As a mother, wife, homeowner, engaged theater community member, and, oh yes, a busy professional female voice actor, I find myself nodding in agreement at Paul Strikwerda’s November post on “overdoing.”
Each day, it seems we’re confronted with an increasing number of things to do, processes to manage, opportunities to pursue. At this point in my career, I feel blessed to be in a position to choose work that fuels me, both creatively and financially. But staying balanced amidst the demands of my personal and professional life as a female voice actor is both a challenge and choice, one I face anew each day when I sit down to work.
The “Buffet Impulse”
I can remember all too well the feeling of walking into a reception and seeing a generous spread of complimentary bites. I know I’ll be in good company if I confess to taking full advantage of those free little cheese cubes during my lean years as a struggling actor. After all, who knew when I’d get my next shot at free food, let alone a gig that would pay me enough to buy my very own brick of cheese.
That impulse to take as much as you can when it’s offered seems a fair comparison for any working actor in their first few years seeking paid acting work. You build a portfolio and book as many acting gigs as possible while the getting is good. Obviously, to turn down work means turning down a paid electric bill, a decent meal, or a chance at another professional contact in your database.
Now, with decades of experience and a solid base of repeat clients, I find myself in a position to balance quantity and quality, and, ideally, achieve professional sanity. This means occasionally turning down voiceover gigs, often because there are simply too few hours in the day to take on every project that comes my way. As Paul so clearly articulated, a tireless schedule can quickly reach a point of diminishing returns.
Know What Fuels You as a Voice Actor
In choosing the work I take on, I’m grateful to have a loyal clientele I can rely on who keeps the “faucet open” so to speak, with a strong flow of projects. I still have to make the time to grow and brand my business, that work is never done. This means being present in social media spaces to make new connections and spending time each day to respond to emails from both new and established clients.
Selecting work that matches my skill set and appropriately compensates my time is important, but I also like to make time for projects that fuel my creativity and remind me why I do this work in the first place.
I’ve written before about collaborating on student film projects. The time spent on these creative, narrative driven projects is meaningful not only because it lets me tap my experience as a stage actor, but also because it feels like I’m giving back to an artistic community.
In today’s world, it can feel like we have an unending to-do list of things to take care of for our family, our home, and our business. In the midst of meeting deadlines, recording scripts, editing and polishing my material and staying in contact with my female voice talent clients, I still always strive to find balance and ultimately do what I love without the workload overwhelming me.
And, I like to remind myself that the success I’ve achieved as a voice actor was helped along by the many acting industry professionals who gave me their time, talent and valuable advice when I was just starting out, hovering around the buffet table and discreetly stuffing my pockets with cheese cubes.
Debbie Grattan has been a working female voice actor for more than 20 years. She has recorded over 10,000 projects while partnering with hundreds of production companies, marketing and advertising firms, commercial voice-over recording studios and corporate/business clients around the United States and abroad. Check out her Female Voice Actor Demos and request a Complimentary Custom Audition for an upcoming project.