Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

Easy Errors

Here are some common errors for beginners to avoid.

  1. Being too fearful or nervous to start.

Scared of stage or microphone? Take a deep breath and realize that taking a voice acting class or auditioning for a play is far from signing up for the marines. You are merely exploring a new hobby, like taking a guitar lesson or a class in tennis, seeing if you enjoy it.

Early learning of anything takes effort and isn’t always “fun.” You may be unsure or feel off-kilter in trying something new. But that’s good! Overall, you are trying something to see if you enjoy the process of learning it.

2. Placing too much emphasis on business and not enough on becoming a capable artist.

Many start chasing voice acting because they envision a “career.” They frame it in business terms, which, for a beginner, puts the cart before the horse.

It usually plays out is that you explore and develop your talent and skills first, then- if it goes well- you eventually turn to getting a demo, an agent, marketing yourself, etc.

First plant the seeds and see what blossoms. Opening the flower shop is for much later!

3. Being drawn to VO for money or financial success.

If you are motivated to pursue acting of any kind because of money, work or fame, you will go no where. If your motivation is limited to booking a gig it won’t help you either.

Your efforts should be founded in curiosity, enjoyment, fun and a love of the creative process. Not money, approval or applause.

4. Seeing an actor’s goal as mainly just getting a gig/work.

Your focus should be on connecting with the script and emotion- on auditioning well and making a performance that is irresistible- not booking a gig.

4. Misreading acting or auditioning as being about “people pleasing” or getting people to like you.

You cannot “friendly your way” into a gig, let alone an acting career.

Beginners can present themselves as too deferential and too polite, especially in auditions. It’s understandable that an actor may undervalue themself, since actors face constant rejection.

But even a beginner should value their work and take pride in their effort, their struggle, their progress. If your confidence is founded in others’ approval, you are powerless. But if your confidence is founded in what you make– your performance- then you have power- a power that you can strengthen and grow.

Being polite, ingratiating or “likable” aren’t an actor’s objectives. Your job isn’t eliciting smiles or personal strokes. It’s to do good work. Any meaningful praise flows from that.

5. Taking rejection to heart.

It happens to all actors regularly: You miss an opportunity, you bomb an audition or flub an interview. But you must understand a rejection or creative or business face plant is about your work, not you.

There is usually good reason for your not booking, but it’s not a personal indictment of your worth or value as a human. It’s merely a chance to learn to do better next time.

An actor will not long survive if they take rejection or hardship personally.

Honesty is a gift, even if it is couched as a rejection. Found your pride and confidence on the endless enjoyment of improving your craft, on creating and collaborating, on riding the ups and downs of the process.

6. Art first, business later!

Many teachers of varied competency happily charge beginners for what is essentially business advice & info. This is fine, but this isn’t the most important focus of a professional artist and is a premature consideration for beginners, who should instead apply their efforts to learning to act, improv and read fluently. That is, creative growth bolstered by technical facility.

7. Practice makes perfect?

No, practice makes permanent. You must practice the right things, otherwise you’re just reinforcing the wrong things.

Learning an art goes beyond practice or exercises. Learning VO is about learning to be an actor, which is also about creating, collaborating, filling your life, letting yourself free, learning to improvise, discovering what makes you and other humans tick, what motivates behavior, and many other things.

8. Not realizing that an audition is its own show.

Acting well and auditioning well are separate but complementary skills. You can be good at one but not necessarily the other. A good actor strives to master both.

9. Underestimating the effort needed to forge a career of voice acting.

The A-listers may make VO look fun and easy, but it takes years of persistence and experience to get so good you can throw it off like it was nothing. And even if you are already that good, it will still take a lot of time to earn the trust of “gate keepers” in your abilities, your dependability and unique stand out capacities.

Which is to say, talent isn’t nearly enough to have a career.

2 Responses »

  1. I […] live on a small island off the coast of Cambodia. What are the chances I can get voice work based on where on from (and if I was any good)

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