What's Costing You Work?

Actress for FUNimation and Sentai Filmworks. Over 350 video game roles including Warframe, Smite, and Paladins. Along with on Camera Disney Chanel Actor

Acting is ONLY 1/3rd of why you do or don’t get hired.

           Recently, I've been running into a few new voice actors who’s only focus is on their acting. And that is wonderful! I mean, acting makes up half the name of “Voice Acting” So it should be half voice, half acting.


          Yet it's not.

And while it's possible to make this mistake and still get work, I can’t tell you how many people I've seen miss out on roles not because of their acting, but because of the other two factors.


        As someone who teaches voice acting, it's my job to help my students get better, both in acting and in getting jobs.

      And this morning, I watched behind the scenes as an actor I had worked with, acted a fool in how he presented himself and was then blacklisted. 


And he never. Even. Knew it. Happened. 


Because that’s the thing about blacklisting. It's not a big public event. Its people seeing behind the screen and blocking your name from future auditions of theirs. 

Part of how he was acting was common sense. He’d also taken classes with me where I’d told him to do certain things. And in his behavior, it was clear he hadn't listened. Whether he thought he knew better or maybe just forgot:


The outcome was the same. 


And it also made ME rethink a lot of things. 

          I was about to introduce him to a casting team that really needed a voice like his, but this has guaranteed I won't. Because I can't risk this type of behavior done in my name.

His behavior wasn’t overtly bad. He was just presenting himself as egotistical. He never thanked the person he was talking to, he was bragging online about the potential he had, not giving credit to the person who was giving him the chance, but instead acting like he had done it all himself.
And the person caught him.

        Now I truly believe had someone just TOLD the actor “Hey, you're acting like this is all you. Bro, it’s not. And it's upsetting the people who worked their asses off for you” The actor would have reversed his ways instantly. I don’t think he was TRYING to take credit, but rather trying to over promote himself, thus coming across as egotistical. But the team got mad. And they didn’t want to work with him from here on out. They didn't want to start a fuss by talking about it, they were worried it’d upset him. Now myself, having worked with the actor, I think he would have apologized. And if I get the chance to mention it to him in a lesson at some point in the future, I will. Explaining these things through text always leaves them really upset so I try to explain things softer through a call. But if they don’t know, they will keep repeating it. And though Ive told them once, maybe now that it’s cost them a client in the future, they will value the advice more. 

          Voices can normally be replaced. Having worked in this field for 10 years, I’ve yet to hear a voice that can’t be mimicked. Heck, I'm sure some of you reading can remember a show you watched where the actor was replaced at some point. It's normally for real life issues, but there are certainly a few where it was because of their behavior.

“But Rachael, I know how to not be a jerk”

It's not just not being a jerk, but it's being respectful. The lack of disrespect does not equal respect. 

         The problem with the person mentioned above was too much ego. Maybe he’d taken a class somewhere that told him to present himself this way. Maybe he just saw others doing it online as I've seen MANY people do something similar.

Even though it doesn't work.

That could be a whole topic altogether. 
New voice actors doing things other new voice actors do thinking it will make them professionals.

       When truth be told, they just don't have the experience in the field to know.
Not that new ideas are bad, but rather following the lead from someone also trying to find their way can leave you just as lost if it doesn't work out for them.

        So since I've hinted at the issue and told you with examples that it recently cost actors jobs,what are these 2 other factors?


Marketing and Presentation. 


       I have a monthly Marketing class I teach covering how to get work in the industry. (Mentorship Mondays- Next in August: https://www.sunnybluestudios.com/copy-of-2021-class-schedule) 

        I also have a class about Audition Etiquette. (All About Auditions: In December: https://www.sunnybluestudios.com/copy-of-2021-class-schedule)


         The reason Marketing is important, and I make my classes included with the mentorship to customize it to each actor, is because without a way to be heard or found online, you spend most of your time searching for auditions and clients. Where marketing makes it to where they find you. The last time I searched for an audition online was back in 2019. All auditions I get are sent directly to my email. Allowing me to focus on my voice acting instead of searching for auditions. When an actor creates a system like this, it gives them a lot more free time to ACT instead. Ironically, many actors who say “I want to spend my time acting” in actuality spend their time searching for auditions and they just aren't even noticing it. 


           Presentation ties in with this. How you structure emails, where you store samples of your voice acting work, how you present yourself online both in communication and style of acting presentation, matter greatly. 
Example: Sending links to your instagram instead of your website. Often because actors starting off don't have a website. This subtle action can be the make or break on if someone even LISTENS to your audition. Public auditions like those found on twitter get thousands of responses! And many directors do not have the time to listen to each one of them. While there certainly are those who do, a large majority skim through the email itself and decide.
Not saying anything at all can often be just as bad, if not worse, than sending something with the presentation off.


       This all from the surface sounds nitpicky, but it's all these little things that add up to make it to where someone may decide “Eh, this one doesn't seem that professional and I want a professional” and trash your submission.

Now some people respond with “Well then I just wont work with those people”
You're right. You won't work with them. 
But ask yourself this question, do you want to work in an environment where professional isn't the standard? 


         Project leads, especially for big projects, are trying to create the best team possible! And when you present yourself as a professional, you create a sense of trust and peace with the director that they can count on you to show up on time, turn in lines, do retakes. But if your first presentation causes the project lead to be unsure, then it can really harm your chances of getting hired. “If they don’t know how to present themselves professionally, what else don't they know how to do professionally? What if they end up quitting in the middle of the project and I'm screwed? Better go with someone I know can do this”

Now back to presentation and marketing, I mention these two classes but they are never as filled as my performance based classes.


         On the one hand, I understand this as most of us became actors to ACT.


         But the other two classes directly affect how much and often we GET to act. 


         So in the long run, if an actor would like to have more jobs than they can handle (And yes this is possible. Many actors I know and myself included, normally have a filled schedule and have to turn jobs down) then they need to look at the other 2 factors.


          Now of course, if your acting isn't believable, you need to fix that first. All the marketing in the world won't fix that. And while a good presentation will get you a patient director willing to teach you, it still gets you tossed aside to the rush jobs or directors without time. 
          Another thing I notice is actors thinking their ACTING isn't good enough and that's why they aren't landing roles, when it's really their marketing or presentation that needs to be changed. But we often get trapped in a “What worked before” Mindset. At some point, their acting needed work, they improved, they got more roles. But now that’s not the issue, yet they are still trying that way anyway. They try an old key wondering why it wont open new doors.

          I hope those of you reading take the time to invest in your career with both these fields. 
Teachers in this field often have years of experience. Some of those years are filled with mistakes. And they want to teach actors to NOT make the mistakes they did so your career can grow faster than ours. 


          One of the first things I say in interviews when asked “What’s something you wish you’d learned sooner” is “Audio Quality differences. I thought I was giving good audio till I learned what truly good audio quality was years later. Now my home studio has been praised by engineers at bigger studios as being “Better than what we record with””
And it cost me work not knowing that. 
I still worked. But I kind of kick myself when I think back on all the jobs I could have gotten if I'd known that.


         Not knowing things in voice acting can and has cost people jobs. 
That doesn’t always hold an actor back for long. It takes a good amount sometimes to get blacklisted. And sometimes it's just the shadow of the doubt “Do they KNOW what they are doing?” that can hurt your career. Or forgetting and not listening to advice like with the guy mentioned above. It was enough for me to go “Maybe I won't introduce him to that client after all. He's not ready”


         Not to say he will never be ready. But he’s definitely now associated in my mind with this. Which means rather than being a neutral or positive association, he's already got a warning tab. And that means he has to work harder to prove it wrong from his past actions.

In short, remember what teachers tell you. We say it for a reason.

         Look for help in things you don't know. You don’t know what you don't know and that's why so many teachers who do know try to put information out there.
My discord server has a “Free Resources” section where I've got tons of free info I've put out over the years. Even this post is free. And if you find anything in here or that section of the discord helpful, I hope you consider taking a class. Because what I share for free doesn't compete with what I teach in classes. Learn from myself and others who have the experience to help you get work. Look to those who are working, who are where you want to be in your career, not to the person beside you. 

            While this post is a bit more cautionary in nature than my normal things, I'm very miffed my student not only didn't listen, but that now it landed him into a situation I had warned about previously.

So I hope this helps someone else avoid that. 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share this post online if you think it will help anyone
-Rachael Messer
Free Resources for Voice Acting Info: https://discord.gg/hRtbFxdnHP
My Classes: https://www.sunnybluestudios.com/copy-of-2021-class-schedule

Thank you for Reading!