If you've never heard of Red Light Syndrome, then let's turn to our trusty (as trusty as anything on the internet can be at least) friend Urban Dictionary: where a person has musical talent, but once they are being recorded, they fall to pieces. While the definition is taking about musical talent, I think some of us voice actors still can suffer from a varying degree of Red Light Syndrome. Speaking for myself, I don't fall to pieces, but something a bit more sinister happens.
I forget how to play.
For some reason I just clam up ever so slightly. As if I'm being constrained by the mic. And in so doing my personality, the thing that will sell a client on ME, gets diminished. I can even feel it. Before I start recording I'll do some runthroughs and find how I want to tackle the copy. I find where I want to go with it and then hit the record button. WHOMP! Just like that I feel like I start holding back. Which causes me to have to do more takes then I would like to get myself up to where I need to be.
Thankfully I haven't found my RLS to be debilitating. But instead just more frustrating. Because I can tell I haven't been able to be my authentic self. Which means holding back on my unique voice, thus holding me back on giving a potential client the voice they're looking for.
It's something to work on. Being able to identify the problem is the first step to fixing it. Do you suffer from Red Light Syndrome? If you do, how do you combat it?
Last month I took the opportunity to invest in myself, and invest in my career. I took the plunge and joined the World-Voices Organization as an Associate member. And man have I been blown away by this group. What an incredible resource they are and supportive group. I have already met some major talents in the industry and created -- what I hope to be -- lasting relationships.
My first career and still current day job is as an animator. I consider it to have been a side step on my road to being a voice actor. They are twin loves for sure. As I pursued that career as a young person it was late in that education that I learned how important a mentorship can be. Especially for the arts. A formal art education is... problematic. I have a full rant on that which I can save for later. But suffice to say it has become my belief that finding a mentor should be one of the top five goals for an artist.
There is something magical that happens when working one-on-one with another artist. The passion between the two of you is symbiotic. Having mentored young animators I have been on the other side. As you teach, you begin to solidify all the information you've taken over the years. Your knowledge of what you just do naturally cements further. There are times you can even have ah-ha moments as the teacher! And watching your mentee flower and "get it" is an amazing reward.
So no matter how far I go within WoVO -- and I do hope its far as they are an amazing group of voice over professionals -- I can say that even at this level I'm happy to have joined. I'm fired up having just hour long phone calls with incredible talents. Getting their insight, and already learning what I need to tweak in my work to take myself to the next level.