wherever you land, assess the situation, reaffirm your purpose, and take flight again.

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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.

Follow them on Twitter: @JoanTheVoice and @RGaskins1, and like them on Facebook: Rudy Gaskins At Large and Joan Baker Live.

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Joan Baker
Joan Baker is Vice President and co-founder of the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS), a nonprofit in support of voice actors, the creators of That’s Voiceover! Career Expo, an annual conference for voice actors, and the creators of the Voice Arts Awards — the premier acknowledgment platform for voice actors worldwide.
See full bio and articles here!
Author Headshot
Rudy Gaskins
Rudy Gaskins is the CEO and co-founder of the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS), a nonprofit in support of voice actors, the creators of That’s Voiceover! Career Expo, an annual conference for voice actors, and the creators of the Voice Arts Awards — the premier acknowledgment platform for voice actors worldwide.
See full bio and articles here!