I recently heard from one of my agents, someone who represents me in Chicago. We hadn’t had any contact in awhile, so I was checking in to see if we should “break up” or not. You know. Weeding.
What she said was both reaffirming and a wake-up reminder:
The reaffirming part: “You are an amazing talent. I was just on your website and it is incredible.” (Thank you!)
The wake-up call? : “In our market most all clients want to audition in person... They won’t accept taped auditions. I have had clients hear your voice and like it but want to record locally and not by distance.” (Aha!)
Jumping Up a Voice Over Level
There it is: Sometimes you’ve gotta live in the Big City if you wanna get work there. If you want to jump the level, like in a video game.
Honestly, I am really happy with my voice-over career so far. I have regular clients, new interest in my work every week, several agents, local/national/international clients – and, most importantly, I pay the bills doing what I love while also being there for my family, friends, and other passions of my life.
Pretty fortunate, right? You bet! Lucky enough that I love, like so many in this community, to share the skills and steps that keep me working with others. I love to mentor and coach, most recently at Voice 2012 and regularly for Edge Studio, teaching at levels from newbies to growing talents (we all coach each other, how awesome is that?)
Sure I can roll off my credits and clients with the best of ’em (will resist the urge to do it here…but, um, ?vo.randyekaye.com….) –
Still, I am not a VO Superstar. I am not the voice of Goofy like Bill
Farmer, or Porky Pig like Bob Bergen, or the Oscars, Emmy and Tony Awards like Randy Thomas. I don’t have the cash flow to start a foundation like Pat Fraley, or underwrite a Voice 2012 Garden Party like Joe Cipriano. You won’t hear me weekly on a cartoon series, or voicing a trailer in your movie theatre. Yet. But if you call 1-800-Priceline, or watch Fashion Star on NBC at the right 5 secinds, or fly Continental Airlines internationally —but I digress. Sorry. Occupational Hazard..
Bread ‘n’ Butter Voice Actors
Really – I am proud to be part of an equally awesome group of “Bread and Butter Voice Actors” – and that’s just fine by me. It’s the right choice for my life – and has been for quite some time.
Like the character actors whose work we enjoy yet can’t really recognize right away, Bread’n’Butter VO Actors are successful in a less obvious way.
- We work in non-major metropolitan areas, often from our home studios.
- Our major clients may be the local advertising agency that uses us all the time , or the e-learning company that hires us again just because they liked what we did before, or the national company that pegged us as the “voice of” their tutorials and explainer videos.
- We run our small businesses. We market our brand on the days we don’t have a booking. We take our kids to school and make it to their soccer games. Sometimes we take our lunch break in the gym just to see real people doing crunches in the same room. We send our auditions via e-mail to agents we have never met. We pay our mortgages and estimated taxes.
- We may not be famous, but we are good at what we do – and proud to have succeeded as voice talents while the rest of our lives continue to unfold. (As are the Superstars, who make it work too! )
The “Big Playgound”
At Voice 2012, I met a lot of the fabulous Voice Over Superstars – and they are deservedly admired! For many, the path to where they are began with the commitment to Los Angeles, New York, or another major center.
For me, that is the stumbling block I don’t want to remove. I have lived in Los Angeles, and chose to leave after a soul-search. The decision to return to Connecticut had followed a depressing conversation with a couple of bitter middle-aged LA actors who shall remain nameless – unless you buy me a glass of red wine the next time we meet.
I have lived in the Big Apple – in fact, I grew up there – and though I love to go in to NYC for bookings, I find I am not that often willing to go in for a 5-second audition. One of my agents is fine with that, as he does all auditioning via internet – but the other is not. That agency loves me because I have booked work – but they sigh in frustration every Friday when I send in my availability – usually so booked here in Connecticut that they can’t submit me for all the stuff they’d like to.
“The Big Playground“, where the VO Superstars play, is a field that still often requires in-person auditions, ?commuting, superstar competition, and trying to stay as available as possible every minute, “just in case.” The payoff? Totally worth it! But we all have life decisions to make, and for now I’m quite content with my “VO Bread ‘n’Butter” status.
Star, maybe – but not Superstar. Yet. I know what choices must be made to get to the Big Playground, and right now I’m having too much fun to make those changes. And that is just fine by me. Besides, I get to visit Big Playground once in awhile, and that’s a bonus.
So a big shout-out to the B&B VO Community – and the superstars too – and to my much-valued clients. This is, truly, an amazing business – and you make it that way. Thanks!
Derek Chappell says
Love this Randye! Thanks for sharing and paying homage’ to the ‘Bread & Butter’ VO.
Ron Whittemore says
Always informative and inspiring…thanks Randye! All my best to you!!
Randye Kaye says
you too! thx 🙂
randye, i met you briefly at voice2012, and i love this post! so true! jill melancon
Randye Kaye says
Laila Villa says
Randye, as always you are very inspiring and this article really spoke to me. I too dream of the “big jobs” but in retrospect, I am a mom of 4 (including 5 year old twins) so I need to be able to juggle work and being a “mom”. I’m very fortunate to have a hubby that works hard which allows me to work and play. I know one day they will be up and gone and I will be able to dedicate myself 100% to what I love doing which is being a voice over talent. Thanks for helping me see the light!!
Randye Kaye says
wow, laila! thanks for your reply – how did you find the time with 4 kids? 🙂
Marc Scott says
I’ve done voice work part time since 1995. My full time job has always been radio. Back in January just a few months after securing the radio gig I worked my whole career to get… I was downsized to prepare for an ownership change. Reality check!
I spent the next two months sitting on my couch contemplating my next move, all the while still plugging away at voice over. What I didn’t realize was that the answer was right in front of me. In the form of a microphone!
I’ll likely never be a VO Superstar, and I’m OK with that. But with some hard work and dedication I’ve slowly managed to turn my part time voice over career into a full time job and I’m loving every minute of it. I have freedom and flexibility no 40 hour/week job could ever offer me. Each day presents new opportunities, new challenges and new clients. And the best part… I’m my own boss and I’ve promised myself I’ll never downsize myself! 🙂
Now when people ask me what I do for a living, I just smile and reply I’m living the dream!
J. Christopher Dunn says
Genius! I get to play at what I do professionally and if that means bread and butter for now, no problem. 🙂
Thank you for the article!
CC Heim says
I love being a bread ‘n’ butter voice actor! It gives me tons of flexibility. Although I truly do LOVE what I do, I value even more so the flexibility for travel and other life experiences. Voice acting at my current level pays me a nice salary while affording me the freedom to not be chained to a 9-5.
Michael Collins says
Happy to be a working B&B VO! Give up the tranquility of the Adirondacks for the chaos of LA, NY, or Shytown? Um…couldn’t do it. Props to those who do, though. It “just ain’t me.” Great read, Randeye…thanks for taking the time to write it.
Randye Kaye says
Thanks for commenting, fellow vo b&b-ers!
We are living the dream of so many, and we know the work and joy involved. Our community adds to the joy!
roxanne coyne says
What a great article, Randye. You’ve expressed just how I feel about my own voice over work. I am really proud of the business I have built here and even more proud that I can do what I love and still take care of my kids and my husband.
I, too, could probably book more high profile work if I were willing to actually drive to Beverly Hills to audition in person at my dear agent’s office, but I have chosen not to do that. I choose instead to stay here and send my auditions by email and take care of my clients who entrust me every day with wonderful, challenging and varied projects.
It’s all about making choices that are appropriate to our lives.
This is an amazing field and I’m part of a truly wonderful community of people.