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,” seem to actually mean they want to break into the business of voice acting. The typical corollary to this is, “as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort.” This angle is characterized by eager inquiries about getting an agent, booth equipment, networking, finding opportunity and booking a job. Business. Money. A job. Now- sooner if possible.

The good news is this is the most straight forward aspect of professional acting- pretty much anyone can learn the business details of VO and set up a decent home rig 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 very few VO padewans will say they aspire to break into the art of voice acting. Everyone wants to “break into the business.” It is rare to find someone who wants to “break into the art.” They seem to dream of the career part without considering earning the craft part.

Breaking into the Art of VO

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

The artistry is the part of voice acting that few can teach and that few are ready or even able to 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 no set pathways or signposts 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 climb trees on your ascent up the mountain- they make you feel momentarily higher and give you a sense of progress. But you don’t really make progress up the mountain by climbing them.

The artistic journey is a wandering path of discovery and exploration that requires personal vulnerability, curiosity and guts. It also requires patience and luck. Commitment and focus in addition to talent also help.

“Putting yourself out there” at an audition, on a stage, in a studio is competitive and all on you- like stand up comedy or golf. Not necessarily an easy climb.

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 goes so differently for each, what are you supposed to actually do? How do you even proceed?

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.

Forging the meandering, artic path to voice acting is as important as climbing the easy up-and-down business part, perhaps more so, ultimately.

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

So- how does your life fuel this complex project of becoming a voice actor? Are you active on both fronts of your journey?

When you pay for advice or insight or training- which aspect of your progress will benefit? Does it benefit the linear business-brain aspect of your ambition, or 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, your prospects diminished, your career horizon shortened.

What do your talents, habits and daily actions point to? 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 2020

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