What If I Don’t Have the Basic Talent to Make it in VO?

by | Mar 6, 2008 | Op/Ed

Susan Berkley offers a great response to that question from a newbie in her recent newsletter.  I’m not sure I agree that we’re always in control of our own destinies, but regardless, her reply has merit:


If you  are allowing your success to be determined by factors outside of your self you are destined for failure. The concept of talent is a trap. If your mother thinks you have talent do you? Probably not. If an agent thinks you have it, do you? Well, maybe. If a client loves your voice and hires you for lots of jobs, then that’s probably all the proof you need that you are indeed talented.  But then if another client thinks you stink, what happened to your talent then?   Did it disappear? Do you just give up? Many people do.

Talent is just one of the many excuses we use to relinquish control over our lives and our professional destiny. Here are some of the others. I can’t make it in voice-over because:

–          The competition is too fierce
–          Somebody told me I was no good.
–          The economy is bad. The market is down.
–          I’m living in the wrong place
–          I don’t have any money
–          I’m too old
–          I’m too young
–          I’m the wrong ethnicity
–          People say I’m crazy
–          I’m not lucky
–          I don’t know how to market myself, etc  etc.

Most of these so-called obstacles to voice over success are myths and misconceptions and others are marketing challenges that can be overcome through grit, persistence and by getting the right information Unfortunately, most people resign themselves to mediocrity by taking the lazy way out and refusing to get the information and training they need to build the skill set necessary for success.

Look.  No matter how much I wanted to, at this point in my life I will never become a top women’s soccer player or championship tennis player.  A window of physical opportunity has certainly passed.  But making it in voice-over isn’t like making it in professional sports.  I can share countless examples of people who started and became successful in voice-over later in life or as a second career.  One talent I know is a charming and distinguished grandfather who built a successful voice-over career after selling his paint business!  His success didn’t come easily to be sure.  He trained diligently with the best coaches he could find.  He markets himself assiduously.  He networks ferociously.  His demo tape is top notch and up to date.  And he takes a sincere interest in the people he markets himself to.  He wasn’t born with his voice-over talent.  He acquired it through passion, hard work, and focused persistence.

I have a student in my mentor program who sold a business, and although he could have retired he decided now was the time to have the life he always wanted. He built studios at his summer home in Michigan and his winter home in Florida. He got work almost immediately and now, almost 5 years later, has built a very successful voiceover business on his own terms.  In future issues, I’ll be debunking other excuses we use to limit our success. But for the time being, don’t let the myth of talent be one of them! Talent is something people say we have after we work our butts off and respect and nourish our God-given potential. It’s the  magnetism we give off when we are passionate and focused about our work. And it’s the contribution we make as a team member to the projects we are called upon to support with our voices and our acting skills.




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