"Hi, my name is Joseph, and I am a voice actor."
Some might say that the previous statement is somewhat presumptuous. After all, I don't have a degree in communications or an official certificate hanging on my wall. I've never worked in radio. I have never been hired to record a single commercial or narration. I don't even have a demo to play for you (yet).
So how can I claim to be a voice actor? I recall reading some advice from a veteran voice actor to VO newbies like me. The point was essentially this: don't wait until you finally get a demo made, or get that first gig, or get your home studio put together, or whatever other benchmark you can think of. Being a voice actor is, at least in the beginning, is more a state of mind than a state of work. Someone who seriously pursues becoming a voice actor becomes one when the choice is made and the action begins.
Case is point: I have thought about getting into voice overs for years. My father was in radio when I was young, and continued to occasionally get some work as a voice over artist while I was young even after his primary career changed to a different field. Consequently, I have been fascinated with radio. I don't know how many times over the years I was alternately teased about or received compliments on my "announcer voice." So I knew I had some inherent talent.
I also have a strong background in performance art. I studied classical voice performance and theater in college, earned a degree in music, and have nearly 20 years of amateur stage experience and more than five years as a semi-professional classical vocalist. This has confirmed that I most likely have the talent and skills necessary to be successful in the field.
And so I found myself, now in my mid-30's, thinking how much I would really like to get into doing voice over work. Not actually doing anything about it, mind you, other than occasionally asking people I encountered from local radio stations about it. Just thinking and dreaming.
I was NOT a voice actor.
Last fall I decided that if I was really serious about this dream, I ought to put some serious work into investigating the field, so I signed up to take an introductory class on voice acting at a local community college. I started doing a lot of research online about how to become a voice actor. I even started profiles on several voice over community websites.
I attended that introductory class on October 23, 2008, and it really confirmed my interest both my interest and my belief that I could be successful. By this time I was seriously thinking about spending some money on getting some training with a voice coach and had begun looking at several programs. I was sure that I had what it took... I just wasn't sure I had the money yet to get started. Someday though... someday very soon.
But I was still not a voice actor.
That all changed on the afternoon of Oct. 28, 2008. I didn't realize it for a few more weeks, but that was the moment when I transitioned from being an aspiring voice actor to an actual voice actor. I still hadn't taken any classes, I hadn't gained any sudden experience or education, and I certainly hadn't gotten any work in the field. So what was the difference?
I made a simple choice, and more importantly, I took action on the choice. I wasn't just going to think or dream about being a voice actor, or take a few classes to make sure if I really had what it took. I simply decided I was going to become a voice actor, and so I became one.
The particular action I took involved in making a substantial financial investment in a voice coaching and demo production program. That was the first step in a very exciting journey that I have now been on for a little over four months. But it was the fact that I stopped dreaming and started doing that really changed what I was.
As I mentioned above, it took me some time to realize that it was this moment that was the catalyst of change in my status. And that status can change again as soon as I stop acting on my choice. But until--and only if--that happens, I will be a voice actor.