Because I was completely blind-sided when the company I worked for for 10 years eliminated my position leaving me with no job.
Because I wanted to study acting at Michigan State University back when I first matriculated but my (sometimes too) logical brain told me to get a degree in accounting so that I could obtain an actual paying job once I graduated and then pursue acting on the side.
Because I love my family and often wish I had more free time to spend with them.
Because I feel like this is something I’m good at.
Because I’m scared.
That’s the short list of why I decided to pursue voice over and go into business for myself.
There are many more reasons but these are the main ones.
Let me go into a little more detail on each one.
Three years ago the company I worked for went through a big transition. A merger was involved and long story short, my position at that time was eliminated. I was absolutely blindsided. My ego got the best of me in those 10 years and I thought there was no way, NO WAY!, the company would ever let me go. I was invaluable.
I was wrong.
Hey kids, here’s a little tip: corporations don’t care about you. At the end of the day, you are just a nameless, faceless worker bee. You’re there for the company to take all your good ideas and profit from those good ideas. Another tip: take those good ideas and start your own business. You can thank me later.
But let me say this: I’m not bitter. Really! I’m not. The company had to do what it thought best for the business.
A while after losing my job (and gaining another) I sought out a voice over coach/teacher because I wanted to have a skill to fall back on should I ever lose my job again (side note: I’m a full-time food broker, calling on the company that laid me off. As Alanis Morrissette would say, isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?).
I would love to be able to do voice over full time right now but I’m a realist. I’ve got to be Uta Pippig, not Florence Griffith-Joyner. (For those of you who don’t keep up with women’s running, that was a reference to the fact that this is a marathon, not a sprint).
Reason Number 2
In my senior year of high school, I was the lead in the play Shrew!, a musical version of Shakespeare’s Kiss Me Kate (yep, I was Kate the shrew). I loved acting even before earning that role but being on stage, in that show, was the icing on the cake for me. I wanted to study acting at Michigan State, it has a really good theatre program. But I also wanted to ensure I earned a good living after I graduated.
Being a struggling actress and earning a good living just don’t go together.
I earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in accounting, packed my bags and moved to Chicago. Second City here I come!
Yeah, that whole pursuing acting on the side thing didn’t happen. I ended up traveling 50% of the time for my job. I couldn’t pursue acting on the side, I was rarely in town.
But. Once I settled down (read: got married, moved to the suburbs of Charlotte, NC) I was able to perform in numerous shows in local community and semi-professional theatre. I’ve been nominated for a few awards and have received a few glowing reviews.
Unfortunately, community theatres don’t pay the actors, it’s all on a volunteer basis.
Voice over is a way to tap into the acting skills AND get paid.
Reason Number 3
I have a husband and a 5-year-old son. They are my life. I love them to pieces. My son is now in kindergarten and I hate that at 2:30PM, he has to attend the after-school program until I can pick him up at 5. During his summer vacation, he’ll have to attend daycare as well. Both my husband and I work full time. If I can eventually grow the voice over business to where it replaces the current salary I make, I could have much more time and flexibility to be with my son.
But again, building a voiceover career is Uta Pippig, not Flo-Jo. If I can make a move to full time VO in 5 to 7 years, my son will still be in school and I’ll still be able to spend more time with him before he goes off to college (or whatever he chooses to do).
Reason Number 4
I’ve never been outstanding at anything.
I was a decent student. A mediocre softball player. I’m kind of funny. Sort of cute. An okay writer.
Again, nothing I could ever make a living off of.
While I would never, ever use the term ‘outstanding’ to describe anything about me or my abilities (I’m just too critical of myself), I do think I have a viable shot to make a career of voice over. In fact, I have already had some paying voice over gigs (again, ironically, the company that laid me off, hired me as a vendor to do voice over work).
Reason Number 5
Fear holds us back from too many things. I’m afraid of failing. But I’m more afraid of not trying.
There you have it folks, my reasons for creating Jackie O VO and pursuing voiceover as a ‘side gig’.
Dana Vanhoy is a voice over artist, food broker, mom, wife, a faithful follower of Christ, and devoted fan of Rick Springfield for the past 35 years (stop judging).