I get this question a lot from strangers and old family friends that I haven’t seen in a decade or more. The short answer: I do voiceovers. This usually gets one of three reactions: a look of confusion followed by “what is that?”; a look of surprise followed by curiosity, and my all-time favorite, “but would you ever want to do real acting?”
I’m gonna be honest: the “real acting” comments bug me. Real acting? Could they mean the art of performing a fictional role? Or acting in a movie, or TV production? Well… I’ve done all of that. Voice acting or performing voiceovers, whatever you want to call it, is “real acting.” Yes, even those one-liner radio commercials require acting skills and are considered acting in my book. It’s not like I’m just being myself all the time behind the mic. No, that would be called hosting. Or, perhaps, with a certain suspension of disbelief, reality TV.
Anyway, I’m an actor. I’ve done TV pilots, film, commercials and plays, but I’ve had the most success with voiceovers. Just like some actors are most well-known for a certain TV or film role, I’m most well-known for a few characters that I’ve voiced. So people like to call me a “voice actor.”
My job involves a few key things (in no particular order): auditioning, marketing myself, reading/preparing scripts, bookkeeping, auditioning, providing voices for projects, keeping myself healthy, auditioning, showing up to jobs on time, following direction and being a pleasant human being to work with, keeping up with popular shows and games, making appearances at conventions/events, and auditioning. Wait, did I mention auditioning? I did. I know. But here it is again anyway, in caps, just in case my point isn’t clear enough: AUDITIONING.
Auditioning is a huge part of being an actor. If you don’t audition, you don’t work. So, you go on all of the auditions. Even the ones you think you have no shot in hell of ever booking. According to one of my agents in NYC, if you’re booking 1 out of 20 auditions that you go on, you’re doing really well. And according to one former agent in L.A., if you’re booking 1 out of 40 auditions you go on, you’re doing really well. Just let that sink in. 1 out of 40. The talent pool is that huge in L.A.
My job involves having a few key traits (again, in no particular order): talent, confidence, resilience, flexibility, and being able to deal with rejection. Lots of rejection. (remember that 1 out of 40 remark in the previous paragraph?)
As for my schedule, it’s different every day and changes monthly. There will be weeks when I am recording from 9am to 9pm. There will be weeks when I have no sessions booked but am doing an average of three auditions per day. There will be weeks when I literally have no auditions and no jobs and I drive myself crazy questioning all the life decisions I ever made that led me to become an actor. I kind of know which months will be busy (May and June are always ridiculous) and which will be slow (December). But, my schedule is largely unpredictable.
Actors can have little control over our day-to-day, which is why we can seem flakey and tend to cancel plans a lot. If casting is only seeing people between 3 and 5pm tomorrow, we have to be there, or else we miss out on the audition. If the episodes need to be recorded by a certain deadline, we have to get in the studio to record, or we’ll be replaced.
Then again, I can choose when to go out of town and for how long. I just have to be prepared to record VO auditions remotely, or accept the fact that I may miss out on a role because I’m away.
So yes, acting. Glamorous, right? I like to think of it as running my own business, and the product I am selling is… me. That sounds less creepy if you say it out loud. (I think.) Anyway. I love being able to act full-time.
…90% of the time. I will admit that, like any job in any industry, there are times when it can get the hair-pulling kind of frustrating or the tear-inducing kind of demoralizing. There are times when I’ve considered throwing my microphone against the wall, packing all my stuff into a U-Haul and leaving rubber tire tracks on the 101 while I head… somewhere. Where? Well, I never got that far. So you can see these were just fleeting thoughts. It happens. BUT. Overall, being an actor has been pretty amazing. And I wouldn’t trade the last decade-plus of experiences for anything else.
The “what exactly do you do,” question is always followed by “what have you done that I would know?” I usually answer with, what do you play or watch or what do your kids play or watch? Then rattle off a few credits that hopefully ring a bell (Final Fantasy! Snooki & JWoww! League of Legends!). I can’t ask you that question, dear reader, but I can tell you to check out my IMDB page if you want to see if you know any of my characters.
Anyway, this little peak into a working actor’s lifestyle, what do you think? Would you do it? And also, what are the pros and cons of what YOU do for work? Tell me in the comments!