So, it’s a Friday night at the end of a busy week and as I sit here reflecting I wanted to share my thoughts with you all. This isn’t a satire piece, it’s not a rant about the state of the industry or that pesky certain $5 website it’s just something about my voiceover journey so far that I wanted to share with a community that I’ve come to respect and admire and maybe, just maybe this may serve as inspiration to someone else.
The reason for this reflection? Well in case you’ve been living in a black hole for the last few weeks (or don’t follow me on Twitter) I’m about to embark on a trip to LA which I have been waiting for since, well, since I was a kid.
Doing character voices and in particular animation was my absolute dream as a kid, right up until I was 16 or so. I idolised the likes of Hank Azaria and Dan Castellaneta and thought impressionists were some mystical beings with magical powers. My dream at that time was to move to LA, work on the most famous cartoons and movies in the world and drive my convertible up and down the coast road.
I wasn’t the smartest kid at school, wasn’t the stupidest, wasn’t the best looking or the ugliest but what I did have was unadulterated passion for performing. I’d do it whenever I got the chance, the corridors, in class, school plays, bands, musicals, everything. I was known in school as the guy who did silly voices and accents, it was and still is without a doubt what makes me, me.
So what happened that meant I’m not writing this blog entry sat on a balcony overlooking the Hollywood sign? Well, it was simple really, money! While I am a performer there is a side of me that is infinitely sensible and even at the tender age of 16 I was concerned with making choices that would lead to a stable income, choices that would keep a roof over my head, choices that would keep food on the table and ultimately choices that would put me on a path in the opposite direction of what would make me happy.
So I didn’t go to drama school, I didn’t take up acting, or musicals, I chose courses that would lead to a “sensible” life and ultimately a career in IT. Now don’t get me wrong, I like IT, I’m very good at what I do and the career that I had led to getting everything that one might consider ingredients for happiness. I had a nice car on the drive, a big house in a nice area, lots of gadgets and gizmo’s, but was I fulfilled, no.
This all struck me right after my wife and I moved into our “family” home, there I was, 28 and I’d achieved everything I’d wanted to when I was 16. I had a rock solid income, roof over my head and food on the table. Why then did I feel so unfulfilled?
The reason is obvious and simple, I was spending the majority of my hours in the day doing something that was, whilst interesting, not my love or my passion.
Thankfully (oh so thankfully) this was the moment of epiphany I had been needing for so many years. My wonderful wife sat me down one night and walked me through what was stopping me going for the voiceover career I’d wanted since I was a kid and when it boiled down to it there was nothing. I was imagining problems that didn’t exist, I was thinking of timelines that hadn’t happened yet and ultimately the fear of failure was in there as well.
Having it laid out so plainly in front of me reminded me of something I had also been adamant about since a teenager, I would not be someone that got to 65 years old, retires and looks back at their life wondering why they spent it doing something they didn’t enjoy. That mourns all the dreams they never pursued. I was determined that wouldn’t be me.
There was another major factor that kicked into gear here as well and that was my son. My son is now 18 months old and having him enter my life has been the most scary, daunting, nerve wracking and wonderful thing ever to have happened. Raising a child can make you ask so many questions of your own life and I don’t want him to grow up with a father that didn’t follow his dreams. I want to be a role model for him, I want to show him that no matter what people say, no matter what the financial implications are, go for your dreams. He is my inspiration.
So now here I am, a voiceover booth in my office, new equipment arriving imminently, coaching sessions ongoing with some of the best talent in the business (Nancy Wolfson and Richard Horvitz) and a trip to LA booked to record 3 new demo’s. I’ve done work for Marvel, Intel, Siemens, Santander, and 888 Poker, I’ve got my own cartoon series about to pilot, a successful YouTube channel and you know what, now I’m starting to feel fulfilled.
I hope the above may serve as inspiration to other people that, like me, were perhaps unhappy with what they were doing in life or just need to see that it can be done.
And so we come to the end of my reminiscing and look to the future instead. I have no idea where this path I’m on will lead me, I’ve no idea if LA and that convertible could still happen but I’d like to leave you with a final thought…
As soon as you take a single step on the path to where you want to be, you are a success. The only failure is to never step foot on the path.
All the best,