Splitting the Difference

by | May 24, 2012 | Ruminations | 4 comments

Is VO all or none?

Can you be “kind of” a voice actor?

If you work in some other profession, but your heart, and your passion and your energy are in VO…are you a half-breed?…a hybrid?

Could someone raise the question of  legitimacy or dedication to the profession if you were not able to give-over your productivity to voice-overs full time?

Forgetting for a moment, the practical reality of why any crazy person would choose to lead a schizophrenic life like that (budget needs, spousal pressure, etc), couldn’t such a person still aspire to being characterized as a voice-actor?


Of course I ask these questions because this is me.  And of course I ask these questions ’cause after these many years toiling away in VO-land, I know of hundreds (thousands?) of others who live and work in this quandary.

It raises the question of whether there are two or more discernible voice over worlds:
1) The person who spends all their working hours fully engaged in the many endeavours that result in running a successful voice over business as their main source of income.
2) The person who spends as many working hours as possible fully engaged in the many endeavours that result in running a successful voice over business…but it’s not their main source of income.


The schism raises even more questions about things like career risk, personal fortitude, self-esteem and motivation.

Why would I NOT work full-time in voice-over so I COULD make it my main source of income?  No guts?  ‘Can’t handle the uncertainty?  Not ready for “the leap”?

Are there those who admit they will never be full-time VO’s?…who use it as a supplement and can’t see it being their only work?…or are the  majority convinced that eventually, it’ll be their main profession?

What about guys like Rob Sciglimpaglia and Derek Chappell — successful attorneys who are working pell-mell to achieve a full-time acting career?  I met an MD at the last NYC mixer who had similar goals.


If that happens…when that happens for any of us “hybrids”… will we then feel ownership to the point of snobbery?…is that what full-time voice-actors feel?  No, I mean I wouldn’t hold it against a full-timer if they felt a certain pride in that.  YOU are the people who took the leap, who managed the risk, who balance your freelance checkbook masterfully, who wear eight creative and marketing hats successfully.

Actually, I’m thinking of writing a book about this.  Would there be interest?  A guide, of sorts, how NOT to go crazy pleasing two masters.  How to hold on to your dream, but still pay your bills.  A primer in living your passion but also accepting the mediocrity of falling short of your goals.  ‘Some lessons learned in managing two worlds and still hold on to your sanity.

Whadya think?




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  1. Roger Barr

    You bring up some good questions, Dave. I so want to be immersed in VO to the point of full time, and it being my “bread & butter” that I’m willing to move to the So.CA area so I can be near the voice coaches I need to be studying with, as well as being near the majority of animation studios (and studios in general), and hopefully the right talent representation! I am fully committed to my success. Is it a leap of faith? You bet it is! Will I keep a regular “day job” so that I can pay the rent, utilities, insurance, etc?? I wish I didn’t have to, but I most likely will! Or at least until I can be certain that I can establish a steady stream of VO work, along with that stream of steady paychecks!

    My life has been transformational. Having lost nearly everything, just over a year and a half ago, I knew this was the right thing to do! I don’t plan on ever looking back on my old life. This doesn’t mean I won’t have learned from my past experiences, hold onto the memories, or live in a state of longing. It just means I have the passion to drive me in my VO career!

    Thanks for bringing up these questions, Dave. While I may still be relatively green compared to many other working VO artists / voice actors, It still does not mean I can not count myself among them. I call myself a Voice Actor and Voice Over Artist, simply because I have received the right training, and have immersed myself into the role of one. I believe the title really starts with a mindset. I do think it is subjective too, but when you think about it, who’s subjectivity? Therein lies another good question.

  2. Dan Deslaurier

    Hey Dave,

    This is the life I live as well, and I, for one, have no qualms about the fact that I am working in two worlds, to both pay the bills and dedicated to make the most of the gifts I have. A long time ago, I learned that one’s career path can take many directions, and those are the roads I’ve walked most of my adult life. Following careers in broadcasting and corporate public relations, I went back to school, achieved my Master’s Degree in Teaching and I’ve worked as an instructor to young children now for over 15 years, and have found a way to blend my passions into my work.

    Actually, I think I learned this from my father-in-law, who is a psychologist/counselor, and for many years hosted a very successful call-in radio program here in Philly. Ironically, he once tried to talk me out of a career in radio!

    Thanks for this thought-provoking read!

    Dan Deslaurier

  3. Lee Pinney

    Hi Dave!

    As you may have noticed, I too have multiple personalities, or careers anyway. I decided in recent years to follow my passions wherever they will lead me. I am not currently full time VT, but I have integrated it successfully in with one of my other passions.

    I would definitely buy the book, as it would be a lot cheaper than Psychotherapy! =)

    • CourVO

      I like the way you think, Lee…I should just “shine-it-on”…and follow my passions without worry.

      That would make life a lot easier.

      Thanks for the time you took to write a comment!

      Dave Courvoisier


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