Public Service Announcement: No one knows what they’re doing.
No one even knows what they’re supposed to be doing. There isn’t an instruction manual. There are no rules. Everyone’s just making it up as they go along.
Sure, there are accepted routes and traditional paths, and those will probably work, but there’s no guarantee.
And that's okay. Well-trodden paths get that way because lots of people are treading them…which means it’s going to be hard for any single treader to stand out.
Take Mike Rowe for example. You know him – he’s the Dirty Jobs guy. But he’s also a prolific voice actor. And you know what got him a lot of his jobs? A joke. Not following the rules.
He was doing a mic check at the beginning of an audition once, and he read the script in a super-cheesy, over-the-top Cliché Voice Actor voice. He took every single What Not To Do and rolled them into his warm-up.
“I read the copy like every bad FM-DJ-meets-car-commercial [narrator] you've ever heard.”
Mike thought he was just talking to the sound engineer, but Hank Capshaw, the director, had already donned his headphones.
He loved it.
Mike laughed; Hank was obviously joking. He had to have been, because “that's not how a serious voiceover actor would bring copy like that to life. He would bring more pathos, more empathy, more emotion…blah blah blah.”
After the mic test, Mike recorded it for real. “I massage it, I caress it, I get it right,” he says.
Just like a serious voiceover actor would.
Hank Capshaw used the mic test. Then he hired Mike for a bunch of other shows - American Hotrod, Ghost Hunters, the UFC - and told him to use his unserious voiceover actor voice.
Comedian Jerrod Carmichael said, “Everyone’s looking for rules to follow, and the sooner you realize there aren’t any, the better art can be.”
He said art, but fill in the blank. The sooner you realize there aren’t any rules, the better you can be, no matter what you want to do.
Whether you want to be a data scientist, a marketer, an author, or an Elon, there’s no right way to do it. Just go out there and try some stuff.
See what works. See what doesn’t. Have fun. And don’t take everything so seriously.
Occasional emails from Megan
I promise not to spam you and I promise not to be boring.