When The Manure Hits The Fan

This is not a Voice Arts™ Award“This all may smell rotten to a European sensibility, but may we just stipulate that the Voice Arts™ Awards are not the Pulitzer Prize.”

“My personal take on it is if it’s important to you, participate. If it isn’t, ignore it. At first the whole thing just irritated me. I saw it as rather self-aggrandizing. Now I just don’t care.”

“I think the idea behind the awards was an excellent one and those involved at the top probably the best people to launch this endeavor. But it’s clear that, while a great deal is to be commended, some parts of the execution were a little creaky and need looking at.”

“I like the anonymity my job offers. I can go to a movie in peace, eat a restaurant in peace and not deal with stalkers. I quit theatrical work a long time ago because the wonderful world of VO and it’s people suited me better. I don’t see a point to a media event for awards in VO, unless it’s at a trade conference, presided over by our peers, and accessible to all VO pros, not just a few. This is the wrong business to get into if you want fame and fortune, and I like it that way.”

“This type of discussion is needed for the awards to have any chance of actually meaning something in the future. If we’re all “rah-rah for VO!!!”, and overlook the flaws in our own backyard, nobody else will respect us, or our craft. I’d rather have no award than one with so many obvious red flags in the process.”

“I’m reminded of naysayers early in mine and everybody else’s career who had nothing but negative things to say about anybody doing anything new or different. They are the people to avoid.”

“I don’t think one who criticizes or questions a promotion or event should be labeled a “naysayer.” Just like politics and everything else in life, people are going to have a variety of opinions and THAT is what keeps things interesting! When you’re as visible as Joan and Rudy are and you market something aggressively, you are always going to get a plethora of different opinions.”

“This so-called “expert” absolutely launched a personal attack upon all those who have taken a positive interest in the Voice Arts™ Awards, including its creators. And any idiot who doesn’t see that has his big fat empty head stuck in the sand. And now this character is pretending to be pleased with the reaction to his public editorial, as if he did it for the good of humanity. He is spewing his personal venom while hiding behind the mask of open debate.”

“It seems like a fairly small segment of the VO community stroking their own egos. If you pay your money, you get to be part of the club and get a little trophy that you can use to sell yourself when you start coaching and writing books.”

“I wonder how it must feel to have been awarded Saturday night only to have respected members of the community laugh in your face. To have people you admire nullify a very exciting night.”

“The Voice Arts™ Awards awards are good for voice-over, regardless, and should be encouraged as goals and standards that are possible.”

“You seem to be unusually fixated on trying to destroy something simply because it’s not your idea — because it outshines your banal rhetoric. Well, guess what? You’re maniacal envy is obvious to all, even the few pathetic cynics who might seem to come to your defense. Truth be told, you’re full of spite and envy. You’re blinded by ego and self-delusion. You are a sad man, full of rage and jealousy, and YOU KNOW IT. Honestly, you are completely irrelevant to the voiceover community and the only card you have left to play is to rail against that which is relevant.”

“This is a plain attack on all business people working hard and creating superior quality of a platform. It’s painful to see such ignorance displayed as opinion. I wouldn’t follow this man if the world was crashing around me.”

“That blog was not aiming to encourage discussion about the Awards, it wasn’t objective enough to even pass remotely close to that being it’s aim. I haven’t responded to the author because quite simply, I have better things to do and am not interested in being involved in a conversation that is negative from the off.”

“Don’t look for fair or perfection when it comes to honoring excellence. In the history of show business, it’s never been either and it never will. And a nomination/win doesn’t have to enhance your career. But it is a hellova lotta fun!!!!”


These are just a few of the hundreds of comments that came in, after last week’s story about the Voice Arts™ Awards (VAA). As I am typing these words, it has been read over 2,500 times. The follow-up entitled Party Pooper Unleashes Sh*tstorm, has so far attracted about 1,500 readers.

Colleague and VO business expert Tom Dheere suggested this discussion was perhaps an example of a Voice-Over Class Warfare between “blue-collar” voice talent and “white-collar” voice talent. Tom explains:

“Blue-collar” voice talents are part-time or full-time, primarily non-union, and have neither high-end agents nor regularly book national commercials. These types of voice talent tended to be anti-VAA.

White-collar” voice talents are full-time, in the union, have high-end agents, book nationally recognized VO work, and either coach, produce demos, or sell books & products catering to the voiceover industry, and either coach, produce demos, or sell books & products catering to the voiceover industry. These types of voice talent tended to be pro-VAA.”

Class warfare or not, I want to thank everyone for chiming in. We might not always be on the same page, but a spirited debate is a sign of an engaged community. 

As you know, blogs like mine are filled with opinion pieces. My articles are not an exercise in objective journalism. What surprised me though, is how certain people reacted to certain facts. Some said I hadn’t done my homework; that my research was all wrong. 

Well, it won’t surprise you that I disagree. This blog is widely read and talked about in the VO-community. It’s important to note that the information I presented was never challenged by anyone from the organization of these awards. 

Here’s what I believe to be undisputed:

Fact: I have no personal or professional ties to anyone within the organization of the Voice Arts™ Awards, or with any member of the jury. I am Facebook friends with some of them, but most of them I have never met or corresponded with.

Fact: At the moment, not every voice-over believes winning a Voice Arts™ Award is a credit worth having.

Fact: The number of entries was not disclosed, but it is safe to say that the pickings were slim this inaugural year.

Fact: The entry fees were substantial, and often non-refundable.

Fact: Some of the judges and members of the SOVAS™ board had personal and professional ties with nominees and contestants, posing a risk of a conflict of interest that could damage the integrity of the competition.

Fact: The VAA regulations as they are published, are not clear on how a potential conflict of interest should be handled.

Fact: Winners had to pay for their own statuette, unless the organization that had entered their submission picked up the tab.

Fact: The organization of the awards has yet to respond to anything that may be perceived as less than positive, whether on this blog or on other social media. 


I just learned that SOVAS™ board member Rudy Gaskins did comment on my story, so I stand corrected. One of my voice-over colleagues whom I shall name X, had shared on Facebook how disappointed he/she was in the way I had blogged about the awards. This is part of Mr. Gaskin’s response:

“X, you are a work of art and indeed a phoenix rising above the morass of resentful sentiments that swarm like angry hornets around the hive of one self-aggrandizing monarch who would proclaim himself the all-knowing purveyor of what is worthy of appreciation to the rest of us. (…) Fortunately, the male hornets are few and they have only one real role—mating with the queen. Males die soon after their sexual task is complete, so one can only imagine the frustration of the impotent male who neither mates nor dies but must suffer under the weight of his own crushing spite. (…) 

The intention of the article to which you refer was to hurt, not inform. Brush it off. With success and recognition comes the unfortunate trail of parasites who, lacking the erudition to create anything truly inspired, seek their sustenance from sucking the life blood of others. Burn them off and keep moving forward, my friend. Blogging is a curious proposition whereby any person, (known or unknown) can declare themselves worthy of attention and begin to gradually pick up unsuspecting followers by skimming the surface of a topic. Obviously, some bloggers are incredibly special, genius in fact, but there are many seeking to prop themselves up to sell bologna as 100% real beef. In fact, one of the cheapest marketing ploys of the past 10 years has been: 1) Start a blog 2) -Self-publish a book. 3) Proclaim to be an expert. 4) Sell merchandise.

As for the dying hornet to whose blog is referred to herein, we are, all of us, witnessing the depths and insidiousness of envy. It is a most vicious, volatile and relentless mindset that knows no bounds. And yet, assuming the blogger actually produces tangible work as a voice actor, producer, director, etc., he is welcome to submit his samples to the Voice Arts Awards and benefit from the extraordinary jurors who lend their highly vetted and respected expertise to determining the best of the best. Of course, to insure the integrity of the judging process, some jurors may be required to abstain from judging entries where a conflict of interest may be discerned.”


In Medieval times court jesters held privileges which were not given to many other persons at court. For one, they had freedom of speech. You’ll often see them depicted holding a mirror, to symbolize what many of them did.

While they were cracking jokes, they held up a mirror to the powers that be. Their mockery was a way to ridicule or denigrate a ruler, and to show the world that the emperor was wearing very little clothes. Today we have people like John Stewart, Steven Colbert, Bill Maher, and John Oliver doing the same thing to an audience of millions.

Some of my critics believe it was foolish of me to -as they said- “ridicule and denigrate” the Voice Arts™ Awards, the jurors, the organizers, and even the nominees and winners. What was I after? 

Let’s look at the meaning of these words. To ridicule means to make fun of someone or something in a cruel or harsh way. To denigrate means to attack the reputation of, or to deny the importance or validity of.

So, what about my motivation? Did I really have a dark, sinister urge to belittle this event, and those associated with it? Am I a jealous, ignorant, angry hornet, hoping to increase my readership by spewing lies?


In general, I write about things that interest me personally, and about topics that I feel are relevant to my readers. As I said last week:

“The only reason I’ve published a new blog post every week for the past four years, is not because I want people to agree with me, or to even like me. It is because I believe I have something to say that could be of interest and value to fellow-freelancers and voice-overs.”

These awards are indeed something new, and I wanted to examine the pros and cons of having a paid competition. That’s how I came to write my very first piece. Once the gala was over, I thought these awards deserved a deeper assessment, and that’s how I came to write a follow-up story.

You’ve probably noticed that most of the points I made in these articles had to do with the running of the competition. Many of the questions I asked were also in the minds of other colleagues. I just happened to be the one who wrote down what many others were thinking. 

It’s impossible to be objective about one’s own writing, but I can say that in none of the blog posts I have written about these awards, have I made fun of anyone or anything. Period. Perhaps my writing style is entertaining, but that’s one of the reasons people seem to enjoy my stories. I take it as a compliment. 

Did I attack the reputation of, or denied the importance or validity of, these awards? 

That’s hard to do, because these awards have no reputation. How could they? They’re brand new! I did question the importance of these awards for the same reason. It’s too early to tell whether or not winning a VAA is a credit worth having (and paying for). Not even the organizers could tell us that. As the last commentator said: 

“a nomination/win doesn’t have to enhance your career. But it is a hellova lotta fun!!!!”


I did point out that certain jurors and members of the board had personal and professional connections with other jurors, nominees, and winners. I put these connections under the banner of “Conflict Of Interest” because I believe that these connections -real or apparent- should not exist within a jury that is supposed to be neutral and objective.

This is not a strange requirement. One international piano competition has the following clauses in their 14-page jury manual:

“Should any member of the Applicant Screening Panel or First or Second Juries have or have had previously a professional or personal relationship with a pianist whose application or recorded or live performance he/she is judging, he/she must notify the Jury Facilitator prior to his/her respective stage of adjudication.”

“In a case where the relationship is or has been within the previous five years one of regular or occasional teacher and student, the Jury Facilitator must rule that the member may not vote on that pianist’s performance.”

“There will be no communication of any kind between jury members and Competition pianists until the announcement of the Laureate. (…)  Should a pianist attempt to communicate with a member of any jury, either during or prior to the announcement of the Laureate, said juror must inform the Jury Facilitator. The pianist in question may be subject to disqualification at the discretion of the Jury Facilitator.”

If my concerns rubbed some people the wrong way, they should talk to the organization about making the judging process more transparent, instead of pointing their arrows at the messenger. Perhaps judges from outside the close-knit voice-over community could be added. Perhaps the organization could learn from other competitions that have dealt with this issue for years.


At the end of the day, the Voice Arts™ Awards were devised to provide “international acknowledgement of the extraordinary skill and artistry that goes into voiceover acting and the associated roles, and to hold up a best-in-class standard of achievement to which the voiceover industry can continually aspire.”

That sounds like a noble objective, but as I said before, increased recognition and international acknowledgement can never be an aim in and of itself. What purpose should these awards ultimately serve? How exactly are they going to transform our industry for the better?

If it’s a matter of developing and promoting professional standards, I would turn to the World Voices Organization. If I wanted my performance to be evaluated by experts, I’d go to a few coaches. If I wanted to attract more clients, I would invest in increasing my skills, and in marketing my services.

Those who listen to my auditions are not going to hire me because I have a shiny statuette in my studio. They want to hear whether or not I have the right voice for the job. 

To me, “increased acknowledgment” is meaningless if it doesn’t lead to increased respect. I don’t mean increased respect from my peers, but from those who hire voice-overs.

The way we show respect for services rendered, is by paying the provider a decent amount of money. Unfortunately, every year I have been in this business, rates seem to go down instead of up. That too, is about competition.

For that type of competition I want to be ready, with or without these awards. 

How about you?

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Be sweet. Please retweet!

photo credit: kyle.wood via photopin cc

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs." goo.gl/ihVpMc

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Journalism & Media, Promotion

23 Responses to When The Manure Hits The Fan

  1. Pingback: My Best Year Ever | Nethervoice

  2. Tom Daniels

    I’ve seen several comments lately, back and forth among the organizers and committee members congratulating or “ConFlatulating” each other on their awards and accomplishments resulting from the self-created ceremony.

    For this type of thing to have credibility in the future, it needs to be judged by impartial but qualified individuals in a committee that is excluded from participating either directly or indirectly in the competition.

    They also need to incorporate a method of participating like the National Assoc. of Television Arts and Sciences or the Television Academy (I don’t remember which.), where there is an annual membership fee, however members can enter multiple categories at no charge to compete.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Tom, to take up your last point first: the organizers have created the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. Basic membership is $125. Platinum membership is $5,000. There are many levels in between.

    Of course everyone is free to come up with awards, and organize an event where these things are handed out. Some entrepreneurs run entire businesses devoted to the creation of awards used by employers to “incentivize” their workers. Internal competition boosts revenue.

    Contrary to semi-popular opinion, I have no bone to pick with the personalities behind these Voice Arts Awards, or with the nominees and winners. I just don’t feel that money should be an arbiter of talent, and I hope that more will be done to counter the impression of a potential conflict of interest when it comes to the jurors.


  3. Paul Garner

    Thanks, Paul. I have a feeling that comments about your articles on the awards will continue for a while, especially since it appears to be quite a sore spot for some. After things cool down a bit, perhaps further discussion will lead to positive changes for our industry. I always enjoy your thought-provoking blogs. Keep it up!


  4. Paul Garner

    Thanks again for the discussion. Also gotta agree with Debbie and others. Next topic please! Looking forward to it, as usual.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Paul, it’s amazing how quickly stories get old! I can assure you though, aside from a comment here or there, I am done with these awards. I have a feeling this may be mutual: they are done with me! Never in my entire life have I been the target of so much nasty name-calling by people presenting themselves as “positive.” It’s sad, really. Dr. Wayne Dyer once said:

    “What is inside comes out – squeeze a lemon, and you get lemon juice.”

    Well, I guess I squeezed a little bit in the past week, and look what happened…

    I must admit that I didn’t quite get all of Steven’s comments he made on my article “Paying For Your Prize.” It’s clear that he doesn’t believe that awards must have value. Awards are marketing and networking opportunities, he says. A good excuse to have a party. I have been attacked by those who say I shouldn’t have minimized the inherent value of these awards. It wasn’t nice to the organization, the jurors, the nominees and the winners. On the other hand he says that trophies “serve as symbols of accomplishment.”

    Steven also wrote: “But I won’t crap on anyone for finding a way to make themselves and others smile, especially if 13000-16000 people online see it as “positive”.”

    I don’t know if he’s directing his arrows at me and/or at other commentators. Anyhow, I am offended by the notion that asking questions about these awards, and pointing out procedures that are in need of improvement, equals crapping on people. Let’s keep it professional. I believe a very public event can stand up to public scrutiny, and I am not alone in thinking that.

    While I realize that it is expensive to organize a competition, I also think it is irrelevant how much time and money the organizers spent on these awards. It was their show, and they are known to be very business-savvy. No one questions the amount of money spent on the Oscars or the Emmys. It’s not the intention that is evaluated, but the end result.

    Steven wrote:

    “This should be a fun industry. It’s bigger than anyone here. Don’t take it so seriously.”

    I can honestly say that I love being a voice-over, but to me this isn’t always a fun industry. So many dear and talented colleagues are struggling. Some of them wish they had the money to enter a competition like the Voice Arts Awards, but they can’t afford it.

    While the cost of living goes up every year, I see rates go down. Clients reap the rewards of a dog-eat-dog culture where survival of the cheapest is hailed as the marvelous result of a free market. This is not only a symptom of the American scene. This is a global phenomenon.

    Throwing ourselves a big party may be smart marketing, but it’s not going to fix anything. Once the buzz wears off and the limelight has dimmed, most of us will realize that talk is getting cheaper and cheaper by the day. But hey, these are just the thoughts of a

    “parasite who, lacking the erudition to create anything truly inspired, seek their sustenance from sucking the life blood of others” with a “most vicious, volatile and relentless mindset that knows no bounds.”


  5. Philip Banks

    “But make sure you give others the opportunity to party even when you’d rather pretend they didn’t exist.”

    Well I know where I’d spend my money. By you, I meant “reader and party goer” and by “others” I meant our friends in Mumbai.

    On the subject of the down trodden of the east some clothing factory workers in Bangladesh have formed a rock band to do benefit gigs. They’ve heard about the hours, pay and working conditions of audio book narrators in the USA and felt they ought to make a stand. Heart warming gesture!

    Kittens? Who needs ’em! Fluffy, milk stealing little screechy things. Can’t do taxes, won’t help moving pianos …Useless.


  6. Philip Banks

    As someone who is universally hated in the Voice Over community, eats babies and burns kittens I feel I ought to express an opinion.

    Here it is –

    If you are not a VO Cheerleader you will get jumped on frequently. If you ask targeted questions you will get jumped on frequently. If you make a joke the people who think its about them will jump on you frequently. If you are secure in who you are and what you do then people who aren’t will jump on you frequently.

    Few things in life are less important than what voice over people do or think.

    Exactly one year ago I was in India with my lovely friend and VO colleague Elisa Canas. Apart from having a thoroughly lovely time we were there to take gifts and a donation to a charity. The charity concerned rescued girl who were about to be sold or in some cases had already been sold but were awaiting collection. They were to be trafficked and then …you really do not want to think about it.

    Here’s the point in all the noise. Voice Over work enabled me and Elisa to go somewhere and do something. VO awards give people the chance to party ..Fabby! Enjoy. But make sure you give others the opportunity to party even when you’d rather pretend they didn’t exist.

    See, you can always rely on me to be completely irrelevant.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud, Philip. I can always count on you for that! You made a good point demonstrating that voice-overs is just a means to an end. In your case it is a means to contribute to a charity in India. That’s not bad for someone who eats babies and burns kittens!

    I don’t deny people the opportunity to party. The competition, as well as the party following it, is a means to an end. Thousands of dollars were invested in this event. The question is this: What is the real value of this undertaking? If that’s not being answered clearly, perhaps it would have been better to spend all this money on saving rescued girls in India.


  7. Tom Test

    Hi Paul,

    I have enormous respect for you, and love your blog. Honestly, I have not read your original post, nor more than a handful of the comments. I don’t care very much about this issue, frankly. Why am I bothering to type this? Well I wonder if I might have some insight as to why this was important enough to you to write about in the first place.

    That is, I wonder if your objection to this is a cultural issue. My understanding of Europeans compared to Americans, is that Europeans tend to be much more modest than Americans are, and can be offended by our sometimes boastful nature. (When I realized this fact after interviewing Armin Heirstetter, the founder of bodalgo.,com, I actually re-wrote my marketing materials for clients/contact who are not American).

    I think this awards program offends your sensibilities because of the cultural norms you were born into. And those cultural norms are no better or worse than American cultural norms, in my opinion – they are simply different.

    So for those who ascribe all sorts of nasty motivations for you to be against the concept of this awards program, I think they misunderstand and therefore misjudge you. On the other hand, I wonder if you had not taken into account your own cultural tendencies when you wrote your original post.

    Best regards,
    Tom Test


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Hey Tom, thanks for an interesting observation! I believe I already explained my motivation for writing about these awards. In my very first piece “The Voice Arts Awards, The New Pay To Play,” I share my reservations about competitions in general. I don’t see those reservations as typically European. There are many, many competitions all over Europe, and we too have festivals were awards are given out. Think about the Cannes Film Festival, for instance.

    I accept that the need for public acknowledgement is human. I also accept that some people need it more than others.

    What I hope is that my readers will evaluate my stories based on the strength of the arguments I’m making, and not based on some presumed cultural divide.


  8. Pingback: Party Pooper Unleashes Sh*tstorm | Nethervoice

  9. MCarta

    Geez, I’m arriving late to the dance. Blue-collar/white-collar VO talent (?) I had no idea. Thank you Paul for your full-length article and JS I agree. What’s been said/commented on whether good, bad or indifferent leaves me with nothing to ad except being a blue collar VO, “Just ain’t that bad”. Proud to be one with plenty of national spots and network credits.


  10. Kitzie Stern

    I agree with Debbie’s comments, and we should move on. Paul, I again admire your courage in holding up the mirror, your posts have pulled a lot of us out of stealth mode. My final thoughts — there are lots of positives here, and if the organizers could be less defensive perhaps they’ll learn something from the community they’re trying to serve.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Oh boy, do I understand your desire to move on from this topic! I nearly made that decision myself, but then I re-read most of the comments, text messages and emails I have received in the past week. Some were really good and to the point. Others were really ugly and very personal. I decided that I would give myself one more chance to tackle the topic before letting it go.

    As you have noticed, my critics are trying to make a professional issue personal. That way, they don’t have to answer questions about the running of the awards. They can just blame me, and move on. It’s an old tactic, and I am not impressed. I’m actually surprised that so many intelligent people are falling for it.

    Let me stress again: I have no bone to pick with any of the winners. They obviously believe their trophy has value, otherwise they wouldn’t have taken part. As far as I’m concerned, they can simply ignore my blog and continue to work on their careers.

    For many others in the VO community, this new award still has to prove itself. If that perspective hurts people’s feelings, it is indicative of another element I touched upon in my writings: the fragile egos involved.


  11. Alan Curry

    I’ve only just caught up with these most recent blogs Paul and to be honest, I’m not at all surprised by some of the comments. There exists in this industry a level of narcissism and pomposity unequalled in any other profession. Earlier this year I removed myself from a number of FB VO groups because I simply couldn’t stomach any more of the rampant cronyism and arrogance of the mutual admiration society, epitomised by events such as these awards. For the record, I agree with you 100% and continue to hold you in the highest regard as an industry professional. I’m appalled by the blatant and veiled personal attacks to which you’ve been subjected. I applaud the dignity with which you carry yourself by refusing to engage with the xenophobic vitriol spewed forth by Jackie and her ilk which merely shows them up for the ignorant fools they are. Perhaps now would be an appropriate time to clarify that Dutch people hail from The Netherlands, not Norway.


  12. J S gilbert

    I would strongly disagree with a statement that made an observation, “Blue-collar” voice talents are part-time or full-time, primarily non-union, and have neither high-end agents nor regularly book national commercials. These types of voice talent tended to be anti-VAA.

    White-collar” voice talents are full-time, in the union, have high-end agents, book nationally recognized VO work, and either coach, produce demos, or sell books & products catering to the voiceover industry, and either coach, produce demos, or sell books & products catering to the voiceover industry. These types of voice talent tended to be pro-VAA.”

    This is a complete fabrication.

    It would seem that with the exception of a few people on either side of this fence, it was pretty much only the “Blue Collar” v.o. talent that expressed any real interest at all.

    The only people interested in the awards program were individuals in the early/ beginner stages of voice over and a select group of professional voice talent that have personal and or deep professional relationships with Mr. Gaskin and his camp. This may extend to a small band of producers, teachers, directors, etc.

    The bulk of professional actors, whether union or non-union, tended to ignore the awards program. In fact, I would say that the largest segment had no idea it existed. I would also go so far as to say that 95% of the individuals who hire talent or cast had little to no interest in this event or its outcome. (The exception being the group of people who looked at it as many of us might look at a car accident when driving down the freeway).

    The hiring of voice talent has never been, nor will it ever be predicated on some award. Processes simply don’t support it. As for what may be seen as niche markets, such as audio book awards, this only backs up my rationale about:

    1. A group or general consensus regarding the structure and recognition of achievement.

    2. That there is no voice over industry. There are many, many industries for which voice over actors may contract. Each has very different needs and criteria. This is why awards programs like Spike or the Game Developers Conference, which focus on Video Games, and include awards for voice over (voice over is only one of many categories) seem to work well. Again, a consensus of individuals from the very specific world of video games has been sanctioned by the bulk of the community in its task.

    The truth is that most working voice talent are “working” and few if any want to have any of their processes disrupted by a small band of individuals whose true agenda is world domination of voice over.


  13. Kent Ingram

    Paul, perhaps it’s just human nature to unleash venom, when one’s apple cart is going to be turned over. Or, if one doesn’t have a cogent point to make, then a personal attack happens, to cover one’s tracks and lack of argument. Whatever it is, the most vitriolic and venomous attackers (notice I didn’t use the word “critics”) employ some of those tactics. Instead of taking a step back, taking a deep breath, they immediately launch into an all-out assault on your character and credentials. I’ve admitted I may have an underlying envy for those who get recognized in an awards setting, but I got over it, when I looked at reality. Therefore, I can look at this awards show objectively and I find that appearances count for everything, sometimes. In this instance, there’s an APPEARANCE of a conflict of interest and it is, indeed, a private “club” that you must pay into, to join. I don’t have any malice or jealousy toward those who are in that club, as I have far more important things to do in my life and career. I’ll be among your ardent, enthusiastic supporters, because you’ve helped me out a great deal the last couple of years, when things were going downhill, fast.


  14. Paul Payton

    From the article:

    > Colleague and VO business expert Tom Dheere suggested this discussion was perhaps an example of a Voice-Over Class Warfare between “blue-collar” voice talent and “white-collar” voice talent. <

    Tom is one of my most respected friends in the business, but I must disagree regarding class warfare. I say this as a full-time pro for 25 years (a good number of them in the six-figure range – not to brag, but to qualify myself). Yet I have never been signed or deeply involved in VO fraternal groups (until I discovered the incredible Faffcon, but that's a different discussion). I have never thought about the color of my collar and I don't think it's relevant to this discussion. Behind the mike, I can sound like a thousand dollar suit wearing a T-shirt and jeans (and, of course, vice versa).

    I also don't know many if any of the SOVAS people or personalities, so I have no dog in this fight – except the hound of honesty, which is what concerns me here.

    In the US legal system, a judge with ties too close to a case recuses him or herself. From what I have read here at all point along the issue's spectrum, if this competition met that standard, there would be barely enough participants to stuff a booth in a diner.

    Personally, I feel that if a competition cannot meet a thoroughly impartial threshold, it is of negligible professional value. It may have ego value, but that is in the eye of the beholder. My personal option is to accept the "award" of repeat business. It's nice to win something, but no award ever paid my mortgage nor cause a client to hire me.

    Paul, I admire your courage, thoughtfulness and honesty in covering this issue. I don't believe there is malice on anyone's part (well, maybe the person who accused you of "banal rhetoric," an assessment with which I strongly disagree). I hope the SOVAS awards can evolve into something more meaningful; but for now, it looks an awful lot like pay-to-play (and like what politics in America sadly is becoming). VO is one arena in which I have only paid for services rendered (to agents, teachers, suppliers/providers, etc.), and I hope to continue in that honest manner for years to come.

    I wish only the best of luck and success to everyone. There is always room for good people in our business, no matter what's on their mantle.


  15. Rosemary Benson

    I am mystified by the vitriolic responses. There have never been any attacks or “personal venom” in your articles. I question the criteria by which I am judged an “idiot” if I disagree with someone. My head is not empty; it contains questions and judgements based on facts. And if the opinions I form based on those differ from others’, I see no need for name-calling.


  16. Bill Brewer

    As usual Paul, You speak my language. I so appreciate your ability to paint meaningful word pictures that speak to me. Don’t let the boo birds get to you. They are the ones who spent the money and didn’t get to bring a graven image home. When one creates his own organization so he/she can be saluted it leaves me cold.


  17. Debbie Grattan

    I just hope everyone is ready to put this one to bed. Personally, I feel like plenty has been said. I do find it odd that the organizers themselves have been silent during this discussion (save for “Jackie!”) so in my mind, that’s a bit of a red flag. Or maybe they just feel it’s safer/better NOT to get caught up in this type of critique. I don’t think that strategy is working so well for Bill Cosby, (the silence on the sexual assault allegations) but to each his own.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I have to agree, Debbie. After reviewing all the comments, I just felt that I had to answer my critics one more time to set the record straight. It’s up to the organizers to benefit from all the feedback, and make some necessary changes. Like you, I’m ready to move on.


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