I’m carrot cake! What are you? – A voiceover anecdote

This might come as a shock to you but auditioning for absolutely everything is not a good idea.

So many people out there are taking a sort of shotgun approach to voiceover, but really, the only thing they are doing is shooting themselves in the foot. And, if you’ll allow me to switch my metaphors from hunting to baking, I can explain why…

Carrot cake for breakfast? Why not?!
Carrot cake for breakfast? Why not?! (Photo credit: fuzzcat)

My voice — is carrot cake. And, day in/day out, I work to make it the very best carrot cake that it can ever be. I refine my recipe (taking classes, practicing, auditioning, etc) leveraging all of the most useful feedback and discarding the comments that just aren’t helpful.

So, when I look for auditions, I tend to focus on auditions that seem to be seeking carrot cake. After all, I am really, really good carrot cake!

Then, one day, I see an audition. It looks interesting… It seems exciting! It pays well!!

But… they are looking for cherry pie.

Do I think, “Cherry pie? I can do that!” No, and here’s why.

Imagine being a blindfolded judge of a cherry pie competition. You sit there, eyes covered, being fed tastes of incredible pies one after the other. Your taste buds have tuned themselves to detect the delicately nuanced differences between the pies. Bing cherries, Black Tartarians, Lamberts, Montmorency Sours, you know them all!

Then, without warning, you are fed a bite of — carrot cake.

Unprepared for the change in taste and texture, you spit it from your mouth, tear the blindfold off, look carrot cake straight in the eye, and ask it to leave the room. After carrot cake leaves, you try to clean your pallet and get back into your cherry pie tasting zone. In frustration, you make a note that the next time you have a carrot cake audition, you will not be hiring THAT carrot cake.

The lesson? Even the very best carrot cake makes horrible cherry pie.

This story was first relayed to me by Kristin Price at Edge Studio. When asking Kristin if I could use it here, she said:

I heard it from an actress I knew in San Francisco, who had heard it from an acting teacher. Rather than crediting me for coming up with it, it might be better to say something like “there’s a useful story out there in the acting world…” or words to that effect. I don’t want to take credit for someone else’s brilliant analogy (and unfortunately I don’t know the name of the acting teacher).

I want to credit Kristin here for a simple reason. This is all about voiceover. And the value of a good story, is in the telling. And, Kristin is a good storyteller — and teacher. If you have a chance to take a class with her, you should jump at it.



9 Replies to “I’m carrot cake! What are you? – A voiceover anecdote”

  1. Well, a games producer thinks I have a voice ‘like butter-mixed KY jelly’. I thought twice about posting that on my website, but thought why not? It suggests some kind of uniqueness, just as you suggest Steven, and hasn’t inundated me with dodgy reads.

    1. Howard, that is hysterical! And, yes, it does suggest something smooth and “playful”. I bet that you could build a whole marketing campaign around that. 🙂

  2. Thinking about this – and hello to you Debby! – just this week a young lady bilingual VO based in the Aegean is asking on a wall about her (extremely mild) English ‘accent’, implying she wants to change it.
    In reality, as one veteran pointed out, it sounds like pure sunshine – a natural, unique asset, setting her apart from the well worn path of soundalike or mid-Atlantic. Several colleagues posted in agreement.

  3. Point taken; find your niche and market the heck out of that. However, producers often don’t know *what* they want- cherry pie, carrot cake, or banana bread. Once they hear it, they’ll say “That’s what we wanted all along.” YOU may think you’re not what they’re looking for, but often you’re EXACTLY what they’re looking for; they just don’t know it yet. Maybe it’s time to loosen up just a bit on how you define your niche. My $0.02 worth. Great story. Thanks Steven.

    1. Hi Daniel. I totally get where you are coming from. However, if I were going to branch out from carrot cake, I might be more successful starting with banana bread auditions than cherry pie (banana bread being arguably closer to carrot cake). It behooves us to know our niche and to expand incrementally, so we can move from strength to new strength. What do you think?

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