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“I’m so jealous, Dave, you just get paid for talking”….
These were the words spoken by a great friend of mine outside the voice acting industry. Immediately when he said that, I punched him in the face.
Okay, no. I just thought that would be a funny way to begin this entry. 😀
Nothing of the sort happened. I was just hanging out with him recently, but told him that I had to leave a little early because I had to record a spot for a client in a few hours. He responded with the quote you see above (or rather, heard a few seconds ago, if you’re listening).
I certainly wasn’t offended, of course. I’m sure to someone outside the voice-over industry, that’s probably exactly what it looks like. Many people come into the VO business under the misconception that it’s this easy career where all you have to do is read in front of a microphone. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, though. Our job is, more often than not, to make the words given to us sound natural, and it’s not the easiest thing to sound natural with words that are not our own. You need to be able to act. You don’t necessarily have to have acting experience per say, but you do need to have acting talent. Because every job we get, no matter what it is, is still an acting job.
If the idea of acting is intimidating to you, then I suggest you try it out. Sure, show biz is difficult, and Hollywood may not be very accessible, but acting, in and of itself, is very accessible. Try it by taking acting classes, or doing Community Theater or improv classes, and find out what you like about acting. If you try it and you don’t like it at all, that should be your first red flag. However, if you do find that you like something about it, figure out what it is, hone in on it, and let that be your passion for why you act.
And yeah, you guessed it, this blog entry is going to be about what my passion for acting is.
Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am autistic. I have something called Asperger Syndrome, which is a disorder on the “Autism Spectrum.” To give this disorder an (absurdly) short summary, it means that I have difficulty in the area of social interaction. Thankfully, I had a very mild case of it to begin with when I was first diagnosed at the age of four. The signs were pretty clear, though. I didn’t really interact much with the other kids, got really quiet in large group settings, I usually couldn’t complete a conversation without imitating a Disney character, and despite being unable to carry out a full conversation, I memorized the entirety of “Phantom of the Opera.” When I was three years old. I suppose one could say I had a hard time understanding people.
Thankfully, because of consistent, effective occupational therapy, I have grown up into a functional adult. As Asperger’s is a life-long disorder, though, I’ll never truly be “rid of it,” and even to this day I’m given reminders of that. I still struggle with it in that I still hate interacting with large groups, and after about a half hour of being in one I just sort of “shut down” and stop talking. I’ll often drive to big events separately from my friends so that I can leave early. And every once in a rare while, you’ll hear me breaking the conversation entirely to bring up a funny YouTube video that saw the other day–even if it’s not at all related to the conversation at hand.
Speaking of which, have you guys seen this?
Anyways, joking aside, it has always been hard for me to be “normal.” And voice-over often calls for us to play the “normal, everyday guy that you’d go out and have a beer with.” That’s…not really who I am. In trying to figure out the mindset of someone like that, though, I feel I can get closer to that mindset and understand it more. For that reason, I’ve booked many jobs playing that kind of guy. With every character I play, I have to figure out why they think the way they do, and that helps me understand them. Which is why I credit my acting experience in addition to my occupational therapy to helping me mitigate my autism: I love acting because it helped me to understand people, and it continues to do so.
Someone once told me that you have to be borderline-insane to actually want to be an actor, because of how difficult the job is. It certainly is difficult, but it’s one that I have an uncontrolled passion for. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. So find out what gives you your passion to act, hone in on it, and all of your shortcomings in this career will, in hindsight, look trivial against the successes you have had.
PS: Also, have you guys seen this?