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

“Breaking in to voice acting”

Any artistic decision that’s based on whether or not you’re going to make money isn’t really an artistic decision, it’s a business decision.” — Frank Zappa

Breaking into The Biz of VO

Many who say, “I want to break into voice acting,” actually mean they want to break into the business of voice acting. And they typically want to do this as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort. This angle is characterized by eager inquiries about getting an agent, booth equipment, networking, and finding a job. Business. Money. Now. Sooner if possible.

Business is the most straight forward aspect of professional acting (though it often eludes artsy types). Pretty much anyone can learn the business details of VO and set up a decent home studio for a modest investment. Anyone call sell you this info (I give you my take on this on my site for free). It’s the easier, more linear half of the VO career puzzle.

But going for the business before going for the art is putting the cart before the horse. And without the talent and craft to back it up, you seek to sell an empty proposition.

Everyone wants to “break into the business.” They dream of the career part without considering working for and earning the craft. I’ve never heard someone say, “I want to break into the art of voice acting.”

Breaking into the Art of VO

In contrast to a typical business venture, the goal of exploring, developing and mastering an art form is a whole different kind of project- often open-ended. It requires the project of excavating your talent and strengthening access to your creative powers.

Professional level artistry is something that few can teach well and not all can learn.

Where business is linear, like climbing a tree— up then down and done— finding your way artistically is like scaling a mountain of trees with few set pathways or signposts on your way to the cloud-obscured rarified peak. You can see the mountain top, there’s just no clear path laid out for you. An artist’s journey can be elusive, uncertain, even maddening.

You can scuttle up a tree on your ascent up the mountain- that may make you feel momentarily higher and may give you some sense of progress. But you don’t really make progress up the mountain by climbing trees.

Without developing your artistic capacities and the skills of your craft, your audio equipment and demo will get you no further towards being a voice actor.

The artistic journey starts out just as something fun to do. But if you get serious about it, commitment and focus- in addition to talent- are also required.

Stop and go, rejection and stumbling, often with no clear indication of progress, even when progress is made. It may feel daunting, frustrating, indecipherable.

Which may be why few focus on this side of becoming a voice actor or ignore it completely. When it plays out so differently for each, what are you supposed to actually do? How do you even proceed?

It’s easier to purchase the trappings of the career and hope that’s enough. But it’s not.

Professional acting is a conundrum because it calls for two very different parts of you to be awake and functioning- your linear, calculating business self and your non-linear intuitive creative self. It’s like two halves of the brain that don’t always see eye to eye suddenly have to make nice and somehow get along.

But a professional voice actor needs both aspects engaged, developed and strong.

Going pro means you gotta climb the trees and you gotta scale the mountain.

Anyone who sees themselves as going for any kind of acting career should ask: How does your daily life advance this complex project? Are you actively improving your business as well as artistic capacities?

When you pay for insight or training- which aspect of your progress will benefit? Does it benefit the linear business-brain aspect of your ambition, or expand your intuitive and artful capacities- your improv and acting?

An aspiring pro- that is, someone who wants to be paid for their artistry- must learn the “show” as well as “business.” But if your goals and instruction are lopsided to favor only one half of the whole, your wings are clipped.

Do you aim to break into the business of voice acting or the art of voice acting?

If your answer is “both” you may have a shot.


“Our craft is our imagination, and I believe that the thing that will get you hired as an artist is the quality of your imagination and your ability to access it.” -@quitcherbitchyn

© Dee Bradley Baker 2023

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