It’s been said that, “Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”
So, what does it take to go the distance in this industry?
There’s no single answer. There are four: pursue, persist, prepare, and promote. These four components are absolutely vital to succeed at anything, let alone creating or furthering an acting or voice-over career. It’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure these elements are continually in play if you hope to succeed. They are required of you no matter how far along you may be—regardless of whether you are just beginning, or whether you have been established and are aiming to raise your game to the next level. They are a constant.
Whatever you accomplish in this business will only come about if you pursue it. Nothing will come to you, no matter how much talent you may have. Even with the benefit of nepotism, it’s ultimately up to you to run your career. This is your business and no one else’s. Own it. Opportunities are what you make of them.
You have to set your sights on your immediate goals, and then persist at them, and often beyond what you might first consider a comfortable margin. Additionally, developing and then maintaining your skills requires persistent dedication. This element only increases with success, not the other way around—contrary to what many novices may think.
So, if you find you’re easily frustrated or simply give up after a few months of training or even after only a year or two of promotion, then you may never honestly know for yourself what you could have created without real, long-term persistence.
Preparation means continually developing your abilities, and along with ongoing promotion, this requires patience. Allow yourself to continue to develop your skills. Agility is not naturally intuitive and talent can atrophy with lack of use. It takes attention. Otherwise your skills won’t be sharp when called upon at a moment’s notice. And they will be tested. Without the persistence of working your skills you will serve only to undermine your own confidence. Your confidence is directly related to your integrity as an artist. Regardless of your position, no matter how affluent you may be, no one can afford to lose his or her integrity. Even “natural talent” will degrade and weaken if not continually honed.
To add to this, your success is contingent on continual and repeated promotion, far more than anyone in this business has previously ever lead you to believe. Consider it your staple from this point forward. It’s up to you to drive attention to yourself through your very best promotional efforts. And with that thought in mind, as a rule: never set your sights on securing just one audition, or one big break, or waiting until the time is “just right.” If you do, you will secure only one audition, one break, and the “right” time will never arrive, because you never took the time to properly promote yourself. The time is right when you decide it is, so make that now. Make a decision as to what you want in your life and work toward those goals. In doing so, you’ll accomplish far more than you ever imagined possible.
Every audition is a form of promotion, yet so many artists repel the idea of promotion that this could easily account for the scores of talented souls who have fallen into oblivion. If you leave your career alone, I promise nothing will happen. It will slip through your fingers.
No one who has ever scored an Oscar accepted it saying, “This was so easy. I don’t know why you guys don’t all have one. It was a piece of cake!”
Nope. Yet, anything worthwhile is accomplished from hard work and lots of it. And a good deal of that work comes from consistent and constant promotion. Consider it as much of your job as the performance itself. This is how you make yourself known and familiar. Promotion comes with the territory regardless of the experience level, and can’t be ignored if you intend to succeed as a working talent.
From the moment you decide to commit completely to establish or further your career as the case may be, it will seem as if all the forces in the universe will set out to thwart you. Not because you shouldn’t be pursuing this field, but rather the complete and utter opposite. It’s an occupational hazard that will test your mettle at every turn. And while you may be a strong sprinter at the onset of your career, aim to go the distance. It’s far more rewarding if you do.
The fact remains that talent who persist at promotion, while honing their performance skills, will make themselves known and valuable. What you may lack performance-wise at the onset of your career will strengthen and develop from experience, rather than from a single coaching once a year, or with a single half-hearted promotional blitz once a year. Those who become consummate professionals make it their business to run their own careers rather than leave it to chance.
Make it your mission to continually promote yourself with demos and promotional materials that define you as a professional while maintaining your performance muscle, if you intend to go the distance. You’ll create a rich, rewarding career for yourself if you do.
Kate McClanaghan is a seasoned casting director, producer, coach, actress and founder of SOUND ADVICE, a unique, one-stop option for unparalleled voice over coaching, and exceptional demo production for talent of every skill and experience level. www.voiceoverinfo.com
Copyright © 2015 by Kate McClanaghan, All Rights Reserved.