Life can be a bit of a pain in the ass. Trying to build a successful business as a voiceover is like hemorrhoids! It’s a constant struggle with so many things that can flip your day to day feelings. One day you book a great job that pays the bills for the month (the Preparation H worked!). The next month you book enough jobs to pay the bills for a day (where’s my inflatable donut pillow?). Freelance work can be such a rollercoaster ride.
On top of the financial stress that this business can reap on those who have been brave enough to take this on as a full time pursuit, there are many other things when you step back and look at the bigger picture, point to it being a crazy career choice.
Rejection. It’s a daily part of what we do. Many of us (more so in the US) spend time every day submitting auditions for our agents, direct clients, production houses and P2P’s. In doing so, we are putting ourselves out there. If you’re anything like me, each audition that I send I truly believe it is good enough to book the job. Why else would I send it? And do I book every job I send? Of course not. Nobody does. The ratio of auditions to bookings can be extremely intimidating at times. And that can get very disconcerting for some people. The only piece of advice that I can give you is to send your audition and forget it. Once you send it, it’s out of your hands. Absolutely nothing else you can do. Unless you think you have a Super-Power that allows you to use brainwaves to change the casting directors mind!
You need to have a thick skin in voice over. Recently I auditioned for a really well-paying job that I thought I was perfect for. Last week I saw the spot on the TV. Somebody else booked it. And they deserved to book it. It didn’t make me feel any better and I resented it for a split second. These are the emotions that you deal with. It now helps me that I know many of the people I am competing with. I have met them on Zoom meetings or in person at voice over conferences. That makes things easier when they win the job over me. I can tip my hat, nod my head and say, “they’re a great person, very talented and deserved to book it!”. I’m not going to deny that sometimes it’s still said through slightly gritted teeth, but come on, give me a break! I ‘m extremely competitive!
Self-doubt. Oh, how the human mind works. You have a really good month. You booked plenty of jobs and the feedback from all of your clients was amazing. You’re feeling pretty darned good about things. You think to yourself “I’ve finally got this voice over thing worked out”. Then, a week goes by with no bookings. Not out of the ordinary, things must be slow out there. Then the next week comes along. Monday – Nada. Tuesday – zip – zero. “Oh shit. What am I doing wrong?” Wednesday – zilch. “I’m not good enough to do this as a career. What was I thinking?”. Thursday – NOTHING. “Why is this happening to me? I need to change this. Maybe I should use a different mic? I need to try harder.” And it spirals out of control. Then Friday comes along, you book a nice job, and everything is great again.
The imposter syndrome.
“I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never be as good as”, “I’ve only be doing this for a few years, what do I know”, “everyone else makes it seem so easy”. And on, and on it goes. It fascinates me that scientists consider the human race to be of profound intellect compared to other animals. Yet, our brains play tricks on us at every turn and it seems we have no control over it! If you read enough autobiographies and watch documentaries on successful people, you will soon come to realize that this is something that can affect even the greatest minds and most successful people. David Bowie, Serena Williams, Tom Hanks, and Maya Angelou all had feelings that they were a fraud at some point in their life. If these amazing people suffer from it then I think it’s OK for us to feel like an imposter at times. Come on, Tom Hanks for goodness sake!
I can’t give you any advice on how to handle the above. I’m not a therapist and don’t like the idea of being sued for trying to give medical advice! In truth, we can only take some solace from the fact that these are normal emotions. Nearly every voice actor I have spoken to has had the very same feelings. The nature of what we do means that we will always have rejection, self-doubt and sometimes imposter syndrome. Just remember that when you win a job over everybody else, those people who lost out, will be going through the exact same thing that you did when you didn’t get that big job you were hoping for. Now, I wonder if I’ll get the job for the new Preparation H commercial, I just auditioned for?