Would you betray your pacifist principles and record a promotional video for land mines?
Would you flirt with the casting director?
Would you badmouth a colleague in the hopes of improving your odds?
As soon as money is involved, people are prepared to sell their dignity and self-respect to the highest bidder. It’s Survival of the Slickest, and every person for him or herself. After all, the economy sucks, and it ain’t getting better any time soon. Thank you COVID.
If it’s a choice between you and me, my friend, it better be me!
In an attempt to break into the business or simply stay afloat, people even start sinning against the Ninth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. What do they tell you in this business?
If you can’t make it, just fake it!
That’s why the almighty Internet is inundated with pretenders, posers, anonymous commentators, and self-styled experts. In this day and age where the latest is the greatest, nobody bothers to fact-check anymore. It’s the ideal opportunity to be whoever you say you are. No questions asked. It’s in black and white. That means it’s reliable, right?
Now, don’t believe for one second that the people in our community are holier than the Pope. They are not. Some of them are spinning a world wide web of lies. Of course they don’t call it that. They see it as innocent embellishments of the truth. The means justify the ends. Meanwhile, they are walking around with their pants on fire.
Here’s my Top 10 of the most common lies people tell to get ahead as a voice talent:
Lie: “With years of experience under her belt, Carla can handle almost any project.”
Truth: Carla has been at it for five months. Part-time, that is.
2. Training & Coaching
Lie: “Roger has studied with some of the world’s best voice over coaches.”
Truth: He took an introductory course at the local community college.
Lie: “John has recorded voice-overs for some of the biggest names in business.”
Truth: John wishes he had recorded voice-overs for some of the biggest names in business.
Lie: “Peter exclusively uses his trusted Neumann U87, arguably the best known and most widely used studio microphone in the world.”
Truth: Peter doesn’t even know how to correctly pronounce the name Neumann. He is the proud owner of a USB mic he found on eBay for $65, and he foolishly thinks people can’t tell the difference.
5. Home studio
Lie: “Heather records her voice overs in her professional studio, guaranteeing you the highest audio quality possible.”
Truth: Heather hides inside a bedroom closet and she has no idea why this mattress foam won’t keep the noise out. She wonders: “Should I have used egg crates instead?”
Lie: Listening to his samples, it sounds like Thomas really voiced those national campaigns, doesn’t it?
Truth: Thomas stole scripts from projects he never even auditioned for. An audio engineer friend helped him add some music to make it sound real.
7a. Languages and accents
Lie: “Jerome speaks Dutch and is available for your eLearning projects.”
Truth: Jerome was born, raised, and educated in Flanders (Belgium) and speaks Flemish. Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands and Flemish are just as different as American and British English. Substitute Dutch and Flemish for other languages and accents to expose other actors.
7b. Native speakers
Lie: “Maria was born and raised in Germany and speaks ‘Hochdeutsch’ or Standard German.”
Truth: Maria moved to the U.S. when she was seventeen. Thirty years later she stills lives in Dallas. Ever heard a German with a Texas twang? She’s counting on the fact that her American clients won’t have a clue her German pronunciation is off.
Lie: “Jennifer was a delight to work with. Our company would not hesitate to hire her again.”
Truth: Jennifer never worked for that company, and she penned this endorsement herself.
9. Head shots
Lie: We see a young, smiling face, staring confidently into the camera.
Truth: After fifteen years, Harry doesn’t look like his old headshot anymore. He’s become bitter, and he sounds like it. There’s nothing wrong with using headshots, but as a rule they should be current, whether you work on camera, or off.
10. Believing that you won’t get caught
It’s simple. People with real credentials have real experience and a real portfolio. They don’t have to hide behind vague descriptions and false advertising. The truth will always come out, and when it does, it will damage a career that never was and probably never will be.
SPOTTING THE ROTTEN APPLE
You don’t have to be a detective to find the fakers. Liars usually do a great job exposing themselves. I was emailing one of my colleagues the other day, and he shared the following story with me:
“I’ve read your blogs regarding people that want to be a voiceover talent with interest. I have some ideas on people that are “posing” as voiceover talent and how to spot them immediately.
For example: a young lady recently posted on a LinkedIn forum complaining that she wasn’t being hired via sites like voices.com and how obviously the system was flawed, and that was the reason she wasn’t getting work.
I visited her website to find that (through the placement of national logos for Burger King and Nissan) she had implicated that she’d done voiceover work for national companies.
When I listened to her demo it was apparent that she had nowhere near the skill level of a national voice talent.
Furthermore – on her website there was a mention of a client that she claimed as her client, when in fact, it had been MY client for more than four years. A quick check with producers led me to find that this person had never worked with that company.
In short, she wasn’t getting work because she sucked as a “talent”. And yet, she couldn’t hear this, and was angry with the world because she wasn’t getting work.
What are these people thinking? Do they really believe they can fool an experienced producer or Creative Service Director?”
ACTORS ARE LIARS
People in our profession have a strange relationship with the truth. We get paid to pretend. Get this. The most convincing liars get the fattest paychecks, an Oscar, and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
However, true talent, trust, and integrity are the cornerstones of a successful career.
Trust must be earned.
True talent and integrity can never be faked.
Ain’t that the truth?