Conflicts In The Voice Over Profession

Was there an assignment you had to turn down because the content went against what you believe in or your principles? Or when people recognize your voice in an ad and ask if it’s you – can you say or keep mum about it?

It is not unheard of for voice artists to turn down an assignment or ask for revision of script when something about it makes them uncomfortable being the voice for and can be presented as a conflict of interest. In a way, voiceover for a project, a brand, an organization or a company is representing them – even when a disclaimer has been established. Public perception cannot be fully controlled and we learn that reputations while so hard to build can still be so fragile.  It’s a sticky subject as well know but how many would provide voiceover for politics unless the subject is something we personally believe in? Or religion? Or charity, or a cause and anything else for that matter?  It’s all well and good if the project goes well and its reception among the public audience is positive.  But what if it bombs?

Say a voice actor did a voiceover job for a product that was misrepresented by the company, or did a voiceover job for a political party which everyone disagrees with, or recorded religious material that everyone disagrees with as well?

Voiceover actor Andrew MacRae has had a similar incident like this and it was not even his voice that did the voiceover. MacRae was wrongly accused by social media of being a “Turnbull stooge” as they thought he did the voiceover for a 30-second advertisement released by the Liberal campaign. So we now see the actor telling everyone over Twitter that it wasn’t him on the ad as detailed in an article by the Daily Mail Australia by Daniel Piotrowski and Rachel Eddie, June 20, 2016.

thoughtsOn a completely different angle is a case of the company versus a voiceover artists because he let some people know he was the voice. That’s the big company, Apple and Jon Briggs. The Financial Times published the article online back in February 12, 2015, written by Emma Jacobs. The article said that “the 50-year-old’s voice was dropped by Apple three years ago after he disclosed that he was the person behind the UK version of Siri.” And Mr. Briggs was quoted as saying, “Apple got upset but if [it is] going to put you in the pocket of millions of people how can they not expect you to reply when they ask, ‘Is it you?’ Other people recognised me . . . It’s an act of complete imbecility not to think someone would recognise you.” The company might be a whizz with technology and design, says Mr Briggs, who is also a broadcast journalist and presenter, but they are “not very good with people”. The same article went on to mention that the voice actor, who is also a broadcast journalist and presenter, did not sign a contract with Apple.

That would be key, it would be a different story if a contract was signed then we wouldn’t be hearing about it. A lawsuit is a strong motivation to decline to answer one’s friend when they ask if that was your voice they just heard on TV. Voice actors take on the character or persona of another entity and for some creations – voice actors are forbidden from divulging they are behind the voice. It’s like parents agreeing to not tell their kids the truth about Santa Claus (that he does not exist) until a certain age.

No what about the Korean female voice artist, Jayeon Kim, fired for wearing a shirt and posting a picture of herself wearing the shirt on Instagram?  The shirt said “Girls do not need a prince.”  Perhaps because of their culture but apparently this was a statement misconstrued and taken out of context and seen as especially offensive so much so that Nexon, the gaming company she was working for, fired her.  It’s been a few days since that incident in South Korea and around the world, no one completely understands – why the reaction?

And yet another example is voice actor Charlotte Carr as mentioned in an article featured by The Voice Herald, “the wellness advocate can often be quoted on her blog site as focusing on fresh and organic produce. “No numbers, no additives. Just real food!” This though, is a stark contrast to her choice of clients when it comes to her voiceover career.  Carr moonlights as the voice behind adverts for KFC, Diet Coke, Uncle Toby’s, Cadbury and Cherry Ripe.” Can it be just work for a voice over actor?  Aren’t actors supposed to be convincing even when it’s not something they stand for therefore the title ‘actor’?

Going back to the case of ‘Fake Tradie’ – what if it was MacRae’s voice and it was just a job to him (just to be clear it has already been established it wasn’t him)? Like reading adult content or the like and getting shunned for it? Would it be called fair?

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