A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending the “Masters of the Microphone” event in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was created and hosted by Susan Berkley of the Great Voice Company. Looking back over my notes from that great event, I was reminded of just how incredible the experience was for me, both professionally and personally.
Between spending a couple of hours with Professor Pat Fraley on the technique of “Script Stripping,” to the “Mic Shootout” with Dave Brow of Sweetwater Sound, to learning how to maximize my social networking (courtesy of Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems,) the event was so jam-packed, I barely slept for days. Plus, as an added bonus, I met up with some old VO friends and made some new ones!
One question sticks in my mind as particularly relevant from that event. It came up in private conversations with other VO talents in Atlanta—in fact, I would venture to say that every other voice actor has asked themselves this question at one point or another.
The question in question was asked succinctly by a subscriber to Susan Berkley’s Inside Voice-Over e-zine (for a free subscription, visit www.greatvoice.com.) The subscriber asks, “How do I know if I have any talent?”
“After all,” (continues the subscriber’s question) “isn’t talent something that is bestowed upon us by nature or by God, by forces completely outside of our control? Isn’t a talent for voice-over something you either have or you don’t How do I know I’m not wasting my time?”
Have you asked this question? I know I did—many, many times. I don’t any more, however. Susan’s answer was so spot on, that I couldn’t help but share it with you all:
“With all due respect to the person who asked me, this question is a complete cop-out. Here’s why.
“If you are allowing your success to be determined by factors outside of yourself, you are destined for failure. The concept of talent is a trap. If your mother thinks you have talent do you? Probably not. If an agent thinks you have it, do you? Well, maybe. If a client loves your voice and hires you for lots of jobs, then that’s probably all the proof you need that you are indeed talented. But then if another client thinks you stink, what happened to your talent then? Did it disappear? Do you just give up? Many people do.
“Talent is just one of the many excuses we use to relinquish control over our lives and our professional destiny. Here are some of the others.
“I can’t make it in voice-over because:
– The competition is too fierce
– Somebody told me I was no good.
– The economy is bad. The market is down.
– I’m living in the wrong place
– I don’t have any money
– I’m too old
– I’m too young
– I’m the wrong ethnicity
– People say I’m crazy
– I’m not lucky
– I don’t know how to market myself, etc etc.
“Most of these so-called obstacles to voice-over success are myths and misconceptions and others are marketing challenges that can be overcome through grit, persistence and by getting the right information. Unfortunately, most people resign themselves to mediocrity by taking the lazy way out and refusing to get the information and training they need to build the skill set necessary for success.
Susan continued…“Look. No matter how much I wanted to, at this point in my life I will never become a top women’s soccer player or championship tennis player. A window of physical opportunity has certainly passed. But making it in voice-over isn’t like making it in professional sports. I can share countless examples of people who started and became successful in voice-over later in life or as a second career.
“One talent I know is a charming and distinguished grandfather who built a successful voice-over career after selling his paint business! His success didn’t come easily to be sure. He trained diligently with the best coaches he could find. He markets himself assiduously. He networks ferociously. His demo tape is top notch and up to date. And he takes a sincere interest in the people he markets himself to. He wasn’t born with his voice-over talent. He acquired it through passion, hard work, and focused persistence. I have a student in my mentor program who sold a business, and although he could have retired he decided now was the time to have the life he always wanted. He built studios at his summer home in Michigan and his winter home in Florida. He got work almost immediately and now, almost 5 years later, has built a very successful voice-over business on his own terms.
“Talent is something people say we have after we work our butts off and respect and nourish our God-given potential. It’s the magnetism we give off when we are passionate and focused about our work. And it’s the contribution we make as a team member to the projects we are called upon to support with our voices and our acting skills.”
If you are a beginner and want to talk to someone about your potential in the voice-over industry I invite you to visit www/DavidBrowerVO.com/mentoring OR if you have some experience and want to get to the next level there are several great coaches on that page, including Susan Berkely. To learn more feel free to give me a call at (844) DavidVO.
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