How to go against what people want

Posted on February 1, 2012 by

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This week, there was a great NY Times article featuring voice talent Melissa Disney. You will see it begins, “What gender is the voice of God?”, and touches on why men seem to dominate voiceovers for movie trailers. Now, I witnessed at a very young age, what it means to break from “the norm”. I learned it can lead to heartbreak and tears, and it is very much a  journey to get past established traditions or numbers that others use to prove, “You cannot do it!”. For example, I am a Community Manager. Did you know that 65% of website community managers are women? Does that spell trouble for me? How will I survive in the 35%?  Back on point…How will women survive in the voiceover industry, if it seems to be male-dominated? How do women become the dominant voice in movie trailers?

How do I/you/we go against what people want?!

Here is how, and it applies to any industry:

  • Work your tail off, and don’t be afraid to fight for what you believe in.
  • Learn the rules of the playground, until you can copy, transform, and combine them.
  • If you are trying to please an audience that is not interested, find a new audience.
  • Do not take what people want, personally and when you win, gloat with class.
  • Do not give power to random negative thinking.
  • Above all, if you do not like what someone does, be able to prove why it is unfair.

Wow! This sounds like a whole lotta’ rebellion! Is this risky? What I learned through my job history so far is that what people expect from us based on tradition, how we look, sound, and act, does not always match with what we think is “fair”. That means sometimes you have to ask yourself if you really want to pursue a career. Before working at Voice123, I worked with employment practices claims and saw many lawsuits based around gender-bias. One thing stood out, however, the people who knew how to do their job…always proved they belonged in a business. I personally did not like what I was doing, so I went back into voiceovers after a few years of that work.

Is going against what people want, to do what you want, easy? Only if you have a problem with commitment, and do not know why you want to do it.

It is a journey. But if I start to hear women more often in movie trailers, I will think of Melissa Disney, because she brought up a topic in public, that many talk about in private, and did so in the NY Times. As for voiceover community managers, well…whether I am a Steven or a Stephanie…the quality of work one does will prove to be the foundation of how long a person lasts. Demographics are not working in my favor, but hey…If you look back throughout history, we all deal with this at some point. When I started out in voiceovers, I had a serious mumbling problem and many acting teachers with PhD’s tried to convince me I had no future in voiceovers, and now everyone tells me I talk too much. That was in 1992, and with the Internet, I see posts all the time warning others to not even think about a voiceover career. Believe me…it is tougher to hear that from someone, face-to-face. I cannot delete those comments like a Facebook page. But when you commit to what you want to do, whether others agree with it or not, after a while success will come to you and you will meet people who inspired you.

Just my philosophy for today, if someone is trying to tell you not to do something you are passionate about. How hard you work now…will be the foundation of your success in years to come. You never know…you may just revolutionize an industry.

Any thoughts you would like to share on this?