“The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.” – Hamlet
Have you ever had a dream, one so powerful it not only enticed you with untold possibilities, but frightened you with the degree to which you could really screw things up? Have you ever wanted something with every mote of light emitted by your soul, so badly you could taste it, but feared not the first bite but the second, or the third, or everything beyond for reasons you simply could not put to words?
For me, that dream has been voice acting.
There have been other goals, of course, other hopes. Writing, in its various forms, appealed to me from a very young age; I won my first award for writing speculative fiction at age ten. I have penned short stories, stage plays and skits, articles for magazines and newspapers, and countless blog posts across a dozen different sites. The big goal, as far as writing goes, however, has always been novels, the completion of which evades me. But the goal of being a published novelist has never been a dream, not in the sense of ephemeral hopes hovering just outside of my reach. No, writing and publishing a novel is within the reach of anyone with a computer and some skill with words and the tenacity to complete their story, thanks to tools provided by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.
Becoming a voice actor, on the other hand, bears the singular hallmark of a dream.
Dreams are irrational. They don’t exist within the realm of promise, but thrive in a world of unreasonable hope. They are long shots, outside chances, million to one odds. Dreams are those untouchable things, beyond the reach of mere mortals. They come not just by hard work but by unpredictable fortune or just the right combination of both, creatures formed of heroic effort and held together by ties of primordial luck. Dreams are possessed of an inherent absurdity designed to make the rational individual shy away from them, to lock them up in the part of their mind reserved for preposterous things.
In order to achieve these wild, irrational dreams, one must learn to be irrational, and to desire irrational things. To some degree, this means assuming a willingness to take risks, even those with the potential for unsavory consequences, dire consequences.
And it doesn’t help that I’m a bit late to the party.
Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of actors who got their start later in life. Martial artist Steven Seagal took his first acting gig at age 36, Victor Wong – who played Egg Shen in the cult classic Big Trouble in Little China – got his first role at 49, and the venerable Golden Girl Estelle Getty reached the age of 55 before entering the acting world. But those people are the exception rather than the rule, the rare living embodiment of late-blooming dreams. Most are not so fortunate. And by all accounts, starting a career as a voice actor is an order of magnitude more difficult than screen acting, if only because (these days) voice actors are competing not only with other voice actors, but with traditional screen actors who have thrown their name recognition into the universe of voice acting, for a much smaller pool of jobs.
It is irrational for me to pursue this dream. And yet here I am, making my first post to the blog on a website dedicated to taking baby steps into the world of voice acting.
George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
It’s time to be unreasonable. Time to be irrational. To be absurd.
It’s time to dream.