Are Celebrities Really Taking Voice Over Jobs?

This is Part Two of “Celebs Are Taking Voice Over Jobs Away from the Voice Over Community… Really?!

Artists can be gifted in many different ways, and can grow and develop outside of their beginning niche. We see crossover all the time with actors cutting an album or singing or playing an instrument in a film. We see current pop stars making their feature film debuts – for example Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and The Voice making his feature film debut in Begin Again (which I’ve not seen, so I have no comment on his acting prowess).

Are Celebs Really Taking Voice Over Jobs?And then you have someone like Josh Groban hosting a TV reality music show. Are there actors who focus on and pursue TV hosting gigs that are up in arms about that? Do they feel he is stealing their hosting gig? He’s a singer… What does he think he’s doing hosting a reality show?!

Pro athletes who have retired from playing are often hired as commentators. Does that make other sports announcers angry? If they have the background, and name recognition to provide a draw for an audience, then why shouldn’t they get the gig? If they can’t cut it, it will be apparent very quickly and the network will let them go.

Michael Strahan has certainly taken a pro football career to whole new heights in broadcasting as co-host of Live with Kelly and Michael every morning. And we’ve certainly seen a round robin of commentators on The View, who are not broadcasters by trade, but actors, comediennes, and personalities that drive a conversation show, just giving their opinions.

Maybe Every Voice Over Job is Fair Game For Anyone Who Can Get it

Sons and daughters of famous folks (actors, singers, politicians) will occasionally find a springboard with their name and notoriety to help get them in the game, but often they are held to a higher standard, and again, have to prove themselves to maintain their spots. Jenna Bush Hager is a good example. She’s now a regular commentator on the Today show, after a ramp up that wasn’t always stellar. I’m sure there were other broadcasters that would love to have had that spot, but it went to someone who audiences can recognize by her name and connections. Sometimes it’s all about connections, and how we use them.

It irks me that some people think there should be some boundary around what any particular person can do. Why do we have to put everyone in a box and hold them there? There are auto mechanics who are also musicians, lawyers who are also voice over professionals, doctors who are also ballroom dancers. And if they happen to be better than someone else, who calls it their profession, then why shouldn’t they get the gig when opportunities arise?

Same for celebrity actors getting voice over jobs in feature animation projects over unknown voice over actors. The title of the article that prompted this discussion suggests “celebrities are silencing career pros.” Silencing? As if a journeyman VO actor somehow expects to be offered the lead in a feature film instead of (the late) Robin Williams, or Steve Carell, or Cate Blanchett?

I think it is possible… but not very likely. Leads in any motion picture are not up for grabs for the entire acting community. Casting directors are not throwing out an open call for these roles. And those actors cast for their talent and name value, in my opinion, are definitely not stealing work from other qualified candidates. They are actors who have reached a level of success where they have more clout, and in turn, more choices. They are rewarded by being on the inside track.

In my book, there is no rule that says what is appropriate or accepted for anyone to do, regardless of their background, training, or position. There is room for everyone. The attitude that somehow voice over jobs are being “stolen” from VO actors (by other, presumably better actors) is something one can dwell on, or complain about, but for me personally, it just doesn’t even enter my mind as something useful to think about.

I prefer to focus on gratitude for the work I have, the voice over clients who continue to hire me, and new work that continues to cross my path. It’s all about perspective. We all have the right to choose how we see it. I’m not blind. But I choose to focus on the good… and then more good follows.

5 comments on “Are Celebrities Really Taking Voice Over Jobs?

  1. Rick Lance Studio on

    Nice article, Deb! I’ve felt the same way. Having been through the Nashville music scene, the active acting community here and seeing the celebrity activity this city attracts, they’re all entitled to whatever heights they may reach. If anything we can learn from those folks. My concentrations lie in self improvement to be the best I can be. Not in worrying or envying. Sometimes I feel like those goofy little dolls and such out there with signs that say, “What? Me worry?”

  2. Debbie Grattan on

    Hey Rick,
    Thanks for the comment and the insight from the Nashville perspective. And I really think your point about just aiming for the best we can be, and not worrying so much about what everyone else is doing, is often the best advice.

  3. Howard Ellison on

    Try this: close your eyes and listen to TV or film acting. How often would it carry suspense in a radio drama or bring life to a web explainer?
    Voice acting is a specialist art, craft, gift. And what a gig: mood, character and emotion to be conveyed without gesture, facial expression, lighting, props, costume, greasepaint – and all the while staying ‘on-mic’ and focused while someone natters in your earpiece or peers at you through a window!

    Yes, of course our great visible colleagues can master the vocal art and move souls, but ultimately as Debbie has already pointed out, casting is swayed by the roar of the crowd.

    Is there not a comparable trend in TV documentary? Celebs visit far-flung places and chat to camera, where once we would have heard a scripted commentary. How high it rises depends on the celeb, the research and the production values. Not to mention budget.

    However I agree with Joe as well: there is great voice work to be netted even here in the calmer waters of the UK. It is indeed best if we focus on what’s possible.

  4. Keith Michaels on

    Deb…

    Great read as usual. I agree with your comments on animated film. However the article would be well suited to have gone with the title “Celebrities Taking Commercial Voiceover Work…” This to me is the discussion. I understand that they are celebrities, and the name sells. But if you can’t identify the voice of the celebrity, then who cares? For example the other day I heard a spot with Jorja Fox. It was by chance that I caught enough of it to hear her raspy voice. Who the heck is really going to realize that Jorja Fox is the voice unless you are a rabid CSI fan? That spot could have easily been awarded to a deserving union or non union voice actor. Animated Films…yes I can see it. Makes sense. Commercials that just use the voiceover and no visuals of the celeb? Frustrating.

  5. Debbie Grattan on

    Thanks Howard and Keith for weighing in with your very valid comments!

    I find it interesting that much of the uptick I see written about this article (here and in other forums) involves some sort of “unfair” practice, of awarding a celebrity a job, over some “deserving” union or non-union VO actor… As if the celebrity is somehow UNfairly cashing in on their celeb advantage and taking something away from another actor.

    My thought, as stated in the blog, is that the very reason that celeb is being awarded jobs on TV series, films, commercials (on-camera or VO) etc. is because they are VERY TALENTED. They have worked hard for that level of success. Why should they have to reel in their potential to allow room for others to share in the pie?

    Show business is a tenuous business. Even for many celebrities, there is always competition. Once a certain status is attained, there is almost more pressure to sustain one’s position.

    I would suppose that the example of Jorja Fox (who, BTW, I have never heard of personally) is one that could be a case where in competition with other VO professionals in this particular audition…she WON the job! Whatever happened to just being able to win a job because you’re the BEST candidate? Celebrity status or no celebrity status??

    Does it seem greedy that Allison Janney would want to do VO for Kaiser Permanente, in addition to starring in her own CBS series, guest starring in other series, playing on Broadway, AND making movies. What nerve??!! right? Are we saying that she should recuse herself from legitimate work in her field of expertise (in addition to taking away revenue from her agents, managers, business team, etc. by removing herself from competition) because it’s not fair to someone else who hasn’t attained the same status? That’s the point of my position. She’s earned it. From her perspective, it seems not only fair, but well deserved.

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