Agents and casting directors are tough cookies to impress! At least the ones you want to work with are. When learning a new skill or considering it do you ever find yourself saying, “How hard can that be? I could do that right now.” Then you start listing all your abilities you think are related. In the field of VO, that might include things like, “I can read well!,” “I’m a computer geek,” “I can make funny voices,” and what I hear a lot of is, “People love my voice,” and “I’m already an actor.” The list can go on forever. I was one of those VO wanna be’s who didn’t have a clue and didn’t know it until an agent got notified by the client that I was fired because although I was great in the television spot, I sucked on the radio advt. Wow!
We all need to encourage ourselves and I did after crying in humiliation for a few days. Luckily, I was smart enough to find the very best coaches in the industry and they aren’t cheap. And they don’t love on you either by telling you what (be honest!) you want to hear. It is so uncomfortable to subject yourself to totally objective criticism. Often, you are told, “You don’t know squat!” The instinct is to argue defensively (the worst thing you can do!), run away, shrivel up and claim the coach was the one who didn’t know squat. He failed to see your genius!
I compare it to physical rehab sessions. If you’ve ever had an injury or surgery that includes rehab, it HURTS! But getting painful work done on the ego is a huge part of becoming coachable and then marketable.
My immediate reaction to harsh feedback was to whisper, “Shit!” and it still is. What is also worse and humbling is I’m critiqued on the same things I tell my own students! That is a huge frustration! So I’ve worked on that instinct to protect, refute the comment or make excuses by making it my life or death goal to get a “Good read!” from the professionals I admire and who I’m blessed to work with. I want to become one of them competitively, be accepted into the club of VO’s with great reputations and call them friends. They are already my heroes. I’ll know I got there when one of them offers or refers me to a job!
So, for now, I’m coming to love the sound of my own voices because I’m meeting so many crazy people coming out of my mouth! You can only be the best if you work with the best and accept there’s always something more to learn.
And those agents and casting directors? I know they want me, or somebody, to be the answer to their current challenges and I want it to be me! I love good cookies!