Voiceover and the Importance of Trust

- Tribe Interactive
Voice actor Tara Strong kicking Steve Blum in the face in a silly way

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We’re called upon to trust often in the voiceover business. Trust the process, trust that our teachers aren’t full of crap, trust that if we do the work, something will come of it. We need to Trust that we’ll be remembered when we’re great and not forgotten when we suck, and Trust that they will forget when we suck, but not forget us!

We also need to Trust that we’ve got a handle on the fear, so it won’t be in control when we get our shot. And how about Trusting that we will get a shot!

Let’s look at the definition of the word from Websters Dictionary:

trust |trəst|


firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

I know it can be tough to trust anyone these days. So with all of that swirling in our heads as we approach anything creative…

Whom do you trust? And how do you trust?

Well, that starts with you, boo. You can begin with trusting your own passion for the work, the months or years of study you’ve put in, and that you wouldn’t even BE in front of a director if they didn’t think you were worthy. In my Voiceover Teaching Series classes, we’ve discussed taking direction and cold reading (reading something you’ve never seen before out loud). It’s pretty clear in cold reading that you have to trust your director. The choices you make will be based on that.

The hardest part of all of this is remembering that you ARE worthy! Even when you’re by yourself, practicing your cold reading, it requires you to trust your instincts in fleshing out believable characters with no preparation.

Trust takes practice

People often lose trust when they feel betrayed by others. That’s a natural, and necessary protective human reflex. But what about when we let ourselves down? What happens when we have a chance at something and we blow it? Usually we start beating ourselves up and tearing ourselves down. This isn’t a protective reflex, it’s an unnecessary but very common breakdown of our trust in ourselves. It happens to all of us – even in voiceover.

When you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s an opportunity for a breakthrough.  You get back up, dust yourself off, and get your butt back to work. You also make sure you take the time to learn from the mistake.

Do what you need to do so this mistake doesn’t happen again. Then get back up with this new wisdom in your pocket. Just the fact that you GOT back up is a huge victory! If you can celebrate that you’ll be surprised at your ability to create something new and amazing from it.

A Story of how I learned to Trust

Here’s a little tale from the voiceover crypt for you. Many years ago, I read for the part of Goro for the Mortal Kombat movie. I did a great first audition, even making it to final callbacks. I had to read live for a panel of casting and studio people in an on-camera type, intimidating room where they sat in elevated chairs looking down at me and running me through the copy. I freaked out inside.

I still did a fair audition, but my inner turmoil turned into a big, dramatic huffing and puffing after the read, like I’d just lifted a car over my head. They mentioned that I probably wouldn’t be capable of sustaining the role for a whole film if one little audition made me that tired. I insisted I wasn’t tired, just invested in the role. I thanked them politely, then left devastated. I thought I’d just blown the biggest opportunity of my life.

The next day, I got back up. I busted through the continuous internal beatings, re-committed to my voiceover career, and auditioned for a little anime show. Certainly not the same level as this movie, but it made me feel a little better. I probably booked it, I don’t remember, what I do remember is that I kept moving forward.

Now, more than 20 years later, I get to voice Sub-Zero in the Mortal Kombat games. The full circle took a while, but apparently, I used some of that fuel from that mistake to build an entire voiceover career. I trusted myself enough to get back up and try again.

It takes time

As I was reading this story back just now, I realized I never found out who ended up booking that role, so I looked it up. It was my dear friend, the amazing Frank Welker. Pretty good company to even be in the running with, so early on in my voiceover career! They probably had an offer out to him the whole time and were just looking for a backup plan. If Frank had declined the role, I actually may have still been in the running. So all of that anguish… all of that self doubt… may have been completely unfounded anyway.

Believe in yourself first, guys. You’re capable of so much more than you can ever imagine. Fail magnificently, and trust that you can grow from it. I for one am excited to see what you bring to this party!

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4 thoughts on “Voiceover and the Importance of Trust”

  1. Trust is so hard especially those people that tend to abuse and take advantage of those that realky care.

    I’m also glad Steve that even though you didn’t get Goro that at least you eventually got to voice Sub-Zero. That good things come to those that wait and success pays off.

  2. Trust is hard for me, inside and out, since I’ve let myself down, and other people have let me down. And it’s natural to want to keep your hopes and trust buried 2,000 leagues under the sea after all these experiences. I hope to eventually regain the confidence I had in myself all those years ago as a kid, and hopefully improve my career as a result.

  3. trust for me is a bit tricky… ive been burnt so many times. coming from the music scene as an rnb singer songwriter, the transition to vo was as natural as it was exciting but my trust issues followed and after the 1st few months, i realized that the vo community didnt care what i look like, how old i am, what the color of my skin is etc, all the trappings of an rnb singer. I trust Steve to be straight with me, I trust Bob Bergens word of advice and I trust the people that i work with to do right by me. most of all, i trust the process, the process of doing the work, aquiring the skillset and developing it as often as possible. it can be hard to trust and i have trusted to a fault but if my trust isnt well founded, that karma falls on the one betraying the trust. i will always do what is required of me and put myself out there. i can only hope it is reciprocated but if it isnt, it cant sour me or define me.

  4. Trust is indeed difficult, but you are right, it starts with yourself. Thank you for sharing this. It seems voice acting takes a lot of self work and it is a wonderful thing to know, not only do you improve yourself but it improves your voice.


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