This Holiday Season, Thank Your
Family; Understand Their Feelings
By Deb Munro
Voice Actor & Coach
November 30, 2010
In light of the upcoming holiday season, it's fitting to consider how your voice over career affects your family.
I was recently coaching a voice session with a student who seems to be an amazing dad. He's very devoted and spends all his attention and time on his family.
I donít know if heís a stay-at-home dad, but he loves them all very much.
What his family may not realize, however, is how much he loves voicing as well.
Heís new to the industry and just beginning his journey. But from our recent sessions I can already tell heís going to have a long journey because of his family challenges.
When we work together, he is watching his kids at the same time.
He likes to have our sessions when his wife is at work because sheís not a big fan about a grown man trying to become a voice talent Ė itís not exactly the breadwinner job Ė and if it is, it takes a long time to get there.
Who could blame her?
TOUGH CAREER CHANGE
More than likely, this beginner was working before and now finds himself in a career change - which I see all too often these days - very late in the game.
And that can be discouraging.
This is a dilemma that most voice talent can faced on a regular basis.
WHAT OTHERS THINK
Many people donít understand our industry. But have you ever stopped to consider what they see?
Let's take a look from the other side of the picture. Perhaps this will help you to understand your family as much as they need to understand you.
I know this first-hand, because truth be told, my family split up in big part because of my career - or perhaps, even, my success.
I was married for 17 years and had always made it clear that I was going to work in the entertainment industry (as Canadaís Oprah, and that goal hasnít changed one bit).
But when I met my now ex-husband, I was not in the industry. In fact I became an OCD house mom. I sew, bake, cook, clean, scrapbook, babysit, craft, you name it.
So in fairness, that is what my husband thought he was getting into.
He didnít pay attention to all my theatre activities and the commercials I was voicing, or to my taking over the announcements at my local Wal-Mart where I was a Customer Service Manager.
GONNA MAKE MONEY?
Long story short: when I got my voice over home studio, he said,
ďWell, are you going to make a bit of money with this THING (my studio)?Ē
He really thought that voice overs would just produce a side income.
What he didnít bargain for was a full-time job that consumes my mind nearly every moment of every day. Or that I was going to love what I do and get excited to do it each and every morning.
LESS FAMILY TIME
I went from having tons of time for everyone in my family, to having to fit them into my work schedule.
I know that sounds awful, but my kids are now grown, and I worked hard at being a good mom. I already have grandkids! So Iíve taken time for me later in life (and I started young, so that helps, too).
We went from family camping holidays to camping with my studio. From holidays in Mexico to having a studio in the room.
PAYS MY BILLS
Now I can justify it, but what doesnít change is the fact that this industry affects my entire family.
I know it is my choice to work for a couple of hours on my holidays - and not all talent will make this choice - but I truly believe I am replaceable and that I need to make myself accessible to my clients or risk losing all those prior years of work.
Voice over pays my bills, and I donít get paid holidays.
CAN'T SAY NO
My ex had a really hard time grasping the fact that I couldnít just ignore emails for a week or two (well when you get 200 a day, that is just not a pleasant thing to come home to).
Nor could he understand that I couldnít just say "no" to my clients. (My ex got paid holidays.)
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
Again, I can justify this, but thatís not solution oriented.
It is important that we understand what our family sees and feels so that we donít lose sight of the big picture - or worse, lose our families.
I can still maintain my work the way I want to, but I need to make sure Iím not neglecting anyone in the process.
SO I'VE CHANGED ...
I've had to learn to shut work down when my daughters come home from school or work, and then I pick it right back up again when they go to bed.
I have had to learn to not work on the computer or emails when Iím talking to them about anything that is important to them.
I have had to learn that itís really hard for our families to watch us get excited for auditions that can consistently fall through. Or to see us get excited about a job that doesnít pan out.
TOUGH TO WATCH
If they care anything about you, this is painful to watch as they see you go from excited to a total let-down or depression.
All the while, you pretend it doesnít bother you.
Letís face it, our family consistently watches our let-downs and our successes, but because we will get more noís than yesís, they see our let-downs more than our celebrations.
Itís hard for them to see our disappointments, so the times when we do hit success donít stand out as much.
Nor is it easy for our families - especially when we are the breadwinners - to not know our income from one month to the next, or to deal with our stresses if weíre not able to find enough work.
This happens to many people.
MAYBE JEALOUSY, TOO
There is another factor to consider, and my ex was a great example.
I truly believe he was jealous that I was doing something that I absolutely loved, and that he was working what he called ďa real job.Ē This made him very insecure.
Either jealous of my time or jealous that he wasnít doing what he loved - it was his choice, but hard on him none the less.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Perhaps this holiday season is the time for us to thank our families for allowing us to be who we are.
For supporting us - or trying to - when it must be very hard to do.
For allowing us to follow our passion and our dreams.
For being there when we need them most.
For trusting in our talents.
If your family supports you in your craft, consider yourself blessed and spend some time with them this holiday season to tell them so.
On the other hand, if you are struggling to get emotional and financial support from your family, realize that you are not alone.
Communicate with your family to let them know what it is that makes you want this so much.
Stay committed, and show them why you are worth it - but that success will take serious dedication.
WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU?
They may not understand, but hopefully if you take the initiative to understand why they are so concerned about you following your dreams, maybe they can be more open to follow them with you.
Voice over is not an easy career. It can take a long time to achieve a substantial wage.
But if you stay consistent and persist and love what you do, the money will follow, and success and support will find their way to you.
Do what is right for you, but keep those around you in mind and find the balance to keep everyone happy. There is always a way.
OUR HOLIDAY GREETING
I hope you have an incredible holiday season!
Please CLICK HERE for an mp3 holiday greeting that my family and I created with Brent Halfyard - voice talent and engineer - for the 2010 Holiday Magic CD put together by Jeff Gelder of Gelderhead Productions and Edge Studio's David Goldberg.
We were honored to be chosen to be first on the CD, which is distributed to children in hospitals during the holiday.
Also, join this Facebook group and order a copy of the Holiday Magic CD. It's such an incredible cause:
From my family to yours, all our best for a wonderful holiday season!
ABOUT DEB ...
Deb Munro is a leading voice talent, coach, and owner of Chanti Productions, in the Vancouver, B.C., Canada area. She offers private voice over coaching by phone and Skype, and MIC 'N ME workshops on voice acting, business and demo prep in many Canadian cities.