I remember when I first started out in this industry - as if it were just yesterday! I was timid, unsure I would be able to survive and truly make it. And terrified that I just had made a terrible mistake quitting my comfortable cushy job that, in reality, was slowly killing my insides. I remember wishing I could talk to someone - anyone - who could give me some words of encouragement as I stepped into the unknown world of running my very own voiceover business. Thankfully, I survived and yes, I am still here! To say I am grateful is an understatement, and I am loving my career more and more each day. So for those of you just entering into the industry (and for those who have been here for a while), I have a few things to say. I hope this helps to illuminate your path!
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
We put a man on the moon using slide rules and long division. How? Because we decided to. We imagined what could be possible and pushed for a new paradigm. The same can be said for the attitudes of fresh-faced young talent. Newcomers, artists, creators, and dreamers often take tentative steps forward by stepping into a room, (or virtual group) with a head full of questions and their hearts full of the stuff of which dreams are made. They have what some industry long-timers may have lost … awe. These “voices of tomorrow” imagine a future of creative expression and see all the possibilities laid before them. What a glorious lightness of being!
That is until the naysayers, who somehow seem to surface more and more lately, attempt to block that light and quell their spirit.
“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Gentle Reminder: To all the veterans, industry professionals, casting agents, and armchair quarterbacks, do you remember when you were a fresh, new talent? Do you recall having a dream in your heart and feeling your potential in your soul? Your nerves overwhelmed you so easily every time you stepped up to the mic. Yet, you carried on. There were so many secrets to learn, and skills to practice. And from time to time, I’m sure you hit roadblocks. It’s easy to think we’re being helpful when we give our sage advice to amateur talent who is just getting started. But sometimes we get exasperated at the same questions over and over, and then point out and highlight all the mistakes they’re making while telling ourselves it’s tough love and helping to weed the garden. But what are we really doing? We’re inhibiting growth and silencing a voice. And yes, I understand that groups are searchable and that it is sometimes frustrating that new talent may not always do the thing that seems obvious to us. But please don't forget that a kind word or two of gentle encouragement can go a long way to lighting a path. A harsh word spoken in the ethers is there forever for others to see - over and over again. I had two types of teachers when I was young, ones who knocked me down and others who lifted me up - I remember it SO vividly. Which teacher helped you more? I personally would much rather encourage all growth and nourish the young sapling to help it reach its full potential.
“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” – Neil Gaiman
To all aspiring talent; do it. Go forth in the face of no evidence. We need you. The world needs you. You are what makes art meaningful. Understand you’re going to have missteps; you’re going to do things the “wrong” way. And that’s more than ok, it’s necessary. Evolution in art and life happens because of a small change that leads to something new and different. They say change is inevitable, but change and evolution aren’t the same things. With evolution, we create purposeful advancements that allow us to thrive and grow. We need evolution. You have a voice. You have a perspective. You have a unique ability to create in a way like no one else. Please make those bold choices!
“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut
We need more artists in the world. Art has the power to heal wounds; it also has the power to tell stories that allow us to see others’ perspectives. Art can help make life better for everyone near it. Art is a mirror of the world. We need more art in the world. We’re living in a time where battle lines are drawn and positions are entrenched. The contrast of us and them, right and wrong, black and white are very prominent. Every artist is a potential healer, a shaman, or a storyteller who can allow us to blur those lines and share perspectives. With all of the division we must already overcome, it seems silly to create more by stifling artistic expression.
“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” Neil Gaiman
Every imagined idea, every sentence uttered into a microphone, every file uploaded to the internet is full of living, breathing potential. There is unbridled joy in creation. It’s a spark of light that, even if only a faint glimmer, pushes away the dark. Every creation has meaning from a silly childhood scream into a camera, to a 20-hour audiobook. When we as creators are encouraged to express ourselves without restriction, magic happens! Sure, there is a lot of mediocrity, but without the mundane, there is no excellence.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
There are those in our field who think in order to succeed you must follow a well-trodden path. For them, any deviation from the known order of things leads to failure, humiliation, and hurts our industry. Sure, the well-worn path up the mountain is safe, but it allows for little deviation. It’s hard to stand out when you blend in. If you take the path less traveled or blaze new trails, expect the heavy hand of criticism to fall upon you. But pay no mind. Push on and find your voice.
Enjoy the Journey
The voiceover industry is always evolving, and there is no doubt in my mind that we are now embarking on a new chapter, facing a tremendous wave of disruption. This is beautiful! This is exciting. To all the new talent out there. Stop waiting for permission from the old guard. Stop listening to those who espouse the rules of creativity. Yours is the world to disrupt. The naysayers who harp on and on about right and wrong are proverbial trolls under the bridge. Pay them no mind. Continue your journey of creativity. Honor your potential by holding your arms wide open and exclaiming at the top of your lungs, “I believe in my voice!” Then take a deep breath and whisper, “trust yourself.” Now, shoot for the moon!
Much love and Keep on rockin' your voice and your biz!
About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold. Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.