Auditioning: The Importance of Originality

Posted on August 14, 2009 by


The following article was generously submitted by Voice123 talent, Gord Brooks, and his take on the importance of being original while working online:

“Good Judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment”
-Sufi sage/fool Mulla Nasrudin, born circa 1208

The above quote seems obvious when you put it so clearly. Indeed, as kids we learned our most valuable lessons from bad judgment. Unfortunately, as with so much from our childhood, we learn how to be ‘safe’ as we “grow up”. We stop taking risks. We stay within the comfort zone that “experience” has taught us will bring the least risk. During the process, we lose the sharp outline of who we are, and we become blurred and indistinguishable as an individual, gradually merging into the herd. Remember, there is no ‘I’ in sheep, if you know what I mean.

Why preface my story with another reminder about how great it was to be a kid?

Why remind you of your glory days when you were an 8 year-old fearless rebel?

I am offering you a ‘perspective’. I should explain that my auditions are often weird, funny, waaay off base, and at times, rude. I have chosen to be very wrong, and chosen to be very right… But they are always unique, impulsive, and 100% genuine, Gord Brooks originals. At least, they were until…..”THE YEAR THE ECONOMY CHOKED TO DEATH AT THE ALL YOU CAN EAT “SUB-PRIME” BUFFET”. And so begins my tale…

We join our hero, Gord, during the spring of 2009. Gord’s spirits (and income) are lower than the Prime Rate. With the economy in limbo, there was less work available for less money. As with most people who are self-employed, not having a steady, predictable income to match one’s steady, predictable bills induces a constant low ‘watermark’ of stress. It is always there, as if it were a law of nature. As the months rolled by with no improvement, that ‘watermark’ rose in pitch, and volume to a nails-on-blackboard screech. Seriously, the way things were going; it was scary.

There was something even more serious taking place…During this time, without realizing it:

  • I had changed the way I was auditioning.
  • I was not letting myself have fun.
  • I was not going with my gut instinct.
  • I was editing out anything that had even a faint whiff of risk.
  • I focused on providing exactly what was ‘requested’, not giving voice seekers any reason to reject me. Out of fear I had gradually morphed into Gord “The Safety Bear”.

In ice hockey (I am Canadian), there is a term “Gripping the stick too hard”. It means you are too tight, not loose not having fun, and not relaxed. I was gripping so hard I got splinters. The result? I got great feedback, but I actually saw fewer jobs. Interesting. In June, after yet another audition where I had ranked #1, and was not hired, I finally woke up to what was wrong. I decided the Safety Bear needed to get dangerous. The very next audition would be ‘the genuine Gord Brooks’.

That audition was for a restaurant called Spinnakers, and the voice seeker was from “The Tourism Network”. I was not sure how I was going to have some fun with this, but I was going to try something original i.e. My way. The opportunity came in an outtake. I could not say “margarita”. The ‘R’ rolling thing was really weak. As a practice, when I flub a reading, I try not to endlessly repeat the word or phrase trying to get it right. Instead, I start improving, singing, or switching my voice completely in between each attempt. I find it keeps me relaxed, and loose instead of getting impatient or pushing too much. I cut the outtakes down to a short, snappy, funny bit, which ended the custom demo. You can listen to the audition here.

It was exactly the type of thing I often did in the past, classic ‘Me’. It worked! I received an email response saying how much they liked the demo, and asked if I would be interested in doing on-going work for their SEVEN TV stations! Obviously…Squeezing them into my schedule would not be a problem. Here’s the twist… Spinnakers went with another voice.

However, in the email explaining Spinnakers choice, there was a new script for an entirely different restaurant with a much larger budget. Talk about instant, unmistakable confirmation that I was back on the right track!

The moral of my story: When I went back to being me, when I focused on doing what I do best, and most importantly when I trusted myself…success followed, instantly.

by Gord Brooks

Voice123 thanks Gord Brooks for taking the time out to tell us about his voice over experience. If you ever have any success stories that you would like to share, please write us!

Thank you!

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