I ran across a fantastic entry on fellow voice-over actor Adam Creighton’s blog titled Acting is a lot of work. It’s the sort of thing I wish I had written.
I don’t know Adam and haven’t previously read his blog. However, he strikes me as an extremely talented, goal-oriented guy who can inspire all of us with his tremendous work ethic and fierce determination to live the life of his dreams. I particularly liked the paragraph where he said that if you don’t have work, you make your own. I also have used comic books for character voice creation and practice, but Adam takes that method one step further by creating simple animation by taking pictures with his digital camera.
Some of the most stellar ideas for business expansion have come from people making their own work. Hollywood stars often have their own production companies; why shouldn’t a voice actor do the same thing? In his most excellent course You Must Act!, actor/writer/director Bob Fraser advises would-be actors to cast yourself in roles that you want. Whether you are acting on stage or in a voice-over booth, his advice is still sound (pardon the pun).
I was fortunate to have a personal consultation with Bob in which we discussed that point. Casting oneself means that you know your strong suit, and you also know the things that you enjoy doing. You therefore actively seek out those opportunities or possibly create them for yourself. Adam knows this secret.
As much as I enjoyed seeing all of the positive and creative things that appeared on Adam’s list, I also must mention the striking absence of something from his list that seems to fill countless hours for many people. At no point did Adam say he spent his precious time comparing himself to or worrying about his competition.
Of course, I’m sure a smart man like Adam is keenly aware of the competition in the voice-over industry and his other performing arts fields. However, from reading his detailed list of activities, I am delighted to see that he is much too busy with the improvement of his own career to be concerned about the careers of other people. (By the way, I hope that the industrious Adam is way too busy to be spending his valuable time absorbed in gossip and idle chit chat on his cell phone or consumed with the results of a reality TV show.)
Comparing yourself to other people is a guaranteed formula for feeling BAD! Without too much effort, you can always find someone who apparently:
- has more credits and/or more impressive credits
- has booked more jobs recently
- makes more money
- has better equipment
- has more agents and/or more aggressive agents and/or agents in more markets
- has higher search engine rankings
- has a better demo
- has more training
- has better marketing promotions
- has more audition opportunities
You get the idea. By comparing yourself and your achievements to anyone or anything, you more than likely will find fault with your own situation. This negativity can cause feelings ranging from discouragement to despair and not only jeopardize your career but damage relationships as well. We are all unique, and we all have different gifts to offer the world. You cannot use the career of another person as a yardstick with which to measure your progress because every circumstance is different.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t review the demos, web sites and other marketing materials from others in the voice-over industry. I believe that we all can learn from others’ approaches and successes. Read the biographies of voice actors, business people or anyone else whom you admire. Success leaves clues. If someone else has done something that you want to do, you can emulate their steps. Your journey won’t be the same, but at least you will be on the right path.
From Adam’s comments about suggesting the toy and comic book licensing deal, I wondered if, in fact, he even views other voice actors as competition. I prefer to have a cooperative attitude instead of a competitive one. I know that my voice is not right for every project, and I have turned down projects that I didn’t want to voice because I didn’t like the words that would be coming out of my mouth.
We are all voice talents with something special to offer. Bob Souer, a successful voice actor who is as gifted when writing on the page as he is when bringing words to life behind the mic, wrote an eloquent post on his blog addressing the competition aspect of auditions . In Bob’s mind – and in mine, too – an audition isn’t a competition. When you read his captivating words comparing an audition to a Michelangelo sculpture, you won’t enter an audition situation with a competitive attitude again.
The next time that you think your voice-over career or any other part of your life is unsatisfactory, I would offer this challenge. Ask yourself if you’re really using every bit of available time constructively in pursuit of your dreams like Adam. Are you like veteran voice actor Bob Souer, who views every audition opportunity with the excitement that a sculptor views that new chunk of marble? Have you implemented the advice of the very wise Bob Fraser to cast yourself?
Look at the name of his course again. YOU MUST ACT. Even if you don’t cast yourself for parts that you want, you must take action if you expect anything to happen in your voice-over career. If you remember your high school physics, you’ll know that Isaac Newton stated:
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
All of your actions won’t necessarily lead to the reactions that you want. However, the Universe responds in kind to the energy that you expend. Once you start devoting yourself to the full-time pursuit of making your dream life a reality, I promise that you will be as happy, creative and fulfilled as Adam seems to be.