Biggest Mistakes in VO Part 7: The POA Factor

Some actors get further along in their careers and develop a Pain In The Ass factor.  Some actors bring their POA factor to this business from the get-go and have to be humbled before learning how their behavior might prevent folks from wanting to work with them.  I hope you have a POA factor of 0.  I remember a few years back watching Bill Maher interview Chris Rock for an hour straight on HBO.  It was a fantastic interview as both of these men are extremely entertaining.  They were also honest and open about their careers, which is always refreshing and inspirational.  Maher and Rock discussed the myriad ways one can “asshole their way out of a job.”  They described one comic in particular who was up for SNL in the 90s.  According to Maher and Rock, this comic was one of the most brilliant up-and-coming comedians in the business.  They knew it was just a matter of time before this guy shot to the top.  When you are up for SNL, it is rumored that for the final interview of a very arduous process, Lorne Michaels makes the auditioning talent sit outside of his office for several hours to test their patience.  This guy wasn’t having it, and after only a short while, he bailed on the meeting.  “What ever happened to that guy?” asked Chris Rock.  Neither of them knew.  But if that guy hadn’t let his ego get in the way, he might’ve been the next Will Farrell or Kristen Wiig.  Or not.  But if it were you, wouldn’t you want to at least have the option of finding out?

The phrase, “don’t asshole your way out of a job” became even more relevant to me when I started referring fellow talent over to agents and helping out my casting director friends with their projects.  I couldn’t believe how difficult some talent were to work with.  Yes, some people have huge egos (increasing the POA factor exponentially), but when people made them selves too difficult to want to work with, eventually I didn’t feel safe referring them.  And this is not to say that talent get treated fairly all the time–of course there are red flags where you have to dig your heels in to protect yourselves.  But the POA Factor I’ve seen displayed when there is money on the table is shocking considering how much actors like to complain that there aren’t enough jobs out there.

The number one mistake is being an A-hole.  There is no need to ever be mean or arrogant.  None of us is any better than anyone else, and from what I’ve seen, the more successful people get in voice over, the kinder and more generous they are.  When I see a talent being an A-hole, it smacks of being unprofessional and unseasoned.  You can pass on jobs with grace and dignity and without making a buyer feel like they’re beneath you.  The Golden Rule is golden for a reason.  Apply it to your voice over career, and you will be rewarded greatly.

The second mistake is being difficult to get in touch with.  You know what I’m going to say here, right?  This business moves QUICKLY, and so should you.  I can’t believe I’m still saying this, but you need to have a way to check email on the go.  You need to communicate with your agents and clients quickly and efficiently.  If you are difficult to track down, the jobs will go elsewhere.  An extension of this is someone who makes scheduling a session a nightmare.  If you do this work full time, you will have days where you are cramming in many sessions.  Don’t tell your agent that you have a hair appointment that you can’t reschedule or an inflexible day job (both true stories).  You must be accommodating.  End of story.

The third mistake is being an all around POA, which encompasses the above points.  POA Factor increasers:  making communication difficult for your agent, getting defensive when receiving feedback on auditions or sessions, being mean, catty, or petulant towards your agent, clients or other actors.  Be easy to work with, available for work, and talented, and you will have a long and lovely career!

Anna Vocino