Because people tend to have strong beliefs around these topics, and you don’t want to mess with these beliefs.
But you know me. I can’t keep my big mouth shut, so you have heard me discuss rates and money on this blog.
I usually preface those blog posts with a comment like:
“This is my personal OPINION. I don’t care if you agree with me or not. Please think about what I have to say, and make up your own mind.”
Today I’m going to talk about the use of religion in self-promotion, and whether or not I think it’s appropriate. Who am I to bring this up? Well, in a previous job I used to be a religious affairs correspondent. I’m the son of a Protestant minister, I sang plainchant for Pope John Paul II, and later in life I became Jewish. I think I know a thing or two about religion.
The reason I’m writing about it today, is a Facebook post from a voice over agent that read:
“God is the ultimate casting director. I truly believe that God knows who will fit each role I am casting and my prayer is that He will reveal them to me.”
The theological problem I have with this post is that I don’t believe that beings as limited as humans are able to even imagine what a limitless entity such as what we call God, can or cannot do. How presumptuous of us to assume what “He” will reveal. I don’t even believe God is a “He.”
Mind you, this says way more about my personal belief than about anything or anyone else. But here’s the thing. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, doesn’t “He” have better things to do than choose who’s the best fit for a bathroom tissue commercial? Shouldn’t “He” be doing something about the war in Ukraine or about global warming? Or better still, didn’t “He” create us with the ability to take care of business without His divine intervention?
Can we even state with absolute certainty that God is speaking through us? Some psychiatrists might dismiss these heavenly whispers as “auditory hallucinations.” And what are the practical implications?
Let’s assume there’s this fundamentalist Christian casting director who believes homosexuality is a sin. Will God mysteriously direct her not to cast gay talent? People have done worse things in the name of religious freedom.
Regardless of our beliefs, I think we should be very careful about invoking the name of God when we present and promote ourselves to the general public and potential clients.
I don’t advertise myself as a Republican or Democratic voice over either. It may deter clients who do not share my beliefs or political affiliations, and it’s usually irrelevant to the job.
MY FIRST EDICT
So, let me issue my first Commandment:
“Thou shalt not use the Lord’s name for purposes of self-promotion.”
I mean, what does the fact that you, quote: “Love Jesus” have to do with your voice over business? Unless you are solely marketing to certain Christian organizations, it is utterly insignificant. I say “certain Christian organizations” because I never hear Roman Catholics talk about God as their co-pilot.
Invoking a higher power may very well work against you. A casting director commented:
“I’ve gotten some of the cringiest auditions from voice actors who in their cover letters talk about how they “want to use their God-given talent for His glory” or some other gag-inducing, self-righteous reason like that. What’s worse was how bad their auditions were.”
Smart marketing means you use relevant and pertinent information to convince the client that you are a good fit. So, when a client is looking for someone from Northern Europe, I’ll mention that I was born in the Netherlands. However, if they want someone with a neutral English accent I won’t mention it, because they might think I have a thick Dutch twang.
USING RELIGION ON PURPOSE
The very first audio book I ever recorded (a historical novel), was by a conservative Catholic author. It was set in Europe, and it was all about church and religion. In the message that accompanied my audition, I mentioned my history of singing plainchant, and performing at the opening of the Papal Academy of Sacred Music, in the presence of Pope John Paul II.
This immediately resonated with the writer, and it landed me the job. Another book I recorded had strong Jewish elements and quotes in Hebrew, so I highlighted the fact that I belonged to a conservative synagogue (a denomination I knew the author belonged to as well).
The key is to always do your homework, and present your proposal in such a way and with such language that you gain the client’s trust. People like to be understood, and like to work with likeminded people.
Those are the only instances where I have ever referred to my faith, and only because it was relevant and it made me stand out from other narrators.
In all other cases I believe we should not mix advertising with evangelizing.
Remember: what is close to your heart may be offensive to other people. You want to present yourself as a good match, and if your religious beliefs do not jive with that of the client, it may cost you the job.
Of course I respect your convictions, but when promoting yourself, please keep the sacred and secular separate!