That is the question. A while ago, I made the decision to stop pursuing acting work for six months. I found that my mental health was beginning to suffer, and it wasn’t making me happy anymore. It’s only normal for people to ask, ‘So how’s it going?’ ‘Any jobs lately?’ To which my default answer would be, ‘It’s slow/not at the moment’, which just made me feel worse.
Without an agent, the list of jobs you can apply for can be slim pickings sometimes and on a lot of jobs I was starting to feel like a glorified extra, even if my character had a name. Saying that, having an agent isn’t a guarantee that you will get work. The acting industry is one of the hardest to get into and to sustain a career in. Only 2% of actors earn a living solely from acting, leaving 98% of us working pay-the-bills jobs that are usually less than fulfilling. The 98% podcast encapsulates the worlds of these actors brilliantly, with all the ups and downs that they face.
Initially, I saw getting into voiceover as a side gig to support my acting career, however the longer I have worked at it, the more I’m realising it’s a completely viable and enjoyable career on its own. Branching out into voiceover has made me realise it is possible to get decent work myself and it’s really nice to have something to say when people ask the inevitable. I initially saw moving away from acting as ‘giving up’. But I have come to realise that it is more like ‘taking a step back’, no job is worth sacrificing your health and well-being for. I’m not saying I’ll never return to acting, but for now I’m happy to watch the actors do their thing on stage/TV, but I have my own thing.
That’s not to say voiceover isn’t acting in its own right, it completely is, just in a different way. You still have to action a script, convey emotion, be a character and tell a story, however you have to do all of this with your words, as body language and facial expressions can’t be seen (but they can be heard, trust me!).
Having my own home studio makes me feel empowered, that I can work for clients around the world whenever I want. I can be working on an explainer video one day and a telephone system the next, it’s so varied and never boring. Being my own boss brings me so much joy, joy that I found hard to sustain whilst being an actor, putting my happiness in other people’s hands and getting my self-worth from their approval.