Why voice actors do what we do

Today I got an email. It was simple, short, and sweet:

Dear Sam,

I like your radio show, I think it’s really funny. I want to host a radio show, too, because it seems like so much fun.

Yes, writer. It’s fun. it has its moments. There are times when I get bouts of laughter in my studio so hard I can’t breathe, and times when I sit with other voice actors (Like my roommate Chris) and go back and forth with crazy voices in little improvised skits over dinner while my girlfriend rolls her eyes from across the room.

But like any other job, it has its not-so-good moments, too. Like any other job which you love and cherish, it has its highs and its lows. Louis CK had been quoted several times before on the value of patience and hard work:

Sometimes voice actors have to, as Louis CK says,

Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.

A fantastic piece of advice for anyone at any stage, really. Some folks talk about the point at which they “made it”, but the reality is that it takes patience and constant hard work to get anywhere. Sometimes you have bursts of momentum, and sometimes it’s uphill.

For me, the decision to be a voice actor was a hard one and I can certainly say that at this point in my career I have not yet put by a penny. But if I might be so hipster as to quote A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, perhaps I’ve “put by more than money.” And yeah, I really do live for the moments when I have someone write me a letter, or ask me for a moment, because they appreciate something I do.

I know this probably seems a bit like a jumbled rant. The point, though, is that at this moment in my career I know that I’m gaining traction. I’m getting jobs that help upgrade my equipment. I get training from voice actors and I practice heavily. These are things anyone should do at any point in their career, to be honest. You have to, if you want to be competitive in a market where the microphone on a laptop and a blanket can get someone a Voice123 gig. But I sometimes get reminded about why I go through this, deal with the pain and hard work, spend my money on things, and sometimes exhaust myself in trying to reach out. I do it because sometimes, I can make an impression on someone. Sometimes I can bring a smile to a face.

One day I might end up a bigshot actor. Until then, I’m perfectly fine just giving it a minute.


Sam Swicegood is an author, speaker, blogger, and podcaster from Cincinnati, OH. He is the author of fantasy and science-fiction literature, including The Wizards on Walnut Street and No Place.

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