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

Insight

THINGS I’VE LEARNED THAT I THINK EVERY ACTOR SHOULD KNOW 

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Protect your health:

Your health helps draw people and work to you. I’m talking both physical and mental. Think of yourself as a professional athlete. No one hires sickness or bad energy.

As a voice actor, you aim to earn your living with your body. Eat well and keep in shape.

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Ground your happiness in healthy relationships and doing good work –not in whether or not you book a gig.

Gigs come and go.  Applause and the paychecks are intermittent.  You are not your ability to book a job. You need something more enduring and affirming to found your life than an acting career on a roll. Something that is authentically of you, that you have at least some control or say in- that matters in life. How you treat others and honor your relationships- that matters in life. What you create and what that brings to others- that matters in life. 

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Seek honest feedback. Be honest with yourself.

An honest take from someone who knows what they are talking about is worth gold. Seek out critique from others with more experience and expertise. Accept an honest assessment from a pro or a friend for the compliment it is, even if the truth hurts a bit. 

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Cultivate patience and flexibility:

Acting is not a “linear” career. It stops, it starts, it trudges, it sprints, it soars, it flops. The pace of your “ascent” may well not be a continual progress, but rather ups and downs. At first, it will in all likelihood be a lot of “down.”

An actor slowly building a career is like a spider patiently building a web to catch its flies. When your webbing is in place, the payoff can begin.

Also, keep in mind your career may well turn out differently that you thought or hoped. You must evolve as the industry evolves or be “selected out.”

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You become who you hang out with.

Consider the company you keep: You take on the energy and trajectory of who you surround yourself with.  Their energy, outlook and mantras become yours– personally and professionally. 

Avoid what I call “health vampires–” those who feed off your confidence and positive energy. This could be anyone you associate with regularly. Steer clear of those who whine, who radiate negativity, self-pity, who constantly undermine themselves and those around them with a seemingly insatiable need to fill their own emptiness or unhappiness, or who just habitually make bad choices.

You’ve got better things to do than get caught up in someone else’s bottomless pit mantra of self-defeat.

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Sleep breeds optimism

You’d be surprised how important sleep is to feeling a sense of hope and possibility in your day. Get enough sleep.

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Ask for what you want in your career and life.

It’s surprising how many never ask or ask only once and then give up after getting just one “no.” Keep asking– but don’t be a pest about it. Persistence is vital. Don’t wanna ask? You ain’t gonna get.

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Get a life:

You need to have more going on for you than just ambition and your career. Nobody wants to cast, let alone spend time in a studio with, a boring “actor-robot.” Without life-personal sources that feeds and inspires you, without anything or anyone of substance that you care about, without things you are exploring, diving into, trying out, you have nothing from you or your life to bring as an artist to your work or to the session. Follow your loves, your curiosity, your idiosyncrasy, even your weirdness–outside of acting. Become yourself! For more on this, check my FUEL page.

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The job of a pro is to be ready for when luck and opportunity come your way.

Some view opportunity or success as merely a matter of “luck,” which implies that good fortune is arbitrary and out of our control. Many see “luck” as a key to things going well, yet their stance towards it is passive. These are the people that go to Las Vegas and start throwing away money hoping to get “lucky,” and inevitably lose. Too many aspiring actors have this same strategy when they move to L.A. on a whim. True, L.A. is a place where you are probably statistically more likely to run into “good luck” somewhere, somehow. But that is rarely enough to transform into work, creative fulfillment or a career.

If you were a baseball player, “luck” would be the number of times you get up to bat multiplied by the number of times the ball is pitched to your “sweet spot.” Your job as a player is to be ready to knock the right pitch out of the park. 

Expect for luck will come your way, at least eventually. You must be not merely present but ready to meet it with your full creative force. 

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No matter where you go…there you are.

Many obsess with getting that one thing that they think will “solve” their problems and put their career in the stratosphere. But one “if only” has a way of creating other “if only’s.” It always struck me that you either never really “arrive” or else you have already arrived a while ago. Either way, quit worrying about artificial benchmarks and focus instead on doing what you do better than ever.

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Enjoy the ride:

Give yourself a break. Reward yourself always even for small steps of progress. Celebrate your victories.

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© Dee Bradley Baker 2016
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