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

Climb the Mountain

I see the career of voice acting like any specialized profession. It’s ultimately a mountain to climb.

There are many paths up that mountain, perhaps a few well worn trails that will make the trek a bit quicker, but in the end, you gotta climb that mountain. Many want to take the tram, but I’m sorry. There are no short cuts.

It takes all the things you would expect: know-how, supplies, stamina, drive, patience and a lot of work and time to work your way up that climb.  Maybe a guide or two and using the “buddy system” wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It also helps to be an experienced mountain climber if you’re going for the long haul up The Big Mountain, as many who attempt the climb just don’t make it. Some don’t even survive. 

Many just starting out see getting into voice acting as nothing but a little hill- a quick trip up and you’re there. Those are the ones who just skip on over and start up the mountain without backpack or canteen. They’re out of shape and not at all ready. 

These are the ones who are in love with the idea of mountain climbing without ever having attempted it. It looks easy enough, so why prepare?

Another analogy: You ever see someone playing a musical instrument really well? Man, that looks not just fun as hell, but they make it look easy too! Because the musician is laying down the music with such ease and power, it looks effortless. Take, for example, Yoyo Ma: a master cellist who plays the “serious” stuff beautifully but is open to having fun and trying stuff outside the “classical” box. He makes it look fun and easy when he does it that well with such passion and joy. 

You never heard anyone say “How do I get into professional cello playing? Maybe take a workshop? Buy a book? Just buy a good cello and learn to play it from YouTube and I’m good, right?”


So when someone asks me about “getting into voice overs” as if they were asking about maybe taking up quilting, I think of Yoyo Ma. Would anyone seriously think it’s easy to learn to play that cello like that? That they could do that with less than the right kind of talent and, say, a decade or two of hard work? Probably not.

But for some reason, voice acting is unique. It doesn’t even appear to be acting or even work to many people. You don’t see the part where the actor earns his/her career and skill. Everyone seems to be laughing and having a gas making crazy voices in the booth. Just fun, right?

Many get the impression VO is easy, just a quick trip up a small hill. But I think becoming a good voice actor with a sustained career is about as easy as becoming a good cellist with a good career. 

Or maybe as easy as lugging a cello up a mountain while learning to play it.

But cello or no, you gotta climb the mountain.


© Dee Bradley Baker 2023

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