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pouting child
photo credit: greg westfall. via photopin cc

Today’s guest post comes from voice over coach and Voice123 voice actress Deb Munro. This is a fantastic article that I read last year from Deb and asked if we could republish it here. With the holidays approaching, we’ll be travelling to visit friends and family and, if you’re like me, you’ll be taking your studio with you. Last year, my family couldn’t understand why I needed to check email constantly and needed everyone to stop chatting so loudly for a few minutes while I hid in the closet. Here’s some info that can help your family (especially your spouse) understand what being a working voice actor is all about.

Understanding the Voice Talent: An Article for your Family by Deb Munro

So you are living with a Voice Talent. I will first send my condolences and my congratulations (LOL)! I am hoping to prepare you for what is about to become a part of your lifestyle; the good, bad and even the ugly.

I want to start by thanking you in advance for your support in your loved ones chosen career. This isn’t an easy choice for your loved one because there can be much ridicule that this isn’t “A REAL JOB” and many talent have to prove themselves talented enough and skilled enough to even try to pursue. Don’t get me wrong, this can be a very rewarding and lucrative career, but what you will see (especially in the beginning), is a lot of trials and tribulations. I am writing this in hopes that you will learn how to understand your loved ones chosen path and find the best ways to support it for your sake and theirs. Sounds like a scary thing already doesn’t it? It’s not, believe me, but it does take a special touch and a ton of support to live this kind of lifestyle, not only for the talent, but the entire family.

“Breaking In”

I can only imagine what its like as a family member to watch as the actor spends tons of time and money into the training, then into setting up and learning the equipment (that can make or break a talent right there), marketing, creating websites (perhaps even learning how to yourself), spending more money on logos, branding items and online voice over marketplaces, then giving away your services for next to nothing in the very beginning and more. Finally, hopefully, you get to see them graduate to the next level where they are actually auditioning and booking jobs. It seems that this is where it gets rewarding, but now you will have to watch as your loved one auditions, gets shortlisted, gets excited and then more often than not loses the job….over and over again – with the booked job here and there in between.

We as talent don’t always consider what you as a family member watch. It must be hard to watch your loved one put so much into something and in the outside worlds point of view for little or sometimes what seems like NO reward. But, if you think the talent in your life doesn’t consider your feelings enough, perhaps you’re not acknowledging theirs. Of course the talent is let down when they don’t get the job and they are more often than not desperate to book the job, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t okay with the peaks and valleys in the road that lies ahead. Hopefully, with the right coaches and the right support system, the talent will learn how to accept these ups and downs and realize it’s just all a part of the process. Not everyone books all the time. Even the top actors of our time got TONS of no’s before they ever got yes’s…they just don’t show you all the trials they went through to get where they are today.

Your Challenge

The challenge in this is you are going through some of their trials with them, so it does directly affect you as well, but I encourage you to let your emotional side go and not feel sorry for the talent’s let downs. Instead, just be there to support them through all their hopes and dreams. They have a ton of pressure on their minds (especially if they are the bread winner) and I’m sure if they are income dependent on this craft, they are harder on themselves than you could ever be.

On the other hand we as talent must respect how much time and effort we can afford to put into our craft. If your actor is quitting work or unemployed and focused only on a full time career in voice over, but not able to book any work or is not ready or just not making enough to cover the bills, this is another matter entirely, however I assure you that if they aren’t pulling their weight (especially if they are the “Man” of the house) they are more concerned about it than you are. As talent we have to be realistic and take this craft one step at a time. I encourage talent always:

“DON”T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB UNTIL THE JOBS CALL YOU TO DO SO”.

What You Can do to Help

Here are some things your family member is going to need from you. This can take a lot of team work and a ton of understanding on your behalf but this is what is necessary to work from home and follow this craft:

  1. Support
  2. Understanding
  3. Patience
  4. When recording – no running water, don’t walk above the floor where they are recording, try to keep all noise down, don’t mow the lawn or run the sprinkler, keep the stereo and music down, this isn’t the time to throw a party or have a bunch of friends over (unless you can keep it outside and away from recording) keep the kids quiet (one of the hardest on your list), the odd time why don’t you come in and listen and tell them what you think. They would love it if you would be involved in what they are doing, even if you have to fake it just to humor them.
  5. A second ear – let them know as a listener and product consumer what you thought of the project they are working on. They need your 100% honesty, but tread lightly here as there are tactful ways to do so and remember you are not an expert, but they can always use a second hand
  6. Get involved as much as you can so you can understand what they are doing
  7. Patience and understanding that they can’t take time off as this is a 24/7 job. I take a studio wherever I go and my family has to get used to it because there is no such thing as a paid holiday anymore. If I have to voice for an hour or two each day while we are on holidays – well I get it done before breakfast is over and the family can do their own thing. It’s my loss, not theirs so plan around these last minute jobs that are out of our control. If I don’t take the job, I could lose about 7 years worth of business with that one client. Remember we can take all the time off we need for the rest of the day. So I devote a min of a few hours each day (I work hard to take off weekends too – but this isn’t always possible)
  8. Be prepared for MANY last minute bookings that will affect the times you leave, the places you stay and more.
  9. Book your vacation destinations so they are voicer friendly (Internet and a means of quiet sounds (control of the air conditioning etc)). This will help your family member know that you support them. We always work hard to take time off, as we deserve it too, but unfortunately due to the nature of the business this isn’t always possible.
  10. Know that if they keep working hard at it, it takes time, but they will persevere if they believe in themselves enough

Till next time everyone.

All my best,

debmunroDeb Munro

My Voice, Your Way!

www.debsvoice.com