Pat me on the back, will you? Tell me I'm good enough. Award me that job.
You know that funny feeling you got in your tummy when you fell in love as a lanky, scrawny teenager? Or that feeling you get when you walk into a room and everyone was there in the dark, and they jump out and yell SURPRISE!! Or that sensation you get when you do that voiceover and you catch yourself out in the wild on the radio, in a commercial, or before a movie? And even when you get a trophy after a race, or you win first prize?
It’s rewarding. It’s affirming. It’s a celebration of living life and of accomplishment. Of something happening that’s monumental. In short, it’s being accepted. In short, it’s being chosen.
In Voiceovers, that’s what our careers are all about: being chosen. When I was awarded my first Nutrisystem national TV spot in 2017, I was chosen out of 103 other competitors. I was elated! I was so grateful and walking on Cloud Nine. When we’re chosen to voice a particular project, the die has been cast, and our name comes up, it’s fantastic and wonderful.
But what about all those other races-in-the-running, where we’re striving neck and neck with other just-as-talented colleagues, our friends, our voiceover family, and we’re running at breakneck speed toward that Finish Line called “Chosen”? What happens until that point?
Do we get hung up on wanting to be heard, liked, listened to, thumbs-upped, loved, affirmed, celebrated, accepted, chosen?
Do we enter a state of suspended animation while we wait patiently for the results? In that breathless hum of still silence, what happens?
Eyes on the Prize
I’m gonna go all Biblical on ya’ll. 1 Corinthians 9:24 says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” WOW! There’s no mention of standing still and waiting to see if we’re accepted and chosen? Nothing about sitting there twiddling or thumbs and hinging our confidence and sense of self-worth on whether or not a thumbs-up icon appears? Not a single reference to pacing, waiting to see if we’ve even been listened to?
Nope. It’s eyes on the prize, baby. It says “run”. It doesn’t say stop, or even pause. It’s a constant marathon, not a sprint…it’s a never-ending race, not a quick jaunt. The race of voiceovers began when you first decided to lend your voice to people’s ears and stepped out in faith in trusting that you’d one day be chosen…and it doesn’t ever end. And when you “finish” the race, a new race opens up anew before you. A race of yet another contest. A race of continued focus on being chosen, and neither hanging your hat on, nor holding your breath for, results that signify to you that you might finish first in the previous race.
But really? Who even cares? It’s a race, stupid. (Sorry.) So RUN.
Audition Audition Audition
In voice acting, as with actual acting, it’s a numbers game. They’re always against you. But what have you got to lose by throwing your hat in the ring and auditioning? More to the point, what do you have to lose by persisting in throwing your hat, even when it seems like that particular voiceover job is out of your caliber or comfort zone? You do stretch before a race, don’t you? Why wouldn’t you stretch yourself for this one?
My point is this: keep going. Don't sit and wonder. Don't wait for the results of a previous audition and let them hold you back and impact your confidence level and readiness to run a new race. You're better than that. Keep going.
Audition, audition, audition. And when you’re done, audition some more. Then, in your spare time, audition. And if you can’t find something to do, audition. Run that race and don’t look back. There are plenty of opportunities out there. And if you’re not on any of the pay-to-play sites, then do some “audition” reads and send them to mentors...or family...or friends...and allow them to critique you and help you grow in your running ability. I’ve auditioned for jobs in March and been awarded them in July. I’ve auditioned for them in September and been awarded them in February. You never know when that award will come back around, so stop waiting for it and checking on the results. Leave the Stars, Listens & Likes (Oh my!) behind you. Those ratings may even change after you've initially seen them...so why place stock in them now?
Regardless of whether or not you actually “get the prize” from a previous audition, don’t look backward. Runners look forward. It’s how the avoid obstacles – like worry. Like concern over previous performance. Don’t look back.
You can’t steer your life by the rearview mirror.
Ratings can be deceiving
Just like the movies and all the critics and panners, looks can be deceiving. Just look at this movie that was rated poorly. Did you know that Psycho, The Shining and Fight Club all got negative reviews when they first premiered? Read here for when critics are wrong. Plenty of evidence to support that they are.
Here’s a good example. In one coaching session with Scott Burns, we were approaching our own finish line of sorts: 4pm. Our coaching sessions ran from 3pm to 4pm. When 4pm rolled around, Scott asked me, generously (because that's who he is), “This is great stuff! You wanna keep going?!?!” He wasn’t asking so that he could charge me overtime by the way – he was genuinely interested because we were on a roll. But unbeknownst to him, I had been eyeing my email and seeing audition opportunities come through. I saw one in particular and just KNEW I could knock it out of the park. I told Scott, “Actually, buddy, I would love to – but you’ve lit a fire under my butt, and I have some auditions waiting, and I really feel like I can do them well.” So we parted, I did the audition, and I seriously knocked it out of the park. It was SO good. I mean, cherry pie good. Summer BBQ good. Wizard of Oz good. Living in Heaven good. Running in such a way as to win the prize good. I seriously knocked that sucker out of the park. (It may have actually landed in another zip code).
For the next few days, I anxiously awaited. I think it was a decent-paying job, if I remember…but I don’t remember the content. I just remember that I knocked it out of the park. That's all I needed. I was GOING to get that job, or my name isn't Joshua Alexander, Voiceover Talent Supreme. I was so deliriously giddy and staring at my inbox, just waiting for that Voice123 job to approve me. I eagerly checked back on the audition results over the next day. Waiting, waiting, waiting. At one point, I checked back in, and finally saw the result there, waiting for me, in all its glory, pronouncing my utter victory and being chosen at last, hahaha!! OH GLORY BE!!!!!
Out of four stars.
Actually, I didn’t say “Wait, what?” I screamed “WHAT?!?!?!?!”
25% goodness, out of 100%.
You have got be kidding me!!!
I. Was. Incredulous.
I simply couldn’t believe it! But…but….but…I stammered. I knocked that audition outta the park! I was floored. And thus, subsequent diminishing ensued, such as “they don’t know talent from a hole in the wall.” “They’re crazy.” “Their loss, not mine.” And the inevitable, “WHATEVER.” I must say, it really wrecked my day, and I became a sulkfest.
I hung my hat on four stars…or c'mon, gimme at least three! But one??? Crazy.
That taught me a very hard lesson NOT to rely on the star system of Voice123 (which thankfully has been done away with) …or the thumbs up/listened system of Voices…or the rating system of VoiceRealm (which I’ve since left…they’re appalling and juvenile…I might write a blog post later…). I could have been rated one out of four stars for any one of a number of reasons! Try these:
- I was their fourth choice out of four.
- Their ex-husband was named Joshua
- They were bloated from lunch
- Jupiter wasn’t aligned with Pluto
- Their baby girl accidentally clicked the one star (and then submit) when she was watching ABC Kid TV (PSA: now CocoMelon!) on YouTube on their phone
- It was a Thursday
I prefer Reason Number One. But who knows?!?! And honestly, who cares. Really? Who cares. Run that race. I had to keep going and chalk it up to experience, and just know that it’s ok. It doesn’t matter one bit. Regardless of whether or not they interpreted it as a home run, I still hit a home run.
Go. Just go. I mean it. Go. Hey, are you still here?
Now go run that race and don’t look back. We all like affirmation, sure. Just don't stand still, looking back and waiting anxiously because you're captive to the results of the previous race. Don't let everyone else hurtle past you toward the finish line and you haven't left the gate just because you need to know whether... [insert whatever you've been waiting on here.]
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