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  • Writer's pictureMichael Apollo Lira

You don't know what you don't know

There's a saying out there that goes "you don't know what you don't know". It's simple, yet it speaks volumes when one starts to actually realize just how much is out there that you DON'T actually know. If there's one thing I've learned in life - it's that the more I learn, the less I know.

Is that a side effect of learning??

There's a phenomenon described as the Dunning-Kruger Effect that's relevant to this. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Dunning-Kruger Effect by saying that as a person starts to learn a little bit about something, they can easily slip into the false notion of becoming an expert on the matter (relevant quotes are "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” & “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” ...thanks, Darwin!).

For me, I think a great example of this was the frustration I experienced earlier on in my voice acting journey with auditioning.

So first - I learned how to audition. With that, I can join the race! I can send out auditions, be heard, book gigs, get paid!! And in the early days, I would spend a great deal of time recording and editing each audition before sending it off with all the hopes in the world attached. Kind of like a mother sending her little one to his first day of pre-school. Oh, I hope my little audition gets along with the others and makes some friends!

"If they hear this, they're really going to like it! I just know it!"

Because why not, right?? I worked hard on my audition! They'll be able to hear just how hard I worked on it! If they just give it a listen, I know I can land this gig!

"BEHOLD! Admire the pristine read that I have provided! I read your script 20, 30 times - and I have edited many segments from many takes! All down into this ONE, PERFECT READ! BOW DOWN MORTAL!"

And I'd never hear back. Gasp! The audacity!

But, but! Didn't they HEAR how much work I put in?? Don't they get it?? What's wrong with these people?! They should know better!

...this is about where the self-proclaimed expertise kicks in and the bruised ego ultimately results...oh, hello Dunning-Kruger!

An example of what might occur in a newbie's mind when an audition doesn't go how they expect

We interrupt this rant to bring you an important public service announcement!

When auditioning, something important to keep in mind is that casting (or whoever is receiving auditions) created a project often times with something very specific in mind. A vision. An idea!

A casting call. Think of it as casting a net, or even fishing. The casting director may receive many auditions, but they generally already have an idea of what it is they want or need for a project. But just how many people out there might sound like what they already have in mind?? The descriptors "conversational", "authentic", and "friendly" leave much to be interpreted. Many of the auditions they receive are simply doomed from the start based on this idea and expectation that the casting director may already have in their head. If they're looking for trout, and you're a salmon, then you ain't it. Heck, you can be delicious and buttery with herbs and a side of white wine, but at the end of the day - it isn't about you. But the audition is about the vision of the project...and if you ain't it, you ain't it.

How many people new to the world voice over know this?

...not many. So to them, auditioning is more about...well, them! The talent auditioning, I mean. And that's not to say that to some degree, it shouldn't be about you. I audition for me! I want to book gigs, have fun, make money, and meet people!

But what I'm saying here is that you CANNOT take rejection personally - and that is probably one of the most common rookie mistakes one can make in the world of auditions. Because as I said - if you ain't it, you ain't it...

...for THIS project.

All that said: you ARE right for some of the jobs that are out there.

You are!

You just have to find them. And the only way to do that, is to 1) ACTUALLY AUDITION and 2) hope that your audition matches the vision of the project's creator. Work hard on your auditions! These are a labor of love! And if you're not giving them your best work, then why even audition in the first place?

This COULD happen to you with the perfect audition

And don't forget, you don't know what you don't know.

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1 Comment

Tyler Robbert
Tyler Robbert
Dec 02, 2021

"You don't know what you don't know" has become something of a personal mantra for me in recent months, albeit more in regards to my day job than my VO stuff. It absolutely applies to...well...pretty much everything, really. I love the PSA to newbies regarding auditioning, though. Taking rejection personally is a recipe for burnout. Rejection does not equate to "You suck," rather it just means what you've said, "You ain't it for THIS one." Stellar wisdom, Michael. Appreciate you, brother.

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