I was 13 years old when I enrolled in my first real acting class. Not the cutesy, school play kind of acting class, but real acting with real technique. It was a summer school program with a teacher who was known for being very tough…and boy, was I in for it. This was totally outside the realm of your average middle-school, “Everybody did great!”, type of environment. There were no pats on the back just for saying your lines here. We learned about things like “emotional recall” and “character analysis.”
There was also a showcase at the end of the summer. I was given a very mature role to play. My character was a mother, who had just lost custody of her children and was begging for them back. When you are 13, it is kind of hard to come up with a related recall for such a serious subject. During rehearsal, that fact became obvious to my teacher, as she saw me just kind of “pretend” and go with the flow. She stopped everything and in front of the whole class had me do some improv work to help build my character. For 2 hours, I was yelled at, pushed to my emotional limit and beyond, and ended up in tears at the end. Everyone thought my tears were just me finally getting into character. I was actually just frustrated, but I transferred the tears to my character and finally, everything “clicked.” I understood, for the first time, what it meant to become a character and to bring a story to life for an audience. The showcase was a huge success. I continued to take acting classes after that.
Once out of high-school, I went out to New York, and studied voice and acting with teachers, who were just as tough on me. I had 15 classes a week, worked weekends as a receptionist in lower Manhattan, and did some free work weekly as an extra for a national TV network. I was tired a lot! When I forgot my lines, slacked, didn’t retain the information I was taught, or just struggled with something, my teachers really didn’t have much sympathy. They just gave me a failing grade for the day. That terrified me. I learned that I had to work hard to achieve great results. I am SO thankful for these experiences. I learned from those who challenged me! I am better able to analyze a script, make choices on delivery, handle rejection, get into character and be an artist because of these experiences. If I had teachers, who just wanted me to feel good about myself, instead of forcing me to get better, I never would have learned a thing. My point is, anything worth doing is never easy. Success is very rarely instant. You will fail many times before you succeed. Success comes from learning from failures and improving yourself. People and experiences that challenge you are GOOD for you.
Being successful as a voice-over artist isn’t easy. It is very competitive. You need to be trained and prepared. If you have thin skin, this isn’t for you. Learn from rejection. Embrace the challenge! Let challenging situations force you to improve your skill. You’ll be better in the long run!
Best of luck to everyone!