working-man-microphone.jpgWhat does it mean to be a working class voice over talent?

Whether you’re doing voice over full-time or if you’re pursuing voice acting part-time while another job pays your bills, being down in the trenches has its benefits.
Curious to learn more?
Vicki Amorose joins us with her perspective on what it means to be a working class voice over talent, championing the artists who persevere each day to make a living and build a life for themselves behind the microphone.

Reflections on Creativity and Paying the Bills

By Vicki Amorose
This summer I was in the Oregon Cascade mountains, getting to know the family of an old friend and trying to explain, once again, exactly what I do for a living. Gazing at their puzzled expressions, I surprised myself by saying for the first time, ‘I’m not a celebrity voice talent, I’m a working class voice talent.’ I continue to reflect on that idea. When you cruise around the VO industry sites, as I do, you will encounter the Voiceover Superstars. Their pictures smile out at you and you wonder if you’ll ever achieve their status. You somehow feel smaller, plainer, meeker.

I’ve come to realize that how they craft their voiceover career has little to do with how I craft my voiceover career.
Consider this as the real beauty of our business; you get to make it up yourself. You get to craft a career that fits how YOU want to live and work.
Outside of Los Angeles, voiceover is a different playing field. I live in a Pacific Northwest university town, which is hardly the hub of voiceover activity. But it’s a good place to live and raise kids and it is where I’m staying for now. So while some of the advice available from LA and east coast pros applies to my career, much of it does not.

The Northwest is where I choose to live and this is where I have to figure out how to be a voiceover artist. Don’t let anyone else’s business model deprive you of a sense of success. I was in voiceover for five years before I made $5000 a year. I persevered because I love my job. It’s a blessing to be able to structure my time to nurture family, friends, and my other creative pursuits. I also hold a part-time copy-writing job, which does not make me less of a voice talent.

There are those who will imply that only full-time voice talents are real voice talents. Many of us working class voice talents hold second jobs that provide steady paychecks.
This does not make us less talented or less dedicated. We are simply paying the bills.
The fact that I’m still doing what I want to do–that’s my big success story.
We live in a remarkably conformist time. People want to know why I don’t Twitter. ‘Everybody Twitters!’ they explain.

I have nothing against tweeting, but the last time I did something solely because everyone else was doing it, I was in the ninth grade. You’ll get career advice that says, ‘Record your demos this way, market this way, brand this way, take this class and join this group.’ You will feel pressure to copy everyone else. Your individuality is the most important thing you bring to the voiceover industry. Creativity is at the center of our industry and it should be at the center of our choices. Do not stuff yourself into a mold.

Regardless of your income or industry status, be an individual. Create your own career, and don’t make needless comparisons with other voice artists.
“A working class hero is something to be”
– John Lennon
Thanks for reading,
Vicki Amorose
©iStockphoto.com/SpellbindMe

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her blog serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling through the power of the human voice. Stephanie was recently listed on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, Vicki —
    Absolutely true! In fact, even if you live in the NYC metro as I do, there are certainly an infinite number of ways to invent yourself in this business living here. The voice over world is wide and varied, and every one of us sets his/her own goals, and builds the career in which he/she is happiest. Success is, and always has been, a very individual concept. None of us should let others define it for us.
    No matter where we live.
    Diane

  2. Brava, Vicki! I, too, am “takin’ what they givin’ ’cause I’m workin’ for a livin'” (Apologies to Huey Lewis and the News). Sometimes the focus has to be sharpened because the ‘day job’ may be a little mundane and not quite as fun as voiceover…but work is honorable none the less in no matter what form it takes. There are those who might be reading this who have experienced the alternative–NOT working. Please don’t be discouraged and don’t give up on what you know you can do!
    Great, great article.

  3. Vicki- untold heartfelt thanks from someone who is where you were, but moving steadily forward.
    Stephanie- great appreciation for your posting this magnificent person’s story, and having the the wisdom to get it out there to be seen first thing Monday morning. It gets no better than this.
    Regards,
    Glenn Carella
    “The perfect road is ahead of you. Always ahead of you.”
    Sri Chinmoy

  4. Hey, Vicki –
    I raised two kids and got to be a stay-at-home Mom because of my choice to do voiceover work during that 20+ year period. I applaud your courage to be there for your family and for yourself too. Lifestyle choice is an important one. Money and fame… well, I wouldn’t turn them down, but I’m just grateful that I wake up everyday and look forward to my work. And you just can’t put a price on that.
    All the best,
    Linda

  5. Hey Vicki,
    Really enjoyed this article — the thing I most enjoy about slowly, steadily growing my voice over business is that, if this makes sense, I take on what I can handle, and working at that pace helps me handle more, gradually and confidently. I used to gape at my friend Matt the audio engineer when he edited files at lightning speed…how did he know all of those settings and macros?? But after creating and sending so many auditions and client projects, I feel the same “muscle memory” starting to build, and recording/editing go so much more quickly now. I’ve gotten busy enough to farm the editing out at times–it’s so much easier to articulate what needs to be done to the files after doing it myself for this long.
    Congrats and have a great week!
    Andi

  6. Hey Vicki!!!
    Thank you!! thank you!! thank you!!! We are a family of fiercely independent diehard non-conformists..lol, so your article hits home! I raised my kids doin’ my own thing as the owner of a dance-fitness biz – bc the passion hit like a ton of bricks..swept me off my feet!!!! (literally!!!) 25 yrs later..VO dreams resurfacing…kids grown – I took a leap of faith and moved forward. This time I made every “mistake” in the book..and sure I’ll make more!!! (Wasn’t it just the way I was supposed to learn the things I needed to learn?) Honing the VO craft + a la carte skills…takes TIME…and it’s a continuous process…but I’m still standing..(yeah..yeah…yeah.) to say…YAY…to VO!! I appreciated so much hearing your thoughts and about your perseverance. I feel blessed to be given opportunities in this life. After all..without the passion as the foundation – the journey would be nothing. It does get better…just gotta keep on keepin’ on!!!! Right? Thank you for opening up this door Vicki!!!! 🙂
    *Btw – your comment was retweeted on Twitter which is where i originally saw your article….okay I admit it – I tweet sometimes.
    All the best to you!!!!!!
    ~ilene Russell

  7. Vicki, you have no idea how much I needed your article today. Thank you so much. And Thank you Stephanie for posting it.
    Many Blessings,
    Diane Merritt

  8. Just wanted to say that I’ve read all the comments and emails, and it has meant a lot to me. Thank you all for taking the time to respond!
    The timing must have been right for the message. Thanks Vox Daily for getting it out there. Maybe I’ll write a Working Class VO Talent Part 2 sometime! Again, thanks for your kind words.
    Vicki Amorose

  9. I live in Los Angeles and, trust me, even many L.A. pros are working class VO artists. When I tell people what I do (and you’re right, sometimes you have to explain it really slowly for folks to get it) they say “isn’t that just done by famous actors?” Well, maybe if it’s IBM… but they’re not falling all over themselves to do Tidy Bowl. So we get by on local and regional jobs that “pay the bills.”
    But the internet has really changed the playing field. Now you CAN live anywhere and if you develop your skills and consistently work at it you can earn extra money–or a living– in the voice over field. The expansion of media right now is mind-boggling–and it all needs voice talent.
    And you’re right about being unique. This business is competitive but each person is completely one-of-a-kind. How you market yourself, what training and coaching you need, what types of voice overs you excel at, all differ from individual to individual.
    What a wonderful business where they have to hire YOU because no one else is like YOU.
    If you lead with what makes you unique the world will beat a path (even if it’s a small path) to your VO door

  10. Thank you for sharing the “working class” viewpoint. It took me 8 months to get my first VO job and then 2 months went by before I got the second. I HAD to have another job interest to pay the bills! The most ironic thing was that both clients weren’t interested in any of my demo voices–they wanted my “natural voice.” Unique clients? Shocking! I know! I was spinning samples left and right with what I thought was “the VO way” and it came down to “can we have one with your natural voice?” Why did I work so hard? I don’t know because I didn’t have to! I’m not a conformist by nature but I also didn’t appreciate my “unique” enough to think it was worthy of giving right off the bat. Surely, the X amount of dollars I invested in having my demo produced by a professional studio was worth more than my own natural voice!! Puzzled, I discovered that “My Way” wasn’t so bad after all (the song, too)! The biggest hurdle in this field is the one you prop up for yourself. All the VO do’s and don’ts are great, but now I appreciate them for what they are: Advice. Like my mother-in-law, I respect her, I listen to her and I even take some of her advice, but I might have to try this thing my way because in the end, it is still all about…the VOICE! Thanks for the reminder, Vicki, you cheered me up!

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