Over the past few weeks, the United States (followed by the World) has endured an onslaught of race relations issues. The voice-over community has not been immune. Allegations of disparities in hiring ethnic voice actors have also come to light. The COVID-19 pandemic is the backdrop for today’s increased anxiety and mental strain. As such, coping with the changing economic landscape, human understanding, and addressing of contemporary ethnic issues are more challenging than ever. But this time can also uncover new possibilities for voice seekers and talents in many genres. Take hope and know that voices of color are ready and available for hire.
As a voice actor of color, I see some of the recent tensions in a different light. For the first time, many voice producers are becoming aware of possible unknown disparities or biases.
As such, I see this as a way for some to build new connections with voice casters and producers who may not have previously considered minority actors for their projects. This may be a great time to make a positive step forward toward developing new relationships in the voice acting world.
We See What We Want To See
We know there have been issues. I’ve known what it’s like to feel the challenge of convincing voice casters to consider minority voice actors like me. Furthermore, I’ve seen eLearning, audiobook, and other projects for general audiences routinely cast outside of the minority voice-over community. Last of all, I’ve even heard autobiographies of famous African Americans voiced by sound alike, non-African Americans.
Sure, there are actors like Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and others, but the list of minority voice-over actors is a long one. Today’s voice casters have many fine actor choices who are excellent performers just waiting to be considered.
I believe most of the current disparities are the result of people doing business with those they know, are familiar with, and are within their communities. Dr. Pragya Agarwal sheds light on this in her Forbes, December 3, 2018, on-line article. In Unconscious Bias: How It Affects Us More Than We Know, Dr. Agarwal writes, “confirmation bias is, where people are more likely to choose or associate positive qualities to people who look or sound or seem more like themselves or belong to the same social and ethnic group as their own.” This is human nature; we are all human. So, lets consider varying our habits.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Ready and Available Talent
As society seeks to heal human biases, this time may present significant opportunities for actors of color. As more producers broaden their talent potentials, minority voice actors should be ready to show their stuff. One of the most remarkable points to be known for is as a business professional who gets it done. All voice actors, regardless of ethnicity, should seek to show up and work their business with pride and excellence.
As voice seekers look to expand and broaden their pool of talent, this is an opportunity for all voice artists to put their best foot forward. Let’s remember the basics:
- Know your niche
- Deliver what you promised on time (early)
- Make sure you have a quality home studio
- Develop necessary home audio skills (editing, processing, etc.)
- Have a current functional website
- Continue training
- Keep your web presence postings positive and uplifting
Practicing these good basics and continuing to do your best for your currents and future clients will help you reach the success you want to achieve.
We Are the (Voiceover) World
We all want to be seen as equals. Still, the World will never be fair. Sometimes you will lose, be left out, dropped, and passed over. You will suffer losses and biases. Sometimes you will have to change your approach and find another way around and to win. That’s the game of life.
As I’ve said before, our time on Earth is too short to let the “bobbed wire” of life keep us from continuing our journey to success. It’s still about building relationships. As our communities seek to heal and rebuild, we can all work together to produce awesome new projects, opportunities, and better relationships.
Together, we can break that lip!