Voiceovers: From Darkness to Dawn
It's been a long time coming
It’s been 26 years. But has it, really? Ultimately, I’ve done voiceovers for a really, really long time. I mean, a really long time. I’ve done them since 1993…but I have done them in a more concentrated sense since 2007. And then, I went full-time with them in 2016. Have I ever looked back? Yes. But only to see how far I’ve come.
And when I talk about far, I’m not talking about length. I’m talking about experientially. Existentially. It’s not about chronology. It’s about therapy.
Let me take you on a journey. I’m fixin’ to get all psychological on ya’ll.
This Voiceover Artist was always a Gregarious Soul
What does gregarious mean to you? To me, it means boisterous, self-assured, fun-loving, dramatic, open-handed, exuberant, and pursuing joy. Ultimately, that’s who I’ve always been as a person, even when the chips were down. I’ve always wanted to see the positive, to pursue hope even when there wasn’t even a sliver of it to be found. I still wanted to pursue it.
Has my life ever ebbed to the low, low depths of despair? The answer of course is yes, otherwise, this blog post would most certainly suck. I mean it when I say that there have been times in my life where I’ve been despondent to the point of suicidal ideation, especially during my teenage years. I’ve flirted with moving past this flesh and this mind and this bondage, to be free of it all. But what then? Would that really be the end? Would that be true freedom? Or would it really have been just trading bondage for bondage, forever slave to the knowledge that I had been beaten? I think the answer is clear. I would have taken the way out and robbed my future self of countless victories. I don’t write any of this to shame or put down anyone who has committed suicide: I have a few friends in my life that have been deeply impacted by suicide and I am thus deeply respectful of it. There is always more to the story than meets the eye. And I too have on the periphery of it, during periods of angst in my life.
Gregariousness can have its costs. It is sometimes attributed to people like Robin Williams…and we know, tragically, what happened. All seems well on the outside, but on the inside, he was crumbling. Ultimately, I know now who I am, but there was a time in my teenage years where I didn’t, and I sought relief.
Sometimes I sought relief through acting…through drama…through performance. I could easily slip on a role and hide…perform my way through the pain. So I think I can relate all too well to the performers of yesteryear - and today – that are struggling with such loneliness. I wanted to work through it, desperately…the self-consciousness, the self-loathing, the feelings of inadequacy, etc.. But I found that I just went stir-crazy inside myself, and the only real way I could cope was to perform. To put on a happy face. Do you know the song "Smile"? I hate that song. I truly hate it, with every fiber of my being and the fire of a thousand suns. I hate it. It’s a pretentious and hollow song. It avoids dealing with the real. I love when Wesley says to Buttercup in The Princess Bride, “Life is pain, highness – anyone who says differently is selling something.” It's not about pretending that all is well, when all is in fact not well at all.
Going into hiding
I conquered. I stayed alive. I moseyed on through life, joyfully, working through my pain, relying on others, living, breathing, conquering, learning. We all do. I achieved, I pursued, I attained, I grew. And always, always, as sunset follows sunrise, there are challenges that bring us back down into the depths, and test our metal. I too have had my share. Here’s where I’m going to get painfully vulnerable, to the extent that I can.
My wife and I went through an excruciating ordeal in 2013 that lasted several years. It nearly tore us apart. We were haunted by extreme difficulty – I won’t say what it was because it was deeply personal and private to us as a couple. The pain has talons to this day, and we remember it well, with tears and sighs. It cost us peace…it robbed us of sanctity, it harmed our sense of well-being. We lost trust in people, we became skeptical, we yearned for justice.
In the crucible of fire, testing and pain, after two long years, in 2015 we finally found some form of relief. We found intervention by someone who helped us. I realize I’m being intentionally vague and ambiguous, but there's a reason for the nebulous details, and it's deeply personal. The someone helped us, and slowly we began to heal.
But then, not six months later, The Pain was back. It came in different forms of attack, and, this time, sadly, we retreated.
The gregarious soul, and his wife, went into hiding. We retreated from public view and really from the world, for a while, as we closed ranks and dealt with what was harming us…as we tried to heal. It was:
- an excruciating time, as we were constantly on defense, and trying to mitigate pain that we could not control.
- a time of loneliness…and sadly, it was right around when our first child was born. What should have been a time of great rejoicing became a time of stress, endless tears and frustrations one after another, and pinning our hopes on eventual deliverance. We lived in the shadows, with curtains drawn and in hiding. We were really hurting, my wife and I. In the midst of singing lullabies to our son, we were crying from The Pain.
- a time of hard growth
- a time of questioning God
And through that entire time, my gregarious soul was being erased, as its light was being extinguished in the dark. I weep as I write this, because I remember. We walled ourselves off from social contact as we dealt with what was harming us from within.
I think every human being has a breaking point, however, no matter with how much emphasis they pound their fist and say “I can’t do it.” Eventually, something snaps and they decide enough is enough. That point finally came for me in early 2017, and I truly had had enough. I was tired of living in the dark. I was not being true to myself. We were depriving ourselves of the world, and more importantly, depriving the world of us. I threw open the shades. We let the light stream in. I’m reminded of Gandalf bringing Theoden back to life. It truly was necessary, and we desperately needed it. I was time for a new dawn.
A Voiceover Artist is re-born
Also right around that time, a dear friend of mine, Paul Racey, had encouraged me to go into voiceovers full time. I had done it for years as part of video production services, and it had it roots, as I’ve said, back in 1993; but I never thought of pursuing it as a service unto itself until then. I decided it was time. We needed to make more money at the time anyway, since my wife was now a stay-at-home mommy. So I was really earnestly looking for something to pad the pocketbook – and the answer was right under my nose all along.
Seemingly coincidentally, I was asked to be a Sunday morning host at our church. Clarifying the role for me, my pastor told me that I would be welcoming our church into the sanctuary with announcements, jokes, humor, whatever, to really energize the crowd. I didn’t have a pair of pom-poms, nor was I the “Rah Rah here we go” type that he sought, but there desperately was a need, and I thought this might just further help me get out of the dark cloud that we’d been living under. After all, earlier, my Pastor had told me that “it’s not in your nature to run.” Those words were life-giving and affirming, and I needed them.
So I bravely stepped forward. I began hosting, and quickly became the church’s favorite Sunday morning host in a rotation of four people. I started doing it more frequently, and I genuinely began to look at it as a veritable ministry: it was my rich calling to welcome people into worship, to cheer on the body of Christ, and to stir them to praise. I loved that time. It was genuinely freeing. It helped me to open up, to be more…gregarious. To re-develop my confidence and to reclaim my calling to put myself out there for people. It was tremendously liberating to take on that mantle of ministry each week, and to usher God’s people into worship. Coupling that with entertaining them, it was one of the greatest times of awakening in my life.
Concurrently, my voiceover business had taken off. Being non-union, it was easy for me to start off with some pay-to-play online marketplaces. I truly enjoyed getting on there and auditioning all the time. I loved – and still do to this day, with all my heart – being chosen. It is the way I measure my success for that week: How many times have I been chosen. My pastor once said, “to be unchosen is a terrible thing.” The opposite is resoundingly true. To be chosen, is a wonderful thing. And with voiceovers, I get chosen a lot. I had the skill all along, nurtured back in 1993 and constantly developed over the years, then perfected in self-employment since 2007.
This Voiceover Artist – Let the Lion run free
I can’t tell you what voiceovers truly mean to me. It is simply impossible to sum it up in words. It is the perfect business for me, because it couples all of my management skills, my administrative skills, my business acumen, my marketing prowess, my humor, my vocal delivery skills, my teaching abilities, and my love for performing, all wrapped up in a beautiful bow. It has truly become the most satisfying endeavor I’ve ever pursued…save my marriage and my family. It allows me to be free. It allows me to perform, to entertain, to represent and speak for someone, to bring words to life, to network, to encourage and affirm, to uplift, and to be the person I was created to be.
I have been self-employed since 2007, but that wasn't always in voiceovers. Nevertheless, it was always mine. No one could take it away from me. But now, with voiceovers, it's something that I would fight tooth and nail, to the death, were anyone to try and wrest control away from me. It's my very heartbeat, my joy, my delight.
Every morning this voiceover artist gets up and has a devotional and prays to the Lord. I pray for Him to have His way in my life. As it pertains to voiceovers, I pray that He would bless me indeed, that He would turn these auditions into jobs, that He would allow me to connect with the ears, minds and hearts of my listeners. That is truly what I pray. I want to honor God with my business, and I want Him to bless it.
Voiceovers aren’t for everyone, to be sure. You can have a great voice and, frankly, suck at marketing and business operation. Or, you can be an excellent businessperson raking in the dough, but not be able to sound like you’re not reading. You must have both.
I have both. And for that, I’m extraordinarily grateful. In my last blog I talked about “makeup” – and as they say, hindsight is 20/20. I can look back at my life, and the painful experiences I’ve had, and see how I was always, always destined to be a voiceover artist entrepreneur. I was made for this. This is truly my calling. I’ve pursued other endeavors, yes, but nothing even a tenth as fulfilling as this. I know who I am. And I know who I was made.
So you see? Voiceovers were exactly what I needed, and they were right under my nose all along. They were the craft, the art form, the pursuit, the delight, and the end goal I had always needed to allow me to emerge into the light again. I yearned for something to crack me open and say "come out, it's safe." I found it.
They say, “find what you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I LOVE what I do. I love networking with other voiceover colleagues. I love teaching. I love performing. I love sharing and encouraging. I love it. I Love it. I LOVE it. More than anything I’ve ever done, I love it. And I’m so very grateful. It's actually liberating me from other lines of work that have been, or have become, far less meaningful: lines of work that were once my passion...but never to the same extent.
This is my story. This is my testimony of what voiceovers mean to me, and why they mean so much. They have enabled me to breathe the free air again. They've enabled me to breathe deeply and delight in what I do. This is me, emerging from the darkness, and springing into the dawn with purpose and clarity of vision. I am alive.
Thank you so much for reading this.
Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Talent for hire
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