There’s a manifesto titled, “Everything I learned about life, I learned in kindergarten.” Having a five year old, I can confirm it: that age is the best age to not only learn about life, but also voice-overs!
I mean, doing voice-overs is about being paid to play. What better teacher than a five year old? Check out what I learned…
We could be sitting on a train next to a complete stranger with physical traits similar to Santa and you can see my son Jack’s little mind churning, wondering, and making deductions.
Coming from a place of curiosity and wonder will help fuel your read. This state of openness allows your own sense of wonder to emerge. Lesson learned!
Trust Your Instincts.
I know he’s only five and just really learning right from wrong, but I see that my son Jack and other children have this awesome instinct for truth. It’s animal-like. I could have the TV on in the background as he’s playing, and Jack will stop to say, “Mommy, that man is not being nice. He sounds like a bully.” He’s referencing to a loud, mega millionaire reality show host-turned-politician on the screen. Somewhere along the way we stop trusting our truth. But we can’t afford to, because this is the path to your true voice, the voice that sets you apart from the rest of the talent.
This ties back to being curious. I could give Jack an empty cardboard box and suddenly it’s a train. Not just any train, but a flying train that goes to the North Pole! Oh, he’s suddenly Santa’s helper. Wait! Now the flying train is a spaceship headed for Mars.
We stop imagining. For me, I think it’s an effort to not want to give the wrong answer (REALITY: there really is no wrong answer), and not wanting to be let down. The harm this does to one’s VO career is detrimental. Some of the most successful commercials have been created from talent using and trusting their imagination! Ummm, Flo the Progressive Girl, to name one. Sure, there was a concept, but the Flo actress used her imagination to help fully shape that character. Imagine what characters are in you!
A child doesn’t think about their breath, they just breathe. When adults are in high stakes situations, we often forget to breathe! The fact is, we can control our breathing. If you want your own unique sound, ideas and voice to come through, [TINA, YOU HAD THWARTED HERE, DON’T YOU WANT TO CONTROL YOUR BREATH WHEN YOU READ?] control your breath.
Focus on What You Love and Play There.
It’s so easy to focus on what’s not working in our lives. Not to get too “self help-y,” but I’ve never had a successful audition when I allowed the icky, pesky and sometimes heaviness of life enter my reads. That doesn’t mean when I’m focusing on all the good that I automatically book the job. But I know for me, when I’m mentally clear – grateful, and coming from a place of openness – my auditions are on solid ground.
After watching a video of a little girl gleefully affirming what she loves about her life, Jack asked to do the same. So here’s my son coming from his own place of gratefulness. Check it out:
Jack recently attended a VO job with me. The producer put him behind the mic for a little while. Wearing headphones mesmerized Jack, the engineer recording his words mesmerized him, and of course hearing playback of his words was the ultimate thrill. It’s so fun to see him talk, and more importantly, play.
Here’s hoping we all embrace our inner 5-year-old. Go play!