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What Do You Mean, You Don't Love Tech? Finish Your Vegetables!

Hi Emmett,
My name is Julie. I’m a member of [online group]. I don’t speak up, because I’m pretty much a beginner and I’m afraid of getting piled on for asking the wrong question. I don’t feel like people are always very welcoming, but I’ve read a lot of your posts, and you, I don’t know, have a certain way of putting things that isn’t mean, even when it’s not nice. 
Anyways, I saw a topic recently where somebody mentioned ‘microphone fetishism,’ or something like that. You commented, but I had more questions. I was too scared to speak up. I hope it’s alright that I’ve contacted you privately. Here goes…am I doing it wrong by just wanting to act? I don’t really want to learn all that technical jargon and I’m not into the equipment much. Is that going to keep me from getting ahead? Please go easy on me!


Hey Julie,

Thanks so much for reaching out. I’m legitimately very flattered you felt comfortable enough to send this message. I’m not always soft with my words, but I try to learn from people like Carin Gilfry. If you don’t know Carin, get to know her. She is one of the most important people in our industry, and her level head is something we should all aspire towards. In fact, I’m probably going to post this to my Q&A on my website, with your permission, so let me slide in a couple plugs. The VO Breakfast Show is a podcast hosted by Carin and my pal, Jamie Muffett (someone else who is good to know). Lots and lots of good info there, on a variety of topics. Also, VOcation, which is geared toward a better understanding of the business side of things, and is put together by Jamie and Carin. It’s good to know good people. Even though they don’t know you, they’re already in your corner, and want to see you succeed. So do I.

That leads me to the next point: the social media groups. A lot of what you see, is frustration because a newcomer hasn’t bothered to spend two minutes on Google, or five minutes searching the group. It’s hard not to take it personally, when someone is asking professionals for easily-found answers. But most of those who frequently dispense advice in those groups, are doing so because they care, and they do want newcomers to succeed. But the ugly reality is that success is hard. To be taken seriously, newcomers should present serious questions. As a whole, it’s a pretty welcoming community. Somewhere on my website, you’ll see the words, “When one of us wins, we all win.” I’m not the only one who thinks like that — not by a long shot.

Without getting off on too much of a tangent, many newcomers also give off the perception that working in voiceover is easy, and they treat anyone who says otherwise, as the enemy. It can feel insulting, when someone with no experience, devalues the skill and talent required for the job. And there’s a big difference between not understanding, and refusing to understand.

I hope you’ll continue to hang around those groups. There’s a lot to learn there, and your attitude doesn’t strike me as something that would ruffle any feathers.

As I’ve been writing thus far, I’ve been thinking about your original question. No one has ever asked me that, in such a direct way. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ve had to give my answer some real consideration.

Let me start with the bad news first. You’re going to have to learn some technical jargon, and you’re going to probably have to learn a little more than you want to know about audio engineering. The good news? You don’t have to fall in love with that part. You don’t have to fuss over mics, preamps, and DAWs, as some of us choose to do. You need a good sounding space, a good mic, a good interface, a DAW that works for you, and enough knowledge to use it. 

It’s a good, healthy thing to just want to act. You’re a voice actor, right? That’s the real job. But with any job, there will be parts you just don’t like very much. You have to eat your vegetables, so you can have dessert later. I said something about eating vegetables elsewhere, and someone told me they like eating vegetables. People in our industry have issues. But for the sake of this, I'm going to assume everyone likes dessert and doesn't like vegetables. Because that's the way the world should be. It sounds like, for you, your vegetables are the technical side. For me, my broccoli is self-marketing. Like, I feel really awkward telling you that you should buy my book. But you should, because it will help you. If nothing else, it has a fantastic glossary, which has all that technical jargon. It also has a lot of answers to questions you may run into. And it’s a small investment. But it’s still hard for me to recommend you purchase it. The point is, I just did it anyway. And you should take that advice, and learn as much as you can. If you need more help, hire me, and I’ll go in-depth with you, so you can be stronger on that side of things. 

Back to those social media groups, use them too. Read all of the posts. Don’t feel like you have to dive in and love them, but find out what people are talking about. The most important part is the acting. But the technical side will help give you the ability to do more acting. Once you learn it, it will become second-nature. And once you aren’t worried about it, and you know it’s good, acting can become the whole job.

I hope that sends you down the right path, and I hope you really give it everything you’ve got. I’d love for you to check in with me in about a year, and tell me you’re booking work like crazy. Do keep in touch. I’ll help however I can. 


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25 mar

Learning is the beginning of wealth,

Learning is the beginning of health,

Learning is the beginning of spirituality.

Searching and learning is where the miracle process begins.

-- Albert Einstein

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