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Silence provides time for Reflection

I haven’t written a blog entry in over a month, which really isn’t all that surprising given that I’ve always had the intention of keeping a monthly update. Still, so much and yet so little has happened that I definitely need to write about it. Please note that this entry will be a bit more raw than the others but I believe that makes it all the more important.

To start, I’m not sure if I could call it progress but perhaps I have moved forward since the start of 2016. To recall from my last entry, I was all set to record my animation demo but I temporarily put that on hold so that I could take Global Voice Acting Academy’s “Youthful VO: Toys, Games, and Mobile Game Apps” 4-week long course.

Let me pause in my story for a moment to discuss GVAA: I found them through World Voices Organization and their knowledge and advise has been immeasurably beneficial. I wish I knew about them years ago and I highly encourage anyone who is seriously contemplating getting into the industry to seek them out: globalvoiceacademy.com

To continue, the course took all of my January as the homework part was a bit more intense than I was prepared for (not complaining but accompanying that with learning my new day-job kept me busy! I’m STILL learning my day job and I’ve been there 3 months already). The final class, where Anne Ganguzza discussed marketing and branding with us, was postponed to the first week of February due to a Voice Actor conference. This isn’t necessary information but it’s useful for the sake of timeline. (I like to keep track of these things).

The workshop was both beneficial and detrimental. Let me reiterate that I adore GVAA and the instruction of Cristina Milizia was phenomenal – there was nothing about the course itself that “put me off”, so to speak. However, we all have different ways of learning and I unfortunately have been “traumatized” if you will, by group learning in the past – I recall an especially difficult session where I was sitting with my back against the wall with my classmates and stand-in professor standing around me, literally (no exaggeration) pointing and not only critiquing my acting but criticizing my personal and physical attributes; the goal, the professor actually stated, was to get me to stop smiling. I was so distraught by the experience that I choked during an audition shortly after, which only increased my trepidation and lowered my confidence further. I’ve fought hard to overcome these painful memories but putting myself back into a group atmosphere opened myself to a vulnerability that I haven’t shown in years. (That’s not to say I haven’t taken acting classes since then – in fact, that traumatic experience happened in Sophomore year of college & I was able to still graduate in Performing Arts. But I lost that openness I once had and I carefully selected what classes I took and with whom). The fellow students were all very sweet but I unfortunately over-analyzed every word that was said to me and I began comparing myself to them.

One of the aspects of almost any actor that is often overlooked is the overwhelming need for approval. It’s not about “stroking one’s ego”, it literally is simply confirming that we are doing a good job. My sister listens to Chris Hardwick’s podcast and stated that he mentions this quite a bit. To reiterate, I want to know that you like what I do and If you do, I’ll keep doing it. Like when an actor on stage feeds off his audience – their enjoyment energizes the performance. Without that response, it’s difficult to continue on; like a stand up comedian who hears nothing but crickets. Now, it’s different when you’re alone in a little box with only a mic before you. There’s a certain freedom to let go and then you become your own audience during the editing process (at least that’s been my experience, but I’ve not worked on large projects).

I have always had the unfortunate mentality of only being able to truly let go in a performance once I’ve been cast. The moment the casting director says “yes, you’ve got the part”, I am putty and will do whatever I am told. But during the audition, my barrier is still up. The people in the room and I are not yet a team – they can point and laugh and when they’re done, they’ll leave. This is also how I feel in group sessions. We are not all part of a whole, putting together a production. We are competitors, aiming to get the “gold star” from the teacher.

This is all very negative thinking that’s detrimental to the creative flow; I know this intellectually. But I also know the importance of protecting what little creativity I have burning inside at whatever cost.

So with this insecurity, doubt tends to seep in. ‘Well, So-and-So said this so she must have meant that.’ An example would be a co-worker complimenting your shirt. Do you accept the compliment at face value? What if she meant “I like your shirt today” because she hates what you wear every other day? What if she directed attention to your shirt so she could scoff at your hair? Or what if she only said she liked your shirt, when in reality she was pulling a Regina from Mean Girls? (I know, that reference is getting dated!) Take that mentality and apply it to when the instructor says “good job” to me but “oh my goodness, that was SO cute! Awesome!” to the girl after me; what am I supposed to think? Am I just good? Did the instructor just say that so she could continue on with the class? Or could I be egotistical enough to ponder that perhaps in the eyes of the instructor, I truly did do well and the girl after me simply seemed to need more positive feedback?

I’ve known I wanted to be an actress since I was 4. I’ve loved voice acting since I was 7. I’ve been aware that the Entertainment Industry was superficial and a bit cutthroat since I was about 10 – when I was told I would never be tall enough to be a model. I tried to prepare myself for the critiques and in doing so my process became too internalized. I’ve taken myself out of the competition because I knew I wasn’t the best for the role; I’m simply too short, too fat, to sweet looking, not sexy enough – and that was that. But with voice acting, I never felt it was personal until I started doubting my actual talent. Which is ultimately what the workshop led me to. (Again – I do NOT fault GVAA! This is my own beast I must battle).

So, I made a decision to step back for a bit and breath and remember what it is that I truly love doing. And I remembered. I love to ACT.

Now unfortunately, the world doesn’t work the way we think it should. I can’t just work part-time as a waitress and wait for my ‘big break’ (Hearing Chris Pratt’s story makes me feel unsettled and I already know there’s a happy outcome). And that’s why I decided to focus my attention on voice acting; it’s a bit more flexible to get into as the jobs tend to be a bit faster due to the nature of the medium.

So, I’m back where I started. But not really. I was able to battle my doubt and overcome it. And I also realized that commercial voice over is not something I want my focus to be on. That’s not what I love doing. I love bringing a character to life and telling a story. Through the advise of Anne Ganguzza, I am re-branding as myself. I’m not going to worry so much about looking professional – it’s okay to let my lovely quirkiness shine through.

I’m now ready to stand back up, tweak my website, record my animation demo, and get back out there! Right after I get over this case of strep throat that has caused me to all but lose my voice….

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