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. We need to Trust that we’ll be remembered when we’re great and not forgotten when we suck, and Trust that they will forget when we suck, but not forget us!
We also need to Trust that we’ve got a handle on the fear, so it won’t be in control when we get our shot. And how about Trusting that we will get a shot!
Let’s look at the definition of the word from Websters Dictionary:
firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
I know it can be 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?
Well, that starts with you, boo. You can 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. In my Voiceover Teaching Series classes, we’ve discussed taking direction and cold reading (reading something you’ve never seen before out loud). It’s pretty clear in cold reading that you have to trust your director. The choices you make will be based on that.
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
People often lose trust when they feel betrayed by others. That’s 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. It happens to all of us – 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. You also make sure you 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.
A Story of how I learned to Trust
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 making 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.
I 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. I thought I’d just blown 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.
It takes time
As I was reading this story 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. I for one am excited to see what you bring to this party!