They were all using the same Voice Arts approved graphics, so nobody stood out. Now, isn’t the whole point of being nominated that you’re supposed to…. stand out? Isn’t the point that you distinguish yourself from the commoners, the unwashed masses, who aren’t quite up to your impressive level of magnificence?
Let’s remember that most of the nominees submitted themselves. I said submitted, not nominated. A single entry for non-SOVAS members is $140 going up to $170 (companies pay more, and there are no cash refunds). And have you seen the list of nominees? It’s longer than a Tolstoy novel! This year we have nominees from Japan and Arabic countries joining us. The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences must be doing well for a charity running a competition that’s still without a conflict of interest policy.
“But Paul,” I can hear you say, “organizing these awards costs a lot of money.”
Then why can the One Voice Awards do the same thing for free? In both competitions the judges are unpaid volunteers. Only at One Voice they’re kept secret until the winners have been announced to make sure they’re not being influenced. Yes, I’m sure there’s a lot of admin involved, but where’s all the money going?
“It’s going to the awards gala, Paul” you say. Oh, you mean the gala everyone is paying for to attend ($475 for non-members)? Yeah, that makes total sense. One Voice has a gala too. You only pay for your dinner.
“Well, these golden statues cost a lot too, Paul. You’ve got to factor that in.”
Are you referring to that shiny award every winner is paying for out of pocket? Last time I checked they were charging $355 per trophy, and it didn’t include a handling fee. You better not win multiple awards, or it’s going to cost you a fortune. Again, at the One Voice Awards no one is paying for their prize. It’s free so money is no arbiter of talent.
Let’s add everything up, shall we?
“But Paul, it’s a business expense. Being nominated and perhaps winning is such good exposure.”
With everybody congratulating themselves for being nominated on the same day using the same social media platform… that’s really going to help you make your mark. I totally get that. But don’t think that during that glamorous awards gala you get to go on stage and thank God, and Joan and Rudy in your acceptance speech (Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins).
With so many winners in so many categories, the evening would never end. No, only the celebrities and big shots get to go on stage. You know, VIP’s who have been lured to the event to accept an award they had never even heard of. But it’s always nice to say that you were in the presence of Viola Davis or James Earl Jones. It gives these awards more credibility and photo ops. If you are what I call, one of the “regular winners,” don’t expect to be invited to the stage. You’re not important enough. You’re lucky if the emcee knows how to pronounce your name correctly.
And by the way, do you honestly think they let Viola Davis pay for her award?
“But Mr. Strikwerda, people pay for the Oscars too. That’s normal in this business.”
If winning a Voice Arts Award would mean as much for my career as winning an Oscar, I’d enter the competition yesterday. But let’s not kid ourselves. Just because they try to make it look like a duck, doesn’t mean it is a duck. And I think that the big Hollywood studios and all the A-list actors have a little bit more money to spend than the average voice actor.
Here’s another question for you. Who gets to pick all the languages that can compete, and all the categories? Why Portuguese and Spanish, but not French or German? And why is there a prize for the best podcast, but not for the best voice over blog? We have way more bloggers than podcasters in voice over land.
“Oh, Paul… stop it already with the negativity. You’re just jealous you didn’t get a nomination.”
That’s right. I didn’t get a nomination because I would never pay money to submit anything. In fact, I would never enter any competition. As the composer Bela Bartok famously said: “Competitions are for horses, not for artists.” I’m just not a very competitive person and I don’t need the exposure. The only competition I take part in is called “doing auditions.” Every new client I book is worth more to me than a gold plated statue.
I have spoken to a number of winners for my blog, and none of them could offer any concrete proof that winning a prize no client had ever heard of, had propelled their career to a new level. Clients hire the best voice for their campaign based on a demo or an audition, and not based on a nomination or award. If anything, they may think you’re too expensive because you’re an award-winning artist.
Here’s a comment I recently received on Facebook after I pointed out that Rudy Gaskins had used an old image of Meryl Streep to suggest he had had a zoom meeting with her to celebrate her VAA nomination. You’ll find screen shots at the end of this story.
Here’s a comment I recently received on Facebook:
As you can see, people who seem to be loyal to J & R have called me a racist. Behind my back and in emails. So, am I a racist, or am I perhaps motivated by other things?
Remember, I used to be a broadcast journalist, and journalists are skeptical by nature. They question everything. The good and the bad. That doesn’t mean I have anything against Joan or Rudy. I have never met them and I probably never will. I am nothing but a person with an opinion who knows a little bit about the business. I would never ask you to agree with me. I want you to make up your own mind. If you believe that submitting for an award offers good return on investment, don’t let me stop you!
All of the above doesn’t mean that I’m not happy for you if you have been nominated or have won in previous years. I hope it gives you the acknowledgement, validation, and respect you’re longing for, and that winning a prize will make you rich and famous. And I also hope that you will stay humble, and understand that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t win.
It doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It just means that a very small and select group of subjective judges thought someone else was slightly better.
Just try again next year!
Start saving up today.
To quote Steve Jobs and Tim Cook: “There’s one more thing….”
Colleagues of mine told me that Rudy Gaskins made it look like he and Meryl Streep were on a Zoom call together, celebrating her nomination. As you can see below, that photo was taken during a pandemic performance when Streep and two friends saluted Stephen Sondheim. I’m a huge Sondheim fan, and I remember that performance very well.
I don’t like it when voices are stolen, and I don’t like it when pictures are stolen and used to suggest something that never happened. It’s unethical and misleading.
Here’s Rudy’s “collage,” followed by the original photo he used: