Why my Acting Background is my Best Friend
On this week’s edition of Aria’s Voice, we’ve had some shiny new networking, coaching, and auditioning opportunities, which, in my book, is a perfect week in the world of VO!
I had the pleasure of hopping on Clubhouse* with ACM’s own Co-Founder Marc Guss and Melanie Thomas, Talent Manager and Director of Animation and Video Games.
I discovered this event through LinkedIn, which in my short experience, is proving to be the mecca of where most VO talent and industry professionals like to hang out, market, and network.
I won’t lie, when the LinkedIn Connection request hit my inbox from Marc, I may or may not have done a little happy dance in my living room to the tune of a rockin’ new single that came out this week by singer song-writer, All Things Brielle.
Two words: Women. Power. Hell. Yes.
Okay, that was four words. Worth it.
I’m newer to having an active presence on LinkedIn, so when established industry professionals notice your profile and want to connect with you, it can prove to be a very exciting moment!
And BONUS, during the Clubhouse session I discovered a strong presence of the Orange Mafia* in the house!
The Clubhouse session was by far the most insightful and educational opportunity I’ve had on that platform. I’ve attended a handful of Clubhouse events where talent and engineers will generously give their time to offer words of wisdom and direct you to all the right places for coaching, gear, technical help, you name it.
What Marc and Melanie offered this past week was truly revolutionary for a free platform; hearing reads from all levels of talent non-exclusively, wall-to-wall, AND, offering game-changing feedback for each and every VOA. All you had to do was show up, hit that magic “Raise Hand” button, and voila!
Not only was I grateful for the invaluable feedback on my read, but I was thrilled to connect with other talent and weave the web on the holy trifecta of social media platforms. It helped me A.) Build my network B.) Make friends! C.) Experience some jaw-dropping power-house talent absolutely slay their reads and D.) Observe how others are taking on industry marketing trends in their websites, social media posts, and even in their reads!
Bottom-line, these events are always wonderful opportunities to showcase your voice and acting ability. I personally view any event, whether it involves reading copy or not, as an audition opportunity. You never know when someone will remember your voice, your acting skills, your level of professionalism, and your ability to turn around feedback, even if it may seem like a casual Zoom call, coffee meet-up, or Clubhouse session!
Where does my acting background fall in all of this?
In every. Single. Aspect. Personal, and work-related! (I honestly hate the phrase work-related in this context, because anything VO feels quite the opposite to me, and more like I’m gallivanting in a field with other happy VO ponies on a daily basis).
I began training at the age of two, with my first break-out starring role as a mouse in Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s, Cinderella at my old stomping grounds, Pennsylvania Youth Theatre. I trained as a singer, actor, and dancer there for twelve years. High school came around soon enough, and I was admitted as a theatre major to the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, where we studied at a collegiate level for the duration of our high school years.
At LVPA, we studied Voice and Movement extensively. As young actors, we dug into several famous and documented techniques, all of which centered around the fundamentals of character objectives, the super-objective, tactics, and obstacles in the world of the play. I distinctly remember our entire class dreading the monthly equivalent of a book report throughout our years, where the assignment required a detailed summary and analysis of the assigned play.
I would never change that assignment for the world; it’s like being told to eat your vegetables as a kid, and then as an adult, realizing your mom was right after all those torturous years of peas and Brussel sprouts.
No genre, dialect, or time period was off the table; I found myself becoming a spunky Irish teen in the 1970s, a member of Dionysus’ Bacchae, and my personal favorite, a sex-crazed narcissist in seventeenth-century France (you guessed it, Moliere) among many other character studies and performances.
For my LVPA audition, we had an improv session as a group of shaky, nervous 14-year-old prospective students. I mention this because the number one recommended form of acting training you will receive as a VOA is improvisation. Any piece of advice regarding acting I’ve heard from coaches and experienced talent alike is that improv will greatly aid you in several avenues. When I was inquiring over coaching several months ago, a one Everett Oliver asked me, “When was the last improv class you had?”
Improv helped me to make strong, believable, character choices on the turn of a dime when time was of the essence and trained me to be quick on my feet and confident in my decisions in the room, with the goal to end each beat of copy with a plethora of choices - avenues that only served to strengthen the character and build the story, “the moment before.”
You may be thinking, well this is great for character work, but do I really need this for work in commercial, eLearning, or narration?
From my small experience, yes. I find myself stepping into a character whether or not I’m reading for animation, dramas, or a commercial. It may be the girl next door, the casual millennial, or the Scandinavian Goose Queen of the NetherRealm. With any role or potential project, I walk through the fundamentals of what I learned in high school and would go on to fortify throughout college.
Acting training is vital to this art form. Not to mention, it’s an absolute blast??? The real question, is why wouldn’t you want to spend your day stepping into the world of characters, with the occasional healthy dose of Zip-Zap-Zop*?
I’ll catch you next week, VO army! I hope you all have a week for the books!
*Clubhouse: Yet another, new, social media platform. It’s basically an audio-only live speaker panel on repeat!
*Orange Mafia: The term of endearment for Syracuse University’s vast and expansive alumni network.
*Zip-Zap-Zop: If you know, you know.