What We Do
How do you frame your work, your art, and yourself as an actor? What the goal? What are you really aiming for? Your answer will set the bar for your career and the power of your art.
Here’s a clip from a Steve Martin interview that makes a great point:
Bryan Cranston puts this so beautifully a slightly different way:
I think they both nail it: Your job as an actor is to create something that is honest, authentic, fantastic and irresistible. You do your best at that and then you walk away. That’s it. This is an actor’s true goal. When you get a lock on that, then the rest will flow to the gravity of your unique talent.
Another way to put it, is your goal is to make something, not to take something. You’re not there to get approval or just book a gig. You are there to create something compelling, surprising, uniquely fantastic and give it to them. You are there to give, not to take.
Some understandably say they “just want to get an agent” or “book a gig” but this isn’t really aiming at the true bullseye. What an actor really wants is to create something so good that they have no choice but to hire (or sign) you.
To see the project of becoming a professional artist this way is a profound paradigm shift from the typical scrambling actor’s mindset that seems driving by needy conformity, obedience and people pleasing.
I believe Mr. Martin and Mr. Cranston have a much more powerful and effective stance towards art, work and success.
How we see ourselves
Coverage of “entertainment news” is dominated by click-bait TMZ distraction that is obsessed with on-camera actors. They get the attention, the buzz, the media mind-space. It would be easy for an aspiring voice actor to buy into the mistaken view that voice acting is less than acting, that we are some lower species of performer, scrambling for an occasional scale gig, booking if we are either lucky or obedient enough. We don’t make millions of dollars per project and we aren’t featured in the tabloids. We aren’t part of the fake royalty of fame that seems to garner such attention and respect. We aren’t household names. We aren’t fawned over by the public or even when we book a gig. We appear pretty “normal,” really.
For these, and other stupid reasons, many industry pros, including other actors, don’t consider voice actors to be real actors. The televised awards of the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA doesn’t even have a “voice-over” category. It’s no wonder that voice actors might think less of themselves than they should. Of course, this is horse crap.
I think this misunderstanding is an impediment for many beginning voice actors, who think their real job is to please or to merely serve or just to book a gig and make some money. They set their demeanor to this lower bar, and their auditions and work may miss the mark because of it.
I’m with Mr. Martin and Mr. Cranston on this. I believe the truth is that you will not begin to book or work much until you grasp that a voice actor is an artist– someone who creates, who makes something living and breathing out of thin air that cannot be ignored or dismissed. That is our superpower and it is a remarkable thing to aspire to.
So many in this world earn their money by maintaining things or copying things or shuffling things around, but we voice actors create things for a living. We are creators and this is our unique and remarkable power that deserves respect and appreciation, especially from us.
Set the bar high for yourself, for who you see yourself to be, for what it is you do– and the work will follow.