Curl up with a cozy blanket and a mug of tea, because I’ve got a story for you:
About 18 years ago, I was sitting in the lobby of a local studio waiting for my recording session to begin. I was hired to voice some commercials for a Las Vegas casino client. I arrived about 10 minutes early.
(Side note: It’s always a good idea if you’re recording in person for a live/directed session to get there a little early, but not too early. About ten minutes ahead of time should do it. Otherwise, it gets weird for the staff because they don’t have time to entertain you! If you can print your script(s) ahead of time–if they’ve emailed you in advance–make sure to do so and bring them with you. Also, it never hurts to bring a bottle of water, a pencil, and a piece of hard sour candy just in case your mouth goes dry! Never assume the studio will have everything you need–though most studios do! I just like to come prepared. I’m kind of a Girl Scout like that)
Anyway, I digress…While I was quietly reviewing my script and minding my own business, another VO talent stormed into the waiting room like a tornado. I could tell she’d been voice acting for a lot longer than me. I’d seen her around before and well, she was, let’s just say, beyond comfortable. No script, no water, and, judging by how she spoke and behaved, she carried herself with very little professionalism or gratitude.
“I can’t believe this client is only paying me $75 to voice this tag!” she blurted out loudly. “Well, ya know what, they’re not even gonna get $75 worth of effort from me during our session today! Where’s my script?! Ugh!”
Did I mention she was loud? Ummm…yeah. We’re in a recording studio, I thought. (Just sayin’!)
The worst part? She went on and on and on. I wasn’t the only voice actor there, and there were other clients nearby, too.
I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing! Her volume! Her attitude! Her rudeness! Her… well, everything!
I sat quietly, half-reading my script, making a few pencil markings of where I’d breathe or words I’d emphasize, all the while shocked at what I was seeing and hearing. I tried not to look up while she stomped down the hall to her session like an angry, heavy-footed elephant.
I was waiting for the engineer to come get me to guide me to the booth I’d be working in that day. The gal sitting at the front desk leaned toward me and whispered, “I’m afraid of her. She’s kind of a bully. No one likes working with her.” I just sort of politely half-nodded with the look of “yikes” all over my face. The front desk gal then said, “It’s just a one sentence tag… local market. The pay is correct for the type of project she’s doing.” I was still pretty new and learning how rates worked. And as I was about to say, “Oh, you don’t have to explain,” thankfully, at that moment, the engineer walked up to greet me to take me back to my session.
I said, “Well, it was good to see you again. I hope the rest of your day is easy breezy from here!” The receptionist smiled and went back to what she was doing. I then followed the engineer down the hall.
I never saw that voice actor again. And I used to go to this particular studio almost every day. (Makes you wonder if she was ever booked again, right?) I wonder how her session went! I never asked (It wasn’t my business).
What I learned that day…
Bad behavior = Being remembered for the wrong reasons. It’s simple: people like to work with people they like. People tend to not want to work with people they don’t like. If a studio is in the position to book a voice actor and one is kind and easy to work with while the other one is, well, a jerk…guess who will most likely get the gig?
The other thing that stood out to me –- that still floors me almost two decades later– was her bad attitude. Just because a job isn’t paying a huge dollar amount doesn’t mean you should give it any less effort. Always do your best. Care! Show ’em how talented and spirited you are. They chose YOU to voice their project. It means a lot to them.
Surprisingly, over the years some of my smallest paying jobs initially turned into regular, steady commercial work, that, in the long run, turned into (thankfully) lucrative, steady accounts. Appreciate ALL the work you book — no matter the dollar amount attached to it. You never know where it may lead you.
Being remembered for the right reasons? Priceless.
Also, remember those two magic words you learned when you were tiny? THANK YOU. Yep. They open doors. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way in the VO world, and, in case you haven’t noticed, in life.
Grace, kindness, gratitude, and a good old-fashioned smile never go out of style. (And even when you feel comfortable with the people hiring you… There’s comfortable and then there’s ‘business comfortable.’ Understand the difference.)
I wonder what ‘that girl’ is up to now? I wish her well, and am grateful for the abrupt business lesson she taught me all those years ago. Oh, and the ‘front desk girl?’ She eventually became the studio manager. How’s that for an ending?! (True story!)
Just remember, voicers: gratitude, first and foremost, always. (But I know YOU are always well behaved! Thanks for makin’ Mama VO proud!)