The Myth of The Gatekeeper

The Myth of The Gatekeeper

You hold the key to your success

For a while now, I’ve been noticing some commentary emanating from different corners of the voiceover ecosystem.  This seems to be mirrored, if not influenced, by a few selling voiceover services.  I am speaking of the false notion of “gatekeeping.”  There’s this fallacy floating around that experienced voiceover talent are somehow putting up barricades, border checkpoints, walls, etc. to prevent successful entry into the world of VO.  If you are newer to voiceover, then please let me put your mind at ease…ain’t nobody trying to “gatekeep” you!

That being said, let’s acknowledge the reality that there are jerks and unchecked egos in every vocation or creative pursuit…some more prevalent than others.  In contrast, there’s actually a level of community support that is a bit unique to our creative vocation.  So, let’s pump the brakes on the idea of “gatekeeping” with some simple truths that should help refocus any energy invested in this fallacy.

Back when I began in VO (some 30+ years ago), the interwebs wasn’t a factor.  VO talent didn’t have access to the scale and scope of individual marketing resources we enjoy today.  Back then, having quality representation was the order of the day if you wanted to procure quality gigs.  Talent agents stood between talent and buyers…not as a means of “gatekeeping”, per se.  Yet, buyers were generally accustomed to working through agents to choose voices for their projects.  Successful agencies had a reputation of featuring a vetted roster of capable VO talent.  So, in that sense, yes…agents were minding the gates for the buyers.

However, there was an intrepid bunch of working VO talent who invested time and money in a more “analogue” marketing approach.  These creative talent were busy creating marketing databases, mailing demo tapes and CD’s and craftily building relationships with buyers.  Though their agents were generally the primary source for auditions and opportunities, they were effectively supplementing their agent’s efforts with some of their own creative marketing.  Though we’ve gone digital and the method of creating these opportunities has evolved, the methodology remains the same…and is more important now than it’s ever been.

As I’ve just noted, taking the reins of one’s own creative/career trajectory was once a bit limited.  Now, working talent must be actively involved in their own marketing to thrive.  Yes, professional and solid agents are still an important part of the VO ecosystem, but a successful working VO talent must be involved in their own marketing and relationship building to truly thrive.  

I’ve alluded to the talent, agents and the buyers.  Why haven’t I mentioned anything about other working talent or those who can limit your success?  Well, it’s because they don’t exist.  I’m not saying that there aren’t a few rogue egos who would rather see you not succeed.  They just don’t have an effect on your career trajectory…unless you let them.  That’s right, you have to actually allow their opinions to take hold before their “opinions” can push you off course.  All that being said, they are a rare breed that don’t comprise the majority of the tribe.

Since I have established that gatekeepers simply don’t exist, why does this mythology still float out there in the ether?  Why do newer talent keep reiterating this myth as if it were fact?  I’ve been noticing that this fallacy has been used as a marketing tool by a few trying to pitch coaching, online video courses, etc.  They are playing into the inherent insecurities of newer talent by seeming to invoke an empathetic approach.  What many try to say is something tantamount to: 

“We know that all those mean veteran talent don’t want you to be a part of what they are doing.  They are just mean gatekeepers who are trying to keep you away from the glory of earning money with a microphone.  We have your shortcut to being a success.  Don’t listen to those with experience.  Their elitist cabal meets once a year in a secret mountain hideaway in the Alps, so as to devise new innovations to keep you away from your dreams and aspirations.  Boooooo experience!”

C’mon now, let’s come back down to earth.  Let’s evaluate the intent of anyone who tells you this.  They are either ignorant, or they have a vested interest in your belief that only “they” can provide the one true portal to VO success.  In other words, they are just trying to sell you something.  There you go…the “myth” is a marketing tool.  It’s an us/them approach that is nonsense…and a distraction from the work at hand.

In the world of contemporary VO, there is only one “gatekeeper”…YOU!

The buyer is the ultimate decision maker.  You have no control over their psychology or methodology.  However, you DO have control over you.  Your attitude, aptitude, experience and effort are the only things which will restrict (or propel) your progress. 

Yes, there are times where the advice and guidance offered from veteran talent may not be what you want to hear.  Is it elitist?  Is it gatekeeping?  More often than not…the answer is “no.”  If someone takes the time to offer constructive criticism, then expands their advice with some guidance as to what to do next on your path, then think of “why.”  Are they saying you can’t do this thing, or are they helping to provide a more effective path?  A gatekeeper gives you a multitude of reasons as to how you can’t do a thing.  They rarely try to empower you with a plan of action.  (Yet, as we’ve already established, there are no “gatekeepers.”)

One of the reasons why I founded The Voiceover Community was to help neutralize some of the “noise” out there.  My aspiration was (and is) to provide a venue where those with many miles under their VO wheels can offer up the wisdom gleaned of years of experience, mistakes and successes.  We remember what it’s like when you first get rolling…the uncertainty, insecurities, questions, etc.  I, along with those I respect, remember and want to share what we can to help you traverse your own VO path.  

If you, in any way, feel impaired by the advice given to you, then seek out a second opinion. Remember…there are no gatekeepers.  If someone says there are, then contemplate their motivation for telling you that.  Are they trying to sell you something?  Have they found success in VO, or are they relatively new to the game and letting their ignorance show?   If you want to pursue VO, then start setting goals, seek the wisdom of those who have been to the place you want to go…and do the work.  You’ll find that you’ve had the keys to the “gate” the whole time.

Your Friend & Neighbor,


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@peepso_user_1073(Isabella Tugman)
I completely agree! Well said!
3 weeks ago