I spent some time recently in San Francisco with some of my students, and self-perception versus the perception of the casting director came up.
I listened carefully to the students’ answer to this question: “How do you figure out what the producer/writer/casting director wants, so you can give it to them?”
Right off the bat, that sounded like there were no right answers, because it was the wrong question to be asking.
And the answer to that very wrong question is very, very simple.
“You don’t figure it out. You don’t even consider it.”
Glad we dodged that bullet, right?
But what do you do instead? If you’re not going to wrack your brain being the best “Morgan Freeman-esque with an edge” VO announcer you can be, what do you do?
That is simple as well.
Just be you.
Don’t do anything but what you’d do anyway. Bring YOU to the party. Make sure YOU and your brand shines.
Even if you have to ignore that screaming voice in your brain to “FIGURE IT OUT! YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH! BE BETTER THAN YOU ARE!”
So, why are we so drawn to giving them something they want, rather than what we are?
That, too, is simple.
Because we don’t trust that what we are and what we show the world is enough.
And yet, it is.
But we insist on telling ourselves every day just how flawed we are, just how much we don’t have, we constantly remind ourselves of our shortcomings and on and on.
And we often do it directly to ourselves, via a simple device.
We get up, we complain about how we feel, about how we look, we pick at our faces, we apologize for morning voice, we put on clothes we complain should fit better, we put on makeup and creams and product to make our bodies “better.” And that’s just in the first 45 minutes or so.
Then we get an audition or twelve, and instead of instantly going to “I got this. Let’s do it,” we assume that once again, we don’t have what we need, we’re not skilled enough, some celebrity’s going to do better at this than we are, the casting director isn’t going to hear what s/he put in the breakdown when s/he listens to the audition, and so much more.
We literally talk ourselves out of the competition.
Why? Because we’re not selfish enough.
I don’t mean the hoarding, exclusionary type of selfishness.
I mean the absolutely essential selfishness of owning your talent, your brand and your potential.
Don’t ever give that away. If not for you, then for the people you work with, audition for and perform with. They are counting on you to be the way they see you, not how you see you.
More on that in a moment.
When I work with VO clients, in class or in private sessions, I feel like I spend a fair amount of my time giving those clients complete carte blanche to be awesome and successful. I find myself saying, “Give yourself a break. Go for that strong choice you really want me to hear. Give yourself the permission to be spectacular.”
I get that is hard for some people to hear, because it’s not the way we’re programmed. From birth, we compete for attention, then are told to mind our manners. There’s value in being polite, but “mind your manners” sometimes becomes “don’t show everything lest you be told to be quiet.”
Don’t hold back. Give me YOU. Give your cast mates when you’re on set or in studio or on stage YOU. Not what you think they want, or what you think the CD wants or what you think the director wants. You.
You might be surprised to learn that in almost every case you can imagine, you see yourself completely different than do others. And by “different,” I mean “less than.” Friends, family, castmates, audition partners, agents, CDs, and even me. We look at you as a glass 5/6ths full, as opposed to something close to empty.
Here’s a great video I want you to take 2 1/2 minutes to watch. At about the 2:17 mark, just near the end, you’ll get a piece of wisdom you can take to the bank of life. Then, come back here for some final thoughts.
Watched it? Great.
Is that you? The one downing themselves, being self-depricating, calling out faults, minimizing the good? Was it surprising to you to see that even the strangers on the other side of the mirror are rooting for you, see you in a great light, and notice your strengths? Can you imagine for a moment how the people who care about you look at you?
I’m going to ask you to ignore the voice that you sometimes hear calling out to you when you look in the mirror. And I’m going to ask you to be selfish.
Everywhere. Especially in front of a microphone.
And I’m asking you to give yourself a break, go for that strong choice, and give yourself permission to be spectacular.
If you do that, I can help you even more.
If you would, share with me what kind of conversation you’ve been having with yourself in the comments below. And give me some idea of how you’re going to change that if change is needed.
Hope this helps.