integrity

An Opportunity for Jack

I’ll start out by saying that neither of my twins dream of becoming full time voice over actors like me. And though they do not share my dream, they support me in every way possible and are actually part of my small business team in integral ways this summer. In the past few weeks, one of my VO besties reached out and said that one of her regular clients needed 14-16 year old voices to do some eLearning narration, and my twins happen to be 16. So, they submitted demo reads. Again, it is not their life’s ambition, but in the summer of Covid-19 they realize that this is a great opportunity to learn and to do something that most kids never get a chance to do.

A script came in for Jack first. He was delighted. He booked his first paying eLearning voiceover gig, and he just needed a little coaching. I will point out a few things. Anyone who works in voice over knows that it is not really about the voice, although I happen to think he has a really nice one. My twins are both dyslexic. Reading fluently is not an easy thing for them. Jack also lacks the extensive coaching that I had that gave and continues to give me so much confidence every time I step up to the microphone. And that’s another thing, if you have never worked with a coach, you need to learn basic mic technique and basic Twisted Wave skills. I am pleased to say all of this came very naturally for Jack. I think much more than doing the actual voiceover, there are many life skills that kids get from having an opportunity to have a voice over gig.

Following Multi-Step Directions

Following multi-step directions is hard for many adults, and there are very specific directions unique to every voice over job. This booking was for sure an exercise in following multi-step directions for Jack. For Jack’s first booking:

  • He had a pace guide that he had to match.
  • He had a pronunciation guide for Mandarin names.
  • He was told to keep an upbeat, happy tone.

Jack also had a lengthy, four page script to narrate while keeping all this in mind for his first time in front of the mic. It’s a lot of balls to juggle for a seasoned pro, let alone a newbie.

How to Take Feedback

Taking feedback well is something important in many aspects of life, and as a working voice talent, taking feedback in a professional manner is part of the job. After Jack submitted his audio, within 48 hours we received a spreadsheet from the client with minor feedback. Jack had done great work. For four pages of audio, he had only four minor corrections. This is pretty incredible for anyone, and especially considering he is so untrained. I explained to Jack how feedback from client works and how important it is that they have what they need. I also explained that we, as talents, cannot get emotional about it, we simply record and send. As a student who is used to the writing process, this is familiar to him. He was able to go back in the booth and re-record. There was one line that was quite long and needed to be read with more fluidity and different intonation. I gave him direction on the line and instructed him on how to break it down. It sounded great. Learning to take feedback well is a really valuable lesson for kids in voice over.

Interacting Professionally

Maintaining a professional demeanor in the professional world is important. I remember meeting Michelle Sundholm’s sons Ashton and Everett at VO Atlanta in 2018.They were so polite and they were so composed. It is this exact behavior that I am talking about. For Jack, since his interaction was online, it meant several details. First, it meant performing his work in a timely manor. It meant taking pride in his performance and doing his best. It meant sending follow-ups and  hand written thank you notes, both to the client and to the friend who referred the opportunity to him. Jack had to carry himself the way the rest of us do, and he took pride in doing so.

How to Be Part of the Team

Doing all of the above is no small thing, and in doing so Jack took pride in being a part of this client’s team and of being part of the other VO’s team. He understood that they had a choice and that there were other kids who could have booked the gig. He did his best. He was kind and he let them know he was appreciative.

My Reflections

I think it is great that my son got this glimpse of what it is like to be in front of the microphone, to live in my world. As the kids have been working for me doing marketing and social media this summer, doing the actual voice work only helps to better understand what it is they are actually marketing. I also think that the tech skills are great for anyone. Lastly, we are living in an unusual time. Kids had to regroup and reshuffle their summer plans this year. Some people who are pursuing in voiceover audition and audition and never book. It is really great that in this odd time Jack got such an exciting opportunity and he is very thankful.

This is written for my twins, Emma and Jack. All I do is for them, all day. Every day.

The Actual Bottom Line

While most of us who work do it because we have an actual financial goal we need to hit, working moms with children at home have goals as role models as well. As my role in my family shifted from that of a stay-at-home mom, a role which I coveted for as long as I could, to a small-business owner who works full-time to contribute meaningfully to my family’s well-being, there is so much that I want my twins, now teens, to take away from this. I spend countless hours in a padded foam booth pursuing my passion for voiceover. There are so many life lessons in the hard work and interactions with both clients and industry friends and colleagues. My hope is the my kids can learn from my experience as a momtrepreneur so that when they have a family and they work they carry not only our family values and ethics with them, but they make good choices because of what I have gone through.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations and Know The Difference Between Your Starting Point and Your Goals

Every one starts somewhere. When I started, I spent a lot of time working on my goals and my business plan, which I reflected on in last week’s blog. You don’t reach your goals over night. Very few people start in life at the top. In an industry like voice over, the first booking, and each and every booking after that, is to be celebrated. As a business owner, building client relationships is essential to building a sustainable business, and relationships don’t happen from one email or from one phone call. It takes time, hard work, and perseverance. Sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes mistakes are made on either side.  But just because it is hard to reach your goals, reach for the stars and don’t be discouraged! According to both Fresh Books and the Houston Chronicle,  “In conventional terms it can take two to three years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing poorly.”  If you have a dream and a goal, don’t give up. If I had gotten discouraged easily, my voiceover business would never have been possible.

Don’t Get Bogged Down By What Others Think About What You Are Doing

When you have a job, everyone will have an opinion about it. Your friends will. Industry friends will. Random neighbors on the street will. Frankly the only voice that matters is your inner voice, the feeling in your gut. You have to decide whose guidance you value and filter out the rest. Once you start letting these voices in, they don’t stop. You have to have an inner compass that is stronger than all of these people who think they know what is right for you. It is almost mind-blowing how many people have opinions on subjects they know nothing about. Decide what is right for you and go for it. I spent a really long time deciding what I wanted to do before I decided to pursue voiceover. Some people thought it was great and were encouraging. Others’ comments ranged from skeptical to cruel. I had to turn a deaf ear to all of it and follow my gut. It felt right and I went for it. It was actually not that complicated. I had a well-researched plan and I was ready. If you are well-educated I know you will make good choices.

No Human Will Ever Love You Like Your Dog Does

And that’s ok, the dog will fill that void. The love that we have gotten from Barclay and Violet has been a great joy, and working in my studio with Violet by my side is a true gift every single day. Dogs are a blessing in this world. When humans have let me down, the dogs have always made everything better. There has never been a time in my adult life when the dog has not been there. You can trust them emotionally completely. Conversely, I would not trust a human who does not want a dog by his or her side. There must be something lacking in their soul.

 

 

Don’t Settle

If you work hard you can have everything you want and need in this world. Dreams do come true, and as a mom I know that to be true! Everything else that has happened in my life aside from the birth of my children is gravy, but knowing the small miracle that they both exist, I was blessed to be Barclay’s mom and that we have our precious Violet, if that can all happen then the jobs and the client relationships, all of that are possible.