C3PO: Star Wars’ Surprising Contribution to Voice Acting

by | Jun 30, 2015 | Ruminations

c3poThe Force is going to be with us again this year.  Who doesn’t love Star Wars?  How has it survived it’s own cliché reputation all these years?

Strangely enough, I’ve recently stumbled onto a cryptic code buried in the name of the iconic robotic star of this most enduring movie series of all time!  It came to me during a recent visit to Africa, as I lay writhing on my cot in sweat… my tent no protection from the fever of a thousand mosquito bites.

Nah…actually I just made it up.  

But maybe the mnemonic device I’m about to share with you will help you discover some of the basic elements that I find essential for success in a freelance voice acting career.


Some are going to find this hokey, but I’m a staunch believer that COMMUNITY is an important component of any voice-actor’s healthy business.  We don’t work in a vacuum.  We are all part of a shared marketplace.  Sure, you’ve got your private studio, and I have mine, but your job opportunities come from somewhere. Relationships are what drive your business, and no one can escape the milieu of the modern culture that enables our work.  

So, maybe Connectivity is a better word, ’cause that also pays tribute to the incredible opportunities afforded us by the internet which has changed voice-acting forever.  A voice-actor can be successful without being active in the VO community, but isn’t that kinda sad?  Why not take advantage of  vibrant, helpful, encouraging colleagues available to you.  (Ahem, this is where I ask:  Have you joined World-Voices Organization yet?).


PASSION  Unless you possess this career-enabling factor, I’m afraid voice-acting will not be fun for you…or worse: just a job.  It’s true for any endeavour you pursue.  Teaching, driving for Uber, Supreme Court Justice, or a London Bobby…passion will see you through when the routine or challenge of the job wants to wear you down.  I like the term “immersion” as well.  With passion, you can move mountains…and sometimes when you’re truly immersed in your work, you don’t notice…well….the work!

PRACTICE  I was consulting with one of my favorite VO coaches the other day.  She admitted to me that when she first started out, she was cutting as many as 50-60 auditions per day, and some days NONE of them hit paydirt.  Luckily she possessed passion…but she also benefited from ALL THAT COPY by getting a world of practice.  Now she’s booking all day, every day.  Not one day should go by without you practicing somehow, somewhere on your voice work.

PROMOTION  This is one of the most important hats we wear.  Call it by any name, but if you are not promoting yourself, you’re not getting work.  Cold calls, demos, emails, postcards, social media, advertising… whatever you are doing to get your work noticed is “promotion” of your voice and your service to the client.  Some of us (ahem) really struggle with this, and this is where you have to fall back on “passion”.


ORGANIZATION  I’m using this catch-all term to encompass your ability to be efficient in your business.  Have processes in place.  Use proven protocols.  Take advantage of the amazing online tools, software and hardware devices to cut costs, trim time, and be orderly.  Maybe it’s better for you to shop out some dull tasks, to free you for the finer points of creating and performing.   The successful voice actors find proven practices that offer good return on their investment of time and money.  Never doubt that the secret to running a lucrative business is to handle well the details OF business.

…and let’s not forget that one of the big stars of the original Star Wars movie — Mark Hamill — is now a highly successful voice actor.  

Clearly he saw the hidden C3PO code!




Share This