I’ve been a professional Voice Over Actor/Artist
for the last 10 plus years. I spent the first few years perfecting my VO chops, literally, in one of the greatest cities on the planet, Chicago. A place, but for the 6 months of blue skin tinting winter, and 3 months of armpit sweat summer, could quite possibly be, in my biased mind, the most wonderful place to live in this place we call Earth.
It was in Chicago that I learned that, for my voice, the closer the microphone the better. How to talk across the mic to avoid plosives (Popping syllables from letters like P.), and that my job description is to Show up, Be a good person, Do my job as quick and professionally as possible, then Leave.
Chicago was also the place where I realized that Voice Over was a business.
I was hooked on the life of an Actor from the first moment I stepped on stage to deliver my lines as a white 16 year old pretending to be Japanese in “Teahouse of the August Moon” If Brando could do it why not my suburban soccer playing self? The only way I can describe how I felt the first time the audience laughed, is that it’s like the first time you catch a wave when surfing. It grabs you somewhere deep in your belly and connects you like a Lego to something that is far bigger then yourself and it triggers your brain to start thinking about how it can connect more legos, and if there is truly anything else worthwhile, except connecting Legos.
Living in South Austin, Texas, and then Stuart Dybek’s ever changing Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, I felt my self growing as an artist, learning technique, and overall getting closer and closer to my inner artistic Lego connecting soul surfer. During that time I was also learning that this whole living thing tended to cost money. To others my 375 dollar a month apartment was a steal, to me a ridiculous obligation with no real return. Then there was the hard truth that Peanut Butter and Tortillas cost more when you don’t have roommates who buy them. What’s more all those acting classes cost as much as rent. Turns out my life as a budding artist had a direct reverse correlation with my income. I looked around at my brilliant artists friends and realized, They Don’t Make Money! Any Money! And Neither Do I!
It hit me, there is the Art of an Actor and there is the Business of the Actor and with out the Business, for the most part, the Art is Art for Arts sake. Conversely the Business without the Art is akin to a salesman without a product. It is, as in almost everything, all about the balance of the two in relationship to the specific artist.
With that I set out to educate myself. Earning a degree in Business from The College of Borders, a Marketing degree from Barnes and Nobel University, and, due to lack of interest and the prerequisite math, failed to finish a Finance degree from Amazon U.
After learning in my 5th year of College that you could test out of classes by reading the books and taking a test, receiving A credit for 3 units by studying for two days, I realized that learning on one’s own simply meant having the will and a book on how to. Add to that the amazing resources on the Internet and truly it is all there for the learning.
I’m still learning and unfortunately what I’m learning is that the learning can never stop. A business that ignores changing trends finds itself irrelevant. If Starbucks, McDonalds, and Coke can lose their way, (New Coke anyone?), so too can the Artist refusing to change, to reinvent their business plan, and learn about the prevailing trends.
Just a few years ago a headshot in color was a sign of someone who didn’t know what they were doing. Now color is a norm, and oft preferred.
Voice Over, like all Art, is a business, and as a business it is ever changing.
Just like a business, have a plan, research the market place, have a great product, be a good person and then leave.