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April 13, 2015
How to become an overnight success in the world of Voice Acting!
April 13, 2015
I was given a lesson relatively early in my career that has served me well in my over 26 years in the entertainment industry. It was the secret, the one thing that I needed to know to have success in abundance. That detail, that once understood, allows you to achieve success and reap the benefits you so desire as a Voice Actor. Want to know what it is? Of course you want to know what it is! And I will tell you what I learned from a wizened professional I worked with back in college, but first I have to make sure you are ready to receive such an important piece of information.
The reason I have decided to share this secret publicly is because of a podcast I heard recently from audiobook review site “The AudioGals”. This particular podcast featured some seriously heavy hitters in the narration world, storytellers such as Simon Vance, Karen White, Patrick Lawlor, Tanya Eby, Luke Daniels, and Renee Raudman, all talented people who a know the secret; I guarantee it. In fact, within the podcast, Mr. Vance even let slip a portion of that secret. But I bet most new narrators who were listening, and maybe even some who have been around for a while, didn't even notice it.
You see, this “secret” is one of those things that you have to know to “get”.
I “knew” it but didn't “get it” until about 6 or 7 years after it was first told to me. I was on the road, living in the back of a Pontiac Aztec, going from city to city, performing with a comedy troupe and eating whatever we could afford, which was sometimes nothing. I think it was right around sunrise just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona when I remembered the lesson that an experienced professional from my earlier days of training had given me. The golden sun breaking over the horizon painting the sky in vivid pinks, reds, purples and blues, the way the light was dancing on the desert and mesas was enough to quiet my soul so I could hear those words again. And then I knew.
And once you know it, you have to embrace it fully to achieve the goal. And once you fully embrace it, truly give yourself over to completely understanding this secret and all that is required of you. Only then will you even begin to understand where this empowering piece of information can lead you. And so, I set about the business of embracing the secret.
That moment was around 2003. Since then I have embraced the secret. It took me on the road with another acting troupe, performing all over the country in illustrious venues at the finest county and state fairs, and theme parks where I learned the fickleness of audiences and the joy of performing the same show 5 times a day 7 days a week for 40 weeks of the year.
The secret lead me back to school where I received training in Radio Broadcasting, and then took me from small market to medium market to major market. The secret then transitioned me to television. And then around 2011, by embracing the secret, I entered the world of full time Voice Acting. And now you all know who I am. I am famous the world over, sought after, beloved, with Swiss bank accounts for my Swiss bank accounts.... not really.
But I AM a working professional. My business continues to grow because of this secret, and who knows what the future may hold for me. But enough about me, you want to know what the secret is....right? You want to know how to become an overnight success as a Voice Actor right?
Well, I've already told you.....did you miss it? OK, let’s see if you can pick up on the hint the great Simon Vance put down the the AudioGals podcast. He said that he recorded books for the blind for free for 8 years before he started narrating professionally.
Get it now?
OK here it is.... On average, it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. Think about that; 10 years to become an overnight success.
Don't believe me? Here are a couple of examples from the film and theater acting world: Benedict Cumberbatch, Hollywood's newest “It Brit”....his first professional role was in 2001, but he started his training in the early 90's, and only in the past year or two have people “discovered” him. Eddie Redmayne, most people still don't know that name even though he just won the Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything ...his first professional role was in 2002 and he started training in the late 90s.
Those are just a couple of examples of “overnight” success. Because what we perceive as an overnight success really just means we didn't know who those people were one day, and then suddenly they seem to be everywhere...
The secret is, at least 10 years. Ten years of work, training, learning, growing... It may not all be in the area of Voice Acting or acting in general. There are other professions where your experience can translate. And yes, there will be the exception who lands something major right out of the gate. But for the vast majority, 10 years is the minimum. Which is why success is so difficult in this business, and why many people don't make it. Ten years of hard work is a long time to wait for overnight success. But, if you want it badly enough....10 years is totally worth it.