Trigger warning: This post is packed with sports analogies and clichés.
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” Wayne (The Great One) Gretzky
This past weekend, an audition came through my email which demanded my attention. It was for a high-profile client, with a rate over minimum wage. How special. How rarified was my talent orbit that I was one of the chosen few to be invited in to Voice Over Mecca.
Then I read the Facebook threads. Several other – hundred – other actors had been chosen as well. One glibly suggested the rest of us need not waste our time, as they probably already booked the job.
Such is the life of a voice actor. We spend exponentially more time looking, auditioning, and marketing ourselves for the job (and in this case, exponential is an accurate term) than we do performing the job. Face, it, there is a lot of talent, really good talent out there. And we wish them well. We also want to book the gig.
It’s easy to throw up hands and say, ‘Why bother?’ Especially when it’s a ‘big’ job. Stakes become higher. The caliber of the talent, elevated. That’s good news. And reason to celebrate this is a win/win.
First, you made the cut. Someone, whether an actual person, or through the algorithms of a computer program, decided your talent may be a match for their project. You’re now in the game. And you know, money.
Second, you’re competing with a higher level of talent. As a writer, I’d rather be in a room with people with more knowledge, talent and experience than me. I learn to be better, if only to stay in that company, and strive to improve my skill beyond basic prose to something that might actually move someone. What athlete improves their baseball/basketball/tennis/golf/insert-your-sport-here by continuing at the bantam level? Up level your practice, and up level your game.
Third, you can’t win if you don’t play. Who knows? You may actually win that audition. At the very least someone gets to hear what you got. If you don’t make the cut this time, there’s always a new game in town. Production companies, ad agencies, casting agents, they always want good talent on their team. Besides, you get a chance to practice your craft. Flex serious voice, and acting muscle. Get better. That’s the job. That’s what we do.
Lastly, ponder these words from Jimmy Johnson: “Do you want to be safe and good, or do you want to take a chance and be great?”
We often stay in our lanes because we’re afraid of what might happen if we break out. So, you may miss – more times than the ego cares to fathom. But then it happens. You hit one out of the park, because you were just what they were waiting for, and you were ready.
A friend of mine who has enjoyed great success with several long-term businesses, once looked at my clients and rates and declared ‘It takes just as much time to land a small client as a big client. Why play small?’
So, rather than shrink from greatness, let’s embrace it.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” Billie Jean King