We hear so much about the importance of being optimistic when pursuing our dreams. Being positive, visualizing our dreams coming true…even saying positive affirmations. While there are many benefits to these types of practices, the reality is, if our dreams don’t materialize as quickly as we think they should, the sheen of positive thinking can quickly wear off.
So, I would like to share what I have learned about optimism and how it relates to pursuing the dream of voice-acting. I believe there are two kinds of optimism: blind optimism and real optimism. We need both of these at different times in our life.
When we first realize that we want to be a voice actor, or any kind of performer, we must have what I call blind optimism. This is the thing that fuels the passion. It’s quite illogical; your heart drives it. And if it is real, nobody can talk you out of your dream.
I call it blind because, when you are first starting out, you have no real tangible reason to believe that you’re going to be a successful voice actor; there is no knowledge, just an overwhelming desire.
If drive and desire are not present in the beginning, if you are simply dabbling and don’t really know “for sure” that voice-acting is what you want to do, the cards of fate are stacked against you for a career as a voice actor.
When I see blind optimism in my students, I get excited for their future. I’ve had voice students who are chomping at the bit to audition, some have already recorded podcasts, and those who have approached agents before they have a demo. They drive their friends and family crazy mimicking commercials they hear on TV!
While I am not advocating that you look for an agent before you are ready, or that you join pay-to-play voice-over sites like Voices.com before you even have your voice demo, I am saying that if you feel as anxious as a horse at the starting gate, this is a very good sign that you have the drive it takes to propel you into voice-acting.
Now, let’s look at the difference between blind optimism and real optimism.
I’ve come to realize that real optimism is earned. It comes with experience and endurance. Real optimism cannot be cannot be shaken by outside events. It’s a knowing that “voice-acting is what I do; I am in this for the long haul.” Real optimism, when referring to a career as a voice-actor, is only achieved when we know we have built a solid foundation in our art.
When pursuing a career as an actor or voice-actor, there are no guarantees. But, what we can count on is the skill we have mastered in our field. When we have committed to learning (and growing) in our script analysis techniques, when we work hard to know ourselves and that unique quality that only we can bring to a script, and when we understand the importance of consistent marketing and networking, we are already who we want to be. True optimism is not dependent upon the number of jobs we book, it’s the knowing that, by being ready, we will book the auditions that are right for us.
Many beginning voice actors get discouraged when they don’t book right away. When you reach real optimism you understand that not booking is just as much a part of the business as booking.
What is your current level of optimism? If you are a blind optimist, good for you! Stay in the game, and you will reach a comfort level in this business that no one or no audition can take away from you.
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Nancy Wilson is a producer and coach at Such A Voice. She is a busy voice-actor and environmental writer, as well as a member of the SAG/AFTRA Radio Plays committee. She also did an audio recording of this blog piece to show you her voice-over skills!