fbpx
Integrity and Taking Responsibility

Integrity and Taking Responsibility

You’ll figure out quickly when you decide to learn voiceover that the voiceover business and the entertainment business in general can be wildly unpredictable. At times it seems like an endless marathon of hoops you have to keep jumping through, just to get noticed, let alone to thrive. This may seem counter-intuitive, but all of that has to begin and end with you.

Your attitude, your work ethic, your level of dedication, your willingness to play. Giving yourself permission to have fun, acknowledging that you don’t know it all, being willing to keep doing it even when it gets hard, and it will. Remembering to cheer others on when they get the part and you don’t. Continually taking risks and being open to colossal failure, while being open to learning amazing lessons from that.

All of that begins with you.

In general, most of us expect people to keep their word and do what they say they’re going to do. What you’ll learn in voiceover is not unlike what you’ll learn in life. The simple fact is that just like in life, people in this business are going to let you down too. They don’t always do it intentionally, they may mean the promises that they make, but then they get busy and forget, or plans change. Perhaps they end up giving the gig to somebody else after they promised it to you. Or they don’t make time to help you when they said they would.

Rather than expecting others to be in integrity at all times, bringing it back to you is where your power truly lies. One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and in it he suggests that the first thing you can do is to be impeccable with your word. Your Word. No matter what other people are saying or not saying or doing or not doing. You can’t control that stuff, you’ll never be able to. While you don’t have control over that, you do have control over you.

You have the power to take personal responsibility for what you put out there in the world and how you react to things in the world. If you make a promise, just keep it as best you can, whether it’s to yourself or to somebody else, and even if you slip up, just keep circling back to you and what you can do.

If you make a declaration that you’re going to learn voiceover, keep that promise to yourself, and if you signed up for classes with me and you haven’t watched all of them, get in there!. Watch the class archives and do the exercises and read the newsletters.

If you say you’re going to be at an audition, show up on time and be prepared. Read the copy in advance if they give it to you in advance. Do your homework, study the craft and keep yourself healthy too. Pay attention to what’s going on in your body. Don’t overexert yourself. Do your warm-up exercises before you get there. If it doesn’t go perfectly, at least you’re putting yourself out there. You’ve kept your word with yourself and with everybody who’s in that process with you.

If you don’t get the job or things don’t go as you expect, that’s ok, and if somebody says something that makes you feel bad about yourself, for whatever reason, you don’t have to let that have an effect on you. You always get to choose.

When you do this work, when you choose to do this work, you’re going to get all kinds of opinions from all kinds of people. People you know and love, or not, casual acquaintances and sometimes complete strangers. They’re all going to be offering their opinions. Even if it is personal, which many times its not, you don’t have to accept that as your truth and act on it or react to it. You get to choose.

The essence of Responsibility is having the Ability to Respond. You get to decide what you’ll do with all input that comes your way. That includes everything you read in these blogs or hear in classes with me!

I urge you guys to take responsibility for your life and for your actions. Start with you. When you decide to learn voiceover, you also learn about your life. Take responsibility for your reactions and just know that you have a lot more control over that than you think, and for your art. Remember to take the time to squeeze every bit of juice out of this journey that you can, because it really is about the journey.

And lastly, remember those Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word, Don’t take anything personally, Don’t make assumptions, And always do your best.


Get a copy of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four AgreementsHERE!

Marketing and Voiceover Jobs

Marketing and Voiceover Jobs

Long before we had the internet, if we wanted to get a job in voiceover we had to market ourselves the “old fashioned” way. At the time I got in it was all about submitting cassette tapes, and not long after that it went to CDs, which you did if you wanted to get noticed. We all paid A LOT in postage for mass mailings, it kinda sucked and it was expensive to do. I still remember going into the duplicator with my little cassette and having them duplicate 200 copies of it – and then mailing them out by hand. It’s a whole lot easier these days.

One of our colleagues, a voice actor named Wally Wingert, played John from The Garfield Show, and the Riddler in the Batman Arkham series and a bunch of other really great stuff. He had a bobblehead made of himself and he sent them to every casting agent and studio in town – you can still see these things sitting on people’s desks! It was kinda genius and people remembered him for it.

It’s still important to market yourself these days – probably even more so, because the talent pool has increased exponentially. It used to be a small group of people who did this kind of work, now everyone’s got a home studio, its global, and honestly – it’s tough for the new kid on the block looking to get a voiceover job to get looked at or even listened to. You’ve got to be proactive with this stuff.

Fortunately, you guys have the internet. YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook. There are so many ways to get your stuff out there quickly and efficiently to a worldwide audience.

As I’ve mentioned before in my voiceover classes, if you’re marketing yourself please make sure that you are doing it honestly. If you book a voiceover job be prepared to use your entire skill set and don’t misrepresent yourself with characters that you can’t recreate, perform or sustain. That’s really important because it will bite you in the butt afterwards.

You are the product, you are your brand and you are what you were selling. So, you need to know who you are, what your strongest assets are and what makes you different and marketable. There are a lot of people out there. You need to know your stuff so you can accurately convey it to people who are in positions to hire you. This is why I stress the importance of figuring out WHO you are. If you’re ready for marketing it’s a good idea to start the branding process, and it’s a good idea to start it early. You can begin with the creation of a logo. But before you do that, you must figure out how you want to represent yourself.

Originally, the only thing I was interested in when it came to a job in voiceover was animation. So, my logo was fun and playful and cartoony. I put the logo together myself, and soon after I started creating postcards with that logo. Before I had a lot of characters I would just do a blank piece of paper with my mug on it and some catchy little thing on there. My first tagline was: “The Right Voice Choice”. I used variations of that logo on everything: business cards, cassette covers for my demo reel, announcements, and at that time I printed most of my materials on fluorescent green cardstock so that it stood out in a pile of other stuff on an agent’s or casting person’s desk. People remembered it. People still remember the fluorescent green guy! I drew the little animated mouth myself and I even type set every element by hand and I cut out the individual letters with an exacto knife and physically glued them together before I took it all to the print shop. They didn’t have digital printing back then, so everything was manual.

You guys have the advantage of creating professional-looking branding and logo materials very inexpensively online, and because they’re digital they’re easy to manipulate and resize and repurpose. We didn’t have that luxury, I had to get it right the first time. I had to get the specs from the print house, and I had to cut those things out and it sucked!

If you’re ready to begin this process of creating a logo, I would recommend that you look at samples to get some ideas. There are sites like wix.com or freelogoservices.com, logojoy.com or Fiverr. I’m not endorsing these sites but browsing through their logo creation tools will give you an idea of what’s possible, especially if you’re not a graphic designer.It’ll help you to hone in on how you want to represent yourself creatively and stylistically.

When it comes to websites which I taught in Class #24 of my Voiceover Teaching Series, you need to take control of how you’re presented out there in the world very early on. That way you can evolve it on your own terms. You don’t want other people deciding who you are, that’s how you get pigeonholed, and that’s also how you get overlooked.

Once you get the logo in place, you can use it on your website and all your printed materials, and you can make branded letterhead for your email correspondents. I still use that same logo, just used a different variation of it, it has carried through my career.

You can also make thank you cards using your logo, I used to do that all the time. If you have a live audition with a casting person or an agent, send them a handwritten thank-you card. I still do that. They’re appreciated because most people don’t write anything by hand anymore. Just don’t send more than one! Don’t want to overwhelm them. One nice, short, sweet little thank-you is cool to write, and have your logo and your branding on that. If you have a color that’s associated with you or a pattern that that you like, or something funny or interesting, include that in your branding.

Even if you haven’t really gotten started professionally as a voice actor, even if you haven’t had a single voiceover job yet, you can still do charity events. You can read for kids. There are all sorts of things that you can do. And you can use that stuff to print on your flyers and business cards and hand them out at the end and at networking meetings.

I have a little Facebook community group that was created precisely for the purpose of letting like-minded people connect with each other and to network with each other. I don’t get to participate in it as much as I’d like to because I’m so busy, but the group kind of took on a life of its own, and we have a very strong anti-bullying policy in there, everybody is accepted. It’s free and it’s called the Blumvox studios community on Facebook. So, if you don’t know about it, please check that out, some great resources in there. www.bvsfb.com is the link. Find other groups like that, either in your town or city or online. They’re great ways to meet people and to potentially get voiceover gigs!

There are also professional associations like SAG-AFTRA, the Union, which offer lots of free classes and mixers to their members, but even if you’re not in the union yet there are tons of things like this available all over the country and many of them are free. You’ll need to do your own research to find those where you are. It’s great to do those in person, and great to network.

It’s critically important just to be nice to everyone, as a policy. Just get used to doing that, and if that’s not your normal way, work on that! You’re building your reputation in this process and you never know who will be promoted to casting, or a directing position in the future. I’ve worked with several people who are directing now that used to be receptionists.

If you don’t know how to create a resume or bio, or some way to have headshots done, get online and start researching. That information is abundantly available and nobody’s going to do it for you. Again, this is a business and you must be proactive and take charge of your own career from the very beginning and get used to doing that because it never ends. I’ve had an agent for years and years and years and I do most of my own leg work to this day.

A huge part of your career in this business, like I mentioned before, is about the relationships you build and the referrals that can result from the relationships. So, you really want to be mindful about how they begin. A lot of my work comes from referrals these days. I still have to audition for voiceover jobs, but at least I’ll get the chance to audition because they’ve had a good experience of me in the past or somebody else has and referred me. Even Engineers have referred me before. So build those relationships, I’ve mentioned these in other classes I teach too. I was able to get some auditions because I had a good first impression with a receptionist and they needed somebody. If they have three people on the list, and the receptionist says, “well he was nice”, they may just say “okay, bring him in first”. Do not underestimate the power of great relationships in the referral process.

Again, please remember to be polite and respectful in all your interactions, including social media. Make sure that you do your homework, know who you’re talking to in advance, if possible. Follow up without being a pest, and never, never, never, never, never, please, never come from a place of desperation. It just never helps. That kind of thinking can sabotage you, before you even get started. If one resource doesn’t work out, or even if you blow an audition or an initial meeting with somebody, don’t take it personally, it’s okay. We all make mistakes and learn from them. We must trust that other opportunities will come. If you’re in this for the right reason, just do your best and be ready when those opportunities do show themselves.

Think about how you want to be represented out there long-term before setting up your pages, and don’t do stuff on YouTube that might embarrass you later, or sabotage your career later. Don’t do negative things where you’re spouting off on someone, try not to do that from the very beginning, if you can. Just be careful about what you’re putting out there because it’s out there forever.

When it comes to getting some of your first voiceover jobs, Social Media can be used as a massive calling card and an unlimited resource for networking. Pay attention to what’s happening out there  and do your research on it. There’s so much that’s happened even in the last year. It’s increased exponentially, the opportunities that I’ve seen casting-wise for voice actors on Twitter are great.

I am NOT an expert in social media. I don’t have time to become an expert on social media, and we’ve made unbelievable mistakes along the way. Painful, super expensive mistakes. I pay people to help us with it now, but there’s a ton of stuff you can do immediately that will cost you nothing. I built my voiceover career, without any help in the beginning. I did a lot of it on my own so I know that you guys can too.

I encourage you to get out there, get going and please don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do this work because of where you live. You can do this from pretty much anywhere, if you have an internet connection.

So that is my marketing pitch for YOU! Get at it, go after those voiceover gigs, and build the career you want!

Voiceover Training – “Making Friends With Your Voice”

Voiceover Training – “Making Friends With Your Voice”

During our first Blumvox Studios Team Meeting (nearly two years ago!), when we were deciding how best to deliver Voiceover Training to the world, we collectively came together and said that we wanted to create a newsletter to support our students. We had no idea what it was going to look like or how it was going to unfold, but we did know that if we said yes to the Vision, it would happen! Each one of our Team members has been writing a monthly column for almost a year now and we’ve dedicated ourselves to being real, authentic, genuine and honest. As a result, this has given us the ability to build our foundation of BVS from the Heart up.

“The Voice Monkey Dispatch” newsletter is my favorite part of Blumvox Studios. We wanted to create a place for you to come and chill with us, read with us, laugh with us and even cry with us. There’s A LOT of work that goes into each issue, and you get the newsletter for free when you become a student of Steve’s Voiceover Training course. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can find the info here.

We decided as a Team recently that we’d like to make some of the VMD content available to the general public. The following is an excerpt from our March 2018 issue of the VMD, entitled “Making Friends with Your Voice”. While some of you may not relate (yet!) to the voiceover actor making friends with his voice, you MAY relate to the experiences of those of us on his Team. Over these next few months you’ll see some of our Team “voices” here in the Blog, and we hope that you’ll get as much benefit from them as our Voiceover Training students and VMD subscribers have. I’d like to thank those of you that have been with us since the beginning (The OG!) and would also like to thank those of you that are new to our community. You have given us a platform to share ourselves with you and it’s been a true honor. Here we go!

Making Friends with Your Voice. – Trina Watton (President, Co-Founder of Blumvox Studios)

As I reflect on Making Friends with My Voice, which is such a huge part of Steve’s Voiceover Training, I must admit that it has been an extreme challenge for me throughout most of my life. I felt silenced as a child and learned that I couldn’t speak up for myself without getting in trouble. Over the years I had created a soft, high-pitched voice that was full of fear. You could hear it in my breath before I’d even speak because my abdomen would be trembling. Being soft spoken was my way of disappearing and staying safe. It caused me to hold my breath a lot and I’d often forget to breathe to the point of passing out. It was an unconscious behavior of mine. It was as if somehow in that breath, if I let it go, truly let it go, the whole world would fall apart in front of me.

Having lived a good portion of my life gripped in fear and anxiety, my “inauthentic voice” began to take its toll on me. Maintaining this persona and hiding my pain literally stopped oxygen from flowing freely throughout my body. I became stagnant, stiff, irritable, angry and just plain miserable. I’d heard for years that everything starts with the Breath. I’d heard for years that we ARE our breath. I’d heard for years that in order to heal, it was time to become One with our breath. Years of avoidance taught me that I wasn’t ready to embrace those truths until I was ready to deal with my pain. I knew inherently that it would change my life because it meant coming face to face with me.

When I finally began to breathe conscious breaths, making it a focused daily practice, my world changed drastically. It became brighter, clearer, joyful, more purposeful AND my world didn’t fall apart! You wanna know the best part? My voice began to change. It changes all the time! The deeper I get into myself and breathe slow breaths using my abdomen, the deeper and more rich my voice becomes. When I’m feeling courageous and ready to explore the next layer of pain breathing only through my nose, the stronger my voice becomes. The more I embrace my joy with deep purposeful breaths, the brighter my voice becomes. I’ve learned through the years that I don’t laugh enough and that in itself is a breathing practice. My inauthentic voice still comes up from time to time and in those moments, I embrace it! It’s an opportunity for me to check in with myself, get quiet and ask “what is it that I’m afraid of and why am I withholding my truth?” With stillness and patience, my breath always gives me the answer.

Breath is life. Breath is strength. Breath is real. Breath is revealing. Breath is courage. Breath is honest. Breath breathes through your voice, your mind, your body and your soul. Breath can hinder you or highlight who you are. It’s up to you how you choose to breathe.

I’d like to invite you to embrace your breath. I have a very simple exercise I’d like to share with you:

For a minimum of five to ten minutes per day over the next 30 days, I’d like you to write down what you notice about your breath (I highly recommend using a journal for this so you can keep all of your writings in one place). Notice if it’s short, hollow, winded, fast, limited, gasping, frustrated, pissy, resentful OR happy, excited, intentional, fluid, slow, creative, purposeful, etc… Start with your breath and see where it takes you each day. Feel free to bring your voice into it. Allow yourself to create different sounds for the feelings you’re experiencing and give them a voice. Your unique sound has messages to share with you and the more time you spend with this exercise, the more you will uncover AND discover about yourself. Please be kind to you during this journey. This is not a space for judgement. Just as you learn when in voiceover training with Steve, you may just surprise yourself and birth a new character or two along the way. <3

May we breathe into our authentic voices together…

With Love,

Trina

Confidence and Self Care in Your Voiceover Career

Confidence and Self Care in Your Voiceover Career

Confidence and your Voiceover Career

So early on in our voiceover classes, and literally every time I talk to folks that want a voiceover career, I talk about building confidence, looking stupid and embracing it, and taking care of your voice physically, by warming it up and cooling it down. That’s because It’s all related, and the connecting thread is your well-being. I know. Dang it Steve, you’re gonna dig in again, aren’t you? Yeah. Might as well get used to it.

Work on Your Health

Your health – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually – can affect your ability to perform. In life, relationships, work and yes, even in your voiceover career. Simply put, when you feel good, you’re better able to express yourself.

When I suggest to my students to let go of the fear and judgment they’ve been carrying around (in many cases it’s not even theirs!)  and going back to that childlike place inside where it was ok to be dorky, I’m simply encouraging them to work on their health.

Play and Your Voiceover Career

When you forget joy and forget to play and let fear run your life, it can manifest in anxiety, anger and sadness, and sometimes even physical pain or illness. Let’s go back to the sandbox analogy… when you see children playing in a sandbox and one of them is sick… unless the sickness is so bad the kid physically can’t function, that child is gonna play uninhibited with as much joy and energy as he/she/they can muster. It doesn’t matter if there’s a river of snot pouring from their nose, or if they have a cast on their arm, or they’ve got a diaper full of doody – they’re gonna use every bit of that playtime they have before they have to go take a nap, or clean up, or go eat, etc.

Unfortunately many of us lose that enthusiasm for play as we get older and start becoming self-conscious. We focus on what isn’t working or on what others tell us is OK to feel, based on their ideas and often, their fears. When you stop playing, you stop living.

Looking for Joy

I met a boy with ALS a few years ago. He no longer had any use of his body, and he couldn’t speak. His organs were shutting down and he could only communicate with his eyes, through a series of yes/no answers on an alphabet chart his father created. Even in that state, when his hero, Kari Wahlgren came to visit, he communicated that he was a huge fan of her work… he was excited to meet her and was bordering on flirty! He remembered, even under the most extreme circumstances – the things that brought him joy and it gave him something positive to concentrate on – when everything else in his life was a struggle for survival. His family told us that it improved the quality of his life and that of everyone around him.

Now that’s an extreme example, but the point is, no matter what you’re going through, looking for the joy, staying playful and finding the funny – only serves to improve the quality of your life and enhances the quality of everything you do and everyone you interact with. It’s an invaluable tool to staying healthy and happy throughout your career in voiceover. 

Voiceover is Physical

So how do warm-ups and cool-downs apply to this? Well, even when I’m doing something as potentially mundane as a warm-up exercise, I look for the fun. If you’ve tried the warm-ups and cool-downs I’ve suggested in other blogs here, you know that most of them require some pretty ridiculous faces and actions. They’re designed to help you physically loosen the muscles and structures involved in voice work, so you feel better. But they also help you unleash your inner dork so you’re less inhibited by fear!

Those exercises are designed to help you feel less restricted and more able to perform at your best throughout your voiceover career, and most importantly – to ENJOY THE PROCESS while doing so. All that plus they help you to avoid injury and to recover from stress after. Pretty good stuff for just making weird noises and faces, huh?

When you’re feeling better physically, and emotionally, your mental abilities improve, you’re more creative, your perspective changes and life just seems a little better. I’ll leave spirituality alone for now, because some people aren’t comfortable with that. But trust me, when you seek the positive, you’re already doing that work.

Be happy, be healthy and be a dork!

Love you guys!

Steve

Voiceover and the Importance of Trust

Voiceover and the Importance of Trust

We’re called upon to trust often in the voiceover business. Trust the process, trust that our teachers aren’t full of crap, trust that if we do the work, something will come of it…
Trust that we’ll be remembered when we’re great and not forgotten when we suck.
Trust that they will forget when we suck, but not forget us!

Trust that we’ve got a handle on the fear, so it won’t be in control when we get our shot.

Trust that we GET a shot! Let’s look at the definition of the word: 

trust |trəst|

noun

firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

It’s tough to trust anyone these days. So with all of that swirling in our heads as we approach anything creative… whom do you trust? And how do you trust?

Starts with you, boo. In my Voiceover Teaching Series classes, we’ve discussed taking direction and cold reading (reading something you’ve never seen before out loud). So while it’s pretty clear that you have to trust your director, the choices you make based on that, begin with trusting your own passion for the work, the months or years of study you’ve put in, and that you wouldn’t even BE in front of a director if they didn’t think you were worthy. The hardest part of all of this is remembering that you ARE worthy! Even when you’re by yourself, practicing your cold reading, it requires you to trust your instincts in fleshing out believable characters with no preparation.

Trust takes practice. And people often lose trust when they feel betrayed by others. A natural, and necessary protective human reflex. But what about when we let ourselves down? What happens when we have a chance at something and we blow it? Usually we start beating ourselves up and tearing ourselves down. This isn’t a protective reflex, it’s an unnecessary but very common breakdown of our trust in ourselves, and it happens – even in voiceover.  When you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s an opportunity for a breakthrough.  You get back up, dust yourself off, and get your butt back to work. Take the time to learn from the mistake.

DO what you need to do so this mistake doesn’t happen again!  Then get back up with this new wisdom in your pocket. Just the fact that you GOT back up is a huge victory! If you can celebrate that you’ll be surprised at your ability to create something new and amazing from it. 

Here’s a little tale from the voiceover crypt for you. Many years ago, I read for the part of Goro for the Mortal Kombat movie. I did a great first audition. Even made it to final callbacks. I had to read live for a panel of casting and studio people in an on-camera type, intimidating room where they sat in elevated chairs looking down at me and running me through the copy. I freaked out inside. Still did a fair audition, but my inner turmoil turned into a big, dramatic huffing and puffing after the read, like I’d just lifted a car over my head. They mentioned that I probably wouldn’t be capable of sustaining the role for a whole film if one little audition made me that tired. I insisted I wasn’t tired, just invested in the role. I thanked them politely, then left devastated, thinking that I just blew the biggest opportunity of my life.

The next day, I got back up. I busted through the continuous internal beatings, re-committed to my voiceover career, and auditioned for a little anime show. Certainly not the same level as this movie, but it made me feel a little better. I probably booked it, I don’t remember, what I do remember is that I kept moving forward. Now, more than 20 years later, I get to voice Sub-Zero in the Mortal Kombat games. The full circle took a while, but apparently, I used some of that fuel from that mistake to build an entire voiceover career. I trusted myself enough to get back up and try again.

As I was reading this back just now, I realized I never found out who ended up booking that role, so I looked it up. It was my dear friend, the amazing Frank Welker. Pretty good company to even be in the running with – so early on in my voiceover career! They probably had an offer out to him the whole time and were just looking for a backup plan. If Frank had declined the role, I actually may have still been in the running. So all of that anguish… all of that self doubt… may have been completely unfounded anyway.

Believe in yourself first, guys. You’re capable of so much more than you can ever imagine. Fail magnificently, and trust that you can grow from it. So excited to see what you bring to the party!

Karabast Star Wars! It’s Over!

Karabast Star Wars! It’s Over!

Star Wars Rebels and the end of an era (and a job!)

So I recently wrapped one my favorite shows ever, Star Wars Rebels. This year marked the 4th and final season of an incredible odyssey, and the opportunity for me to play in a universe I loved as a kid, though I couldn’t possibly have imagined “growing up” to become a member of the crew.

Rebels was a huge part of my life for years. While being out of a job sucks, the thing I miss most is seeing the Rebels crew every week. We all bonded deeply on that show, including everyone on the other side of the glass, which is unusual for animation. We truly became the family you saw on TV, albeit (thankfully) with 80% less chance of dying week-to-week. We still get together as often as we can for dinners and events, but that time in the booth can never be recreated.

I’ve said it many times, but the Lucas family is unlike any other. We geeked out together, they included us in the collaborative process, and we became friends for life. We were all heavily invested in giving the fans something special and creating a show of the highest quality possible. We made something we wanted to watch!

When we were told it was ending, it was painful for all of us. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a show to continue more than this one. That said, it was tempered by the knowledge that Dave Filoni and company could tell the story they wanted/needed to tell and finish it on their terms. Clone Wars didn’t have that luxury the first time around. Rebels felt complete to me and as a fan I found that very satisfying.

So yeah, that’s the thing about this business. You effectively lose your job often, sometimes every week! You can bring your all to a part and then you have to… well, let it go. In my Voiceover Classes I tell my students that being a voice actor requires “emotional elasticity.” Being able to handle the ups and downs of the business, the absence of callbacks, the re-casts, the cancellations, and the completion of shows you know will never be again. We’re not just voices, we’re often fans too, and because of that, we’re deeply connected to the characters we bring to life, and are all too often sad to see them go. But…that’s the gig, and learning how to be emotionally elastic is critically important if you want to get into this business and last.

Rebels was like no other show I’ve ever worked on. We stepped into and lived and breathed in the magnificent Star Wars universe. I mean, come on…STAR WARS!!! This beloved place of future legend. We were given the opportunity to voice characters that will now be considered canon… forever! That was an honor no-one took lightly. Sometimes we’d discuss things as simple as the name of a new fruit – like the Meiloorun – for an hour, because if it was going to be canon we needed to make sure it was right. And we were often witness to (and sometimes participants) in nerd battles on both sides of the glass at recording sessions. That’s not something you get to experience with other projects. Most often those kinds of decisions are made well in advance and they don’t need or even welcome input from the actors. They always allowed time for us to be fans and discuss the stuff we knew would be topics of deep nerd conversation for generations to come.

I guess by now it’s pretty evident how much I love and appreciate Star Wars. And I’m grateful every day that I get to do this work at all. Voiceover is so much more than just standing at the mic grunting, screaming, reading some lines and going home. You have to love it to your core to endure the stuff it takes to make it in this business. You also have to love it so much, that when a show like this ends for the right reasons, you can let it go.

Characters like Zeb remind me of the power of connecting to a character and embuing it with as much of a real life as I can in animated form. And the characters always return the favor. I’ll carry a part of him with me forever.

In fact, the best characters bring out parts of me that I may have been uncomfortable with – or even completely unaware of!
Creating art can be a deeply symbiotic, humbling and in some cases course-correcting relationship if you allow it to be.
To do it most effectively, you need to let walls down, drop pre-conceived notions and to trust yourself enough even when/especially when – things become their most uncomfortable.

Part of why I focus so much of my teaching around the inner game is so that new actors can build a solid foundation of confidence, in themselves and in the qualities that they were born with. Rather than only trying to emulate someone else they admire, I encourage my students to become aware of their own unique talents and abilities. To develop their foundational skillset in addition to what they already possess. There is only one person on the planet like you. And that person is amazing, so please never underestimate your gifts.

With regard to the technical side of voicing someone like Zeb, I’m often asked what I did to physically prepare for those sessions. It always began with warmups. Exaggerated vowel sounds, low note humming, stretching the face and body – and enunciation exercises, etc. It’s so important to do this, I taught an entire class on warmups and cooldowns.

Compared to video games, the outbursts of vocal stress in Rebels were pretty limited. Still, I followed the same protocol I always do for vocal care – sleep, hydration, rest, and Chinese herbal throat drops.

Though occasionally a little painful, Zeb’s outbursts were actually healing for me! It allowed me to blow off a little steam from daily frustration without the consistent, unrelenting throat ripping that the characters in a video game so often demand. I always looked forward to playing Zeb.

Something else I tell my students all the time is to listen to the director. In the case of Star Wars Rebels, the Crew (on both sides of the glass) was so tight and dedicated to the franchise – that we were appreciated (out loud!) by the ones in charge and encouraged to contribute. There was a palpable mutual trust, and that collaborative energy made for a harmonious work environment. That’s not always the case, and as an actor it’s very important to remember that you are only there to help realize someone else’s creation. Sometimes a show has been in the works for years before you ever get a chance to be a part of it, so listening to the Director and following directions is not only expected, its morally the right thing to do. Creators are profoundly connected to the characters, As a voice actor, it’s your job to bring them off the page while respecting the vision of those who put them there.

For me, working with Lucasfilm was a dream come true. I’d never before been given that kind of access to so many of the actual creators. From the story group, writers, animators, editors, engineers, music department, lighting, fx, executives, assistants, interns, PR and everything in between, we were allowed to see how it all fits together from the inside. It’s no easy thing to make a show this good. Lucas let us meet some of the hundreds of people required to do this, and encouraged them to meet us. These shows involve incredibly creative people at all levels, hence why I’m often quoted saying “I’m just a voicemonkey.” I do my best to bring a character like Zeb to life, but I’m only a small bearing in a giant machine that has been busy building long before I walked into that booth.

This show will always be a special part of my life, and I’m honored to be a part of the Star Wars Universe, even if just for a hyper-second in the grand scheme (though I’ve made it annoyingly obvious that I’m available for anything they may do in the future!).

If you haven’t watched Rebels yet, as a fellow fan, I highly recommend it (and would even if I had nothing to do with it)! It’s a beautifully executed piece of important Star Wars connective tissue and for some… a perfect gateway into this wonderful universe. May it continue for generations to come and may the force be with you.

error: Content is protected !!