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

Afraid of Acting?

“I’ve been thinking about trying voice acting. Should I? It all seems so [difficult/ lonely/ uncertain/ scary, etc.]”

Well, acting is all those things. And so what? If your goal is comfort, go get a massage, but don’t choose to be an actor. If you’re just afraid of trying it, then either get over it and try it or find something else to do. Despite all excuses, you must want it enough to overcome all of this! Acting is about “doing” not “thinking about doing!” And an actor’s life is never about feeling safe and secure. 

You gotta put your self out there to be an actor. You can feel exposed and scared, but it can be exciting and fun, too. If you think you want to try this but never seem to get around to it, perhaps you don’t want it enough. Perhaps acting feels too daunting or it’s not right for you, in which case, you won’t go for it.

But if you want something enough, you will at least give it a good try, I’d hope. If it works out, great! If not, you’ve learned from it and you move on. If you find it thrilling and fun you’ll keep it up.

Still hesitating? Ask yourself “What is the worst that can happen if I try this?” and “What am I afraid of?”  “Are my fears well-founded enough to prevent me from going for it?” Take a hard, honest look into yourself. You may find your fear is insubstantial and isn’t worth the power you give it over your ability to decide and act on what you want to do.

So either try acting/ voice overs– or don’t. Just don’t twiddle your thumbs too long. Life’s too short for that, right? And please don’t ask for my permission to give it a try, or to give anything a try. Don’t ask anyone!

The only person you need to ask permission of is yourself.

“I don’t know if I have enough talent to become a voice actor…”

Try things because you like them or are curious, not because you (or anyone else) thinks you have “talent,” or some clear path to a career. To start, forget about all that. It’s for much later.

It took me 25 years of acting/performing for fun before I realized I had enough talent to voice act professionally (earn my living at it) and that I wanted to commit to that. Turns out, some things you are good at you won’t enjoy doing and some things you enjoy doing you aren’t all that great at. But if you enjoy doing it, then do it!

No one- including you- can say for sure if you have what it takes to do anything really well- until you try it for a while- sometimes for a very long while. But none of that should matter if it’s fun for you- that’s the reason to do it.

A more objective affirmation of talent can come much, much later.

Learn like a baby!

Everyone who’s now a working voice/actor started at the very beginning, just like you. Yes, it seems daunting and intimidating to take the first steps of what may be a long journey, but it’s just one step after the other. Focus on that. What’s so hard about taking a step? And then another?

Want to know how to learn well and quickly? Look to the ultimate learning machine– a baby. Is a baby afraid to take it’s first steps? No. Does a baby stop trying to walk after repeatedly falling or taking a few bumps? No! Is a baby dissuaded from even trying because of the long road ahead? No! The little tyke learns from the stumbles and face plants and doesn’t give up. That’s why a baby is crawling one week then walking the next!

A baby’s incredible developmental quantum leaps are made possible by putting obstacles and missteps to good use and ignoring the frustration of missteps! We grownups too often focus on obstacles, we manufacture and reinforce our own obstacles before the journey has begun! We pre think everything and plant pessimism along our future unnecessarily.

But optimistic little babies are not distracted by this nonsense. They are unbendingly focused on achieving their goals step by step. They learn and grow without the distraction of self-imposed mental blocks.

That’s why I say, “Be the baby!”

The only permission you ever need to take a step forward is your own.

Okay. For those still sitting on the fence: If you want to try voice/acting–or anything, really– no one is going to wave some kind of checkered flag to get you moving forward. Sitting around wishing and wanting will ensure that you never leave the starting block. Don’t waste your time or life waiting for someone else to wave that flag and start the race for you! Your own permission is all that matters!

23 Responses »

  1. …my native language is Spanish, is there a way i can do voice acting..? It doesn’t matter for me if i don’t earn any money from it,i see this voice acting thing as a fun,and also spectacular way to do something i like,

    • There are Spanish speaking voice actors from promos, commercials, ADR, books on tape and animation. It‘s fine if you want to pursue it for fun- that‘s the best reason to do it and keep doing it! If it weren‘t fun, I‘d stop and do something else! I think everyone should have things they love to do that earn no money but that are just enjoyable and fulfilling. Best of all if they have something they love to do that they are good at- that‘s something you can earn a living with!

  2. I don’t much care for on stage acting but find voice acting really fun and rewarding. Is that a bad thing? I know you suggest getting as much time as possible so would you say that doing small time voice acting for internet shorts counts?

    • Read my FAQ #3. For me, the distinction isn’t whether your acting education is “small” or “big” time but rather whether you are learning to act at all- and for me that has always meant being in some kind of a live situation, usually with an audience- not isolated. Acting is fundamentally improvisational, collaborative and live– and so is learning to act. That’s my view, anyway.

      Any of what you call “small time acting” could serve as a stepping stone along the path towards “big time acting.” (Does that mean “paid?”) I just have never met anyone in a VO session who cut their VO acting teeth on the internet/Skype/YouTube- but then, perhaps a new generation will find new ways in. And if it’s where you need to start to get where you want to go- then go for it!

  3. I have a 50 hour a week job that has crazy hours. Is it possible to juggle a full time career…and have a chance at succeeding?

  4. Have you ever heard of someone with Asperger’s to be a voice actor?

    • Yes. Many professional artists have learning/processing issues that they either overcome or learn to use to their advantage. A label does not define your life unless you give it power to do so. Something characterized as a “disadvantage” might turn out to be advantageous. Your persistence and talent are more important in finding your path.

  5. […] should I worry about [posting online amateur work] effecting my future reputation?

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