I suppose you might be excused if this blog post title elicits a raised eyebrow or even a snarky roll of the eye. Have patience, my friend. This post reveals the little-known true motivations behind many of the most familiar quotes from Star Trek. I bet you didn’t even know that many of the primary characters were also voice actors! Read on and you will see how all I need to know about voice-overs I learned from Star Trek.
Hang on, we’re about to go into warp speed.
“A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.” — Dr. Philip Boyce, original pilot episode, The Cage
Sounds like an experienced voice-over pro to me. He probably coaches marketing and speaks at conferences when he isn’t traveling the galaxy and healing his crew.
We are our own harshest critic. How we see ourselves shapes everything we do. The quickest way to wither in your own eyes is to shrink away when confronted with trials. To fail at trying is far better than to turn away in fear.
There is, however, another option Doctor Boyce seems to have missed. There is wisdom in quitting if it is based on a realization that voice-over isn’t what you really want or isn’t something you are equipped for. Not everyone is, and there is no shame in acknowledging it. In this case, quitting is strength.
“Too much of anything, even love, isn’t necessarily a good thing.” Captain James T. Kirk, The Original Series (TOS), The Trouble With Tribbles
This can apply to social media, training, even microphones. A lot of things which catch our attention are distractions which keep us from doing better things. They can also drain our financial resources. It is okay to have fun. Don’t let voice-over become too serious. Meanwhile, keep the old adage “all things in moderation” in mind.
“Insufficient facts always invite danger.” —Mr. Spock, TOS, Space Seed
Spock obviously knows the value of continuing to train and practice as a voice actor. One of the worst situations to be in is to not know how much you don’t know.
“Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity. But improve man, you gain a thousandfold.” —Khan Noonien Singh, TOS, Space Seed
Khan lived a long life and obviously learned a few things about voice-over along the way. He is gently telling us that instead of spending that $1200 on a new microphone, we will have a much higher ROI if we spend it on training; that improving ourselves instead of our technology is often the better choice.
“But one man can change the present!” —Captain James T. Kirk, TOS, Mirror, Mirror
You can’t undo the mistakes you have made or the time you have lost. You can’t go back and prepare better for that live directed session or do marketing instead of binge watching The Crown. Nothing will change the past. If you refocus your mind and your energy, you can change what is happening right now, which will change what your future looks like. Change the present! The present is now!
“Yes, sir. I am attempting to fill a silent moment with non-relevant conversation.” — Lt. Cmdr. Data, The Next Generation (TNG), Starship Mine
Data is struggling a bit with learning how to properly add humanizations and improvisations to his script readings, but he has the right concept. Don’t sound like a robot (or android)!
“The only person you’re truly competing against . . . is yourself.” — Captain Jean-Luc Picard, TNG, Coming of Age
Picard obviously has struggled with comparing himself to his voice-over peers in the past and has learned his lesson. He knows that if you see your only real competition as yourself, you will always be working to improve, without the discouragement of getting lost in how far others may be in front of you.
“I have been told that patience is sometimes a more effective weapon than the sword.” — Lt. Worf, TNG, Redemption, Part 1
Who would have guessed? Pursuing voice-over is a great way to learn patience. It doesn’t sound like Worf has really owned this concept for himself as of yet, but at least he acknowledges the possibility of it. Being too impatient, especially with ourselves, is a major stumbling block to look out for in your voice-over journey. Swords too. Watch out for swords.
“Confidence is faith in oneself. It can’t easily be given by another.” — Counselor Deanna Troi, TNG, Loud as a Whisper
It sounds like Deanna has been approached by a multitude of new voice-over people asking for affirmation. Am I good enough? Will I succeed? Do I have what it takes? Did I do well?
We all need affirmation and meaningful input from others, but here Deanna is making a point about not expecting those things to create confidence. Confidence comes from within, as the fruit or our own self-awareness and hard work. When we come to grips with ourselves, we own our place in the world. As we work our way from point A to point B in our voice-over journey, we learn to value the skills and experience we obtain, giving substance to our confidence. There is no magic wand you can wave, and no one can do it for us.
“If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it’s not for the timid.” — Q, TNG, Q Who
Q was speaking to Captain Picard when he said this, but the hidden subtext makes it obvious he was also addressing beginner voice talent everywhere. Yes, there can be many benefits to this job. But if you think it will be easy, listen to Q. However hard you think it will be, you are probably underestimating. It will take more, cost more and stretch you far more. The people who are great at voice-over make it look easy. It isn’t. Don’t listen to me, listen to Q.
“It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.” Captain Jean-Luc Picard, TNG, Peak Performance
A wise bit of voice-over advice from Captain Picard. Your audition can literally be perfect, yet not get chosen. Sometimes they just have a different voice in mind. Sometimes they are just wrong. Either way, don’t let it sidetrack you. You aren’t weak and you don’t suck. Let it go. It’s just life.
That’s it for this episode, but I’ll have just as many gems of Star Trek wisdom next time. I hope you have gained something valuable, even if it is just a smile to brighten your day.
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