I am a solitary type.
Yes, I have a partner. Yes, I have friends. Yes, I enjoy the occasional party or social outing. Yes, I’m an actor, which means being around, or performing for, a lot of people.
But mainly, I’m a solitary type.
At the end of the day (and sometimes at the beginning and middle of the day) I love having my alone time. My quiet time. Time to and with myself. I could play armchair psychologist as to why this is true (the ‘only child’ theory quickly comes to mind), but that’s of little consequence. Let it be simply said and known that I am often-times, contrary to how some may perceive me, a bit of a hermit.
Hence, I was very reluctant to ever actively take on any sort of Voiceover Mentor or Guru. But ‘facts is facts’, and as I’ve started to take myself more seriously as a Sole Proprietor, Independent Talent, Freelance Artist, or whatever frilly adjective-noun combination you’d like to name it, I’ve come to the humble realization that I can’t go it solely alone, and that I would have to choose somebody from which to learn the “secrets”, the “tricks of the trade”, and basic “tips” to get me from one plane of Voiceover existence to the next. Yes, I would need a mentor, or mentors.
That’s a rather long introductory bit for a blog entry that really is only coming into existence because I want to share with those who follow me, or look to me for any kind of guidance, those who have helped and are helping me on my path. These are my giants, my VO heroes, the people who have not only shone a light on the path, but have quite literally (if only in virtual format) handed me the tools with which to ply my craft.
Before I go on to list and link these folks, I want to say that I believe it is to everybody’s advantage in life, no matter your pursuit, to find a person or persons to take on as a mentor. A guide. Call it what you will, but no matter how fiercely independent of spirit you are (and believe me, I am) you NEED help. It’s not weakness, and it says nothing negative about your character. It is, rather, a condition of being human. Even one of my greatest heroes, the very headstrong, willful, stubborn, and incredibly driven Aleister Crowley had mentors in both mountaineering and magick.
So, let us not languor any longer over linguistics… let’s get to the short list of my VO mentors…
THE MIGHTY THREE:
Harlan Hogan – This guy is one of my distant mentors. We’ve never talked, we’ve never interacted, but I’ve learned from him nonetheless, felt aligned with him, and enjoyed his jocular, jester-like approach to Voiceover. He’s probably been my biggest help in the whole department of “setting up the home studio”.
James Alburger – Again, a distant mentor, and he doesn’t know me from a hole in the ground. But I had to give him props, if for no other reason than the fact that he wrote the Voice Acting bible, The Art of Voice Acting.
Bill De Wees – Probably my most honest-to-goodness mentor. We communicate on a semi-regular basis, I watch his YouTube videos almost every day, I put into practice what he preaches about running a Voiceover Business. This guy is simply the best. Yes, you will pay for his most important, blockbusting info, but he gives away tons of info for free, all the time. He’s quite altruistic with his info, and he knows more about the business than, well, maybe anyone.
If you’re an aspiring VO, all these guys would be good to take on as near or distant mentors, but whomever you choose, make sure it’s somebody you can possibly bounce ideas off of, even in a very indirect way, make sure it’s somebody you respect, and make sure it’s somebody who is not only out to make a buck. Yes, all the above listed guys can sell you something (James has his classes, Harlan has a whole LIST of products, from a personalized mic to an “ON AIR” sign you can put in your home, and Bill has whole courses he sells), but none of this is bad, or reflects negatively… BECAUSE, theses guys have proved themselves in the marketplace, they know what they’re doing, they’re constantly working, and as stated before, they give away a LOT for free.
May you choose the mentor(s) that is/are right for you, and may your journey with them be prosperous and thrilling!