Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

To Thine Own Self Be True

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

October 27, 2011

Comments (38)

A child standing on a diving board about to jump offMany people tend to separate their work from their personal life and guiding principles in the name of acting.

Does the art of "acting" excuse compromising on morals or violating personal beliefs?

Acting doesn't have to mean leaving your morals at the door...in fact, acting can mean bringing them through the door and into the studio.

Read more in today's VOX Daily.

Does Acting Excuse Hypocrisy?

I happened to see a conversation online at Facebook about whether or not someone should take a voice over job for something that they were sitting on the fence about. The individual was conflicted because while they felt the work was questionable, their need for the money the work would provide was not at all in question.

After reading through the comments, many of which were differing in opinion, it occurred to me that this is a relevant topic for everyone regardless of a project's genre or purpose and that the topic warrants further discussion.

What it all boils down to is whether or not acting justifies an individual in going against their personal morals, beliefs, principles and or politics.

Thoughts On The Matter

One thought raised was that If a person is willing to go against their morals or beliefs, is it worth having them at all? Food for thought. Why have beliefs or boundaries if the intention is to not honour them in all facets of life?

Another person remarked that if you find yourself sitting on a fence, that's reason in itself to be wary of the opportunity and to reconsider what it would mean for you to take the job. While voice acting often goes uncredited, deep down a person who recorded something they weren't in agreement with knows that they have done the work and must live with their decision.

One voice talent shared that he has never regretted a decision to turn down work that was not aligned with his morals, values and beliefs. You can't put a price on integrity, he said.

Words

Words play an enormous role in the voice over profession. That being the case, every word that comes out of your mouth comes from you regardless of how you came to voice it.

How often does one support something publicly that they strongly disagree with in private or say things to their family and friends that they don't really mean? Not at all, I would hope. Doesn't authenticity then also apply to work? Words that come from the mouth of an actor are still words with meaning coming from the mouth of a person who chose to say them. Acting it itself does not separate actors from their tongues, minds or hearts.

When an actor does not fully invest themselves in the project because of reservations personally, that incongruity comes across in their read which in turn can negatively impact the performance and how it is received. The old adage, "Say what you mean and mean what you say," applies well here. People can spot a hypocrite a mile away.

Acting Means The Freedom To Choose

Acting gives you the opportunity to exercise your creativity while being true to yourself. We all have the right to choose no matter what is placed before us.

Freedom means that you don't need to compromise on your morals, beliefs or otherwise. That being said, freedom does not come without sacrifice. If you stick to your game plan it may mean standing alone, turning down work, the loss of relationships and scrutiny from those who disagree with you.

What you gain is the knowledge that you emerged with your dignity intact and were counted among those who possess both honour and conviction as a business professional and as an individual.

Any Comments?

Have you turned down work before? If you have something to add, be sure to comment and join the conversation.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Michele Princigalli

Related Topics: child, reading, SAG


Comments


    I have (turned down work before). It was for an adult-themed website and I just wasn't comfortable being associated with it.

    Posted by:
    • Hana Haatainen Caye
    • October 27, 2011 10:43 AM

      Oh I could probably be rollin on easy street right now had I cashed in on my "sexy-time" voice!! I get approached by adult and alternative fetish type content a lot. If its a comedic spot, I have no issues but this wasn't the case. I feel there are too many people out there with real addictions and problems, I don't want to feed anything negative.

      Posted by:
      • Suzanne Roberts
      • October 27, 2011 10:45 AM

        Yes...turned down quite a bit....I won't do anything that's gross...strip clubs, etc. or abortion clinics. And every time I turn down work for the right reason, God gives me extra work from my regular clients :)

        Posted by:

          Turned down a movie trailer for a movie that mocked my Savior, Jesus.

          Posted by:

            Last year a book was sent to me to record. As I perused it, I discovered many swear words and sexual content. I sent the book back, explaining my reasons and said that I hoped there would be other projects they might consider me for. They said they would, but of course my name has been deleted from their list of VO artists.
            I have also turned down leading roles in plays because of the language or content of the script. But, I have the peace that passes understanding.

            Posted by:

              The only projects I ever turn down are severely smeared political ads.

              Posted by:

                I turned down a Vegas casino marketing video. Turned out to be fairly risque...I passed on it.

                Posted by:

                  Having already decided that my voice was going to be a source of joy, hope, assistance and light-hearted lunacy, it made it easier to turn down roles that couldn't or wouldn't fit into that prime directive. This boils down to who you are are what's your price. Since I have ALREADY been bought with a price, no amount of cash, prestige or professional bling quite measures up to what God says I'm worth...

                  Posted by:

                    Stephanie,

                    I posted a story on this very subject last week after seeing a post on FB and the resulting comments by some very ethical voiceover talent.

                    http://storify.com/derekchappell/voiceover-in-social-media-trending-topics-this-wee

                    Derek

                    Posted by:

                      Thank you for your comments, everyone! I'm glad to hear from you.

                      @Derek We were watching the same conversation :) I crafted this article a couple of weeks ago and decided to post today. I encourage anyone reading this to visit Derek's blog and see the actual advice and sources I drew upon to help me write this article :)

                      Best wishes,

                      Stephanie

                      Posted by:

                        To me it's about not saying "yes" to every request, idea, and fee. People will come back to you down the road and respect your decision at the time, even if they don't right now. And if they don't later on? You were still right to practice integrity.

                        Posted by:

                          Believe it or not, the Church of Scientology found me and offered a VO project -- which I politely turned down. Young man from CofS didn't seem surprised.

                          Posted by:

                            Yes. The stated budget was $250-500, I quoted $400, client offered $250 and I said no way, Jose.

                            Posted by:

                              I amazed at some of the jobs I see listed, with lengthy word counts and minimal budget. Audio books are something I have not accepted as yet, since there seems not as great a ROI as for many other VO niches. And most often, I turn down work due to low budget.

                              Posted by:

                                I've turned down "regular on-going work" recording books that, while presented as "erotic romance" were actually more straight up porn. (I'd told them, I have nothing against either eroticism or romance, but I'm a Christian and I don't do porn). Fortunately they were very understanding when, after reviewing the first script, I had to decline. I've also turned down work when the budget just didn't merit the amount of work involved. I do my best to negotiate fees and work with a client's budget, but sometimes you just have to say "no."

                                Posted by:
                                • Matilda Novak
                                • October 27, 2011 2:07 PM

                                  Yep, and it's enormously satisfying.

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Debra Stamp
                                  • October 27, 2011 7:03 PM

                                    I won't do political or religious VOs I disagree with.

                                    Posted by:

                                      Poorly devised cartoons.

                                      Posted by:

                                        Good article Stephanie, thanks for posting. I have turned down work before. It was a television pharmaceutical advertisement. I believe it is "wrong" for pharmaceutical companies to peddle their prescription drugs, to the general public. They need to stick to selling their wares to physicians only. I also will not do any political ads that go against my own political beliefs.

                                        Sincerely,
                                        BP Smyth, Narrator

                                        Posted by:

                                          This is a vital question we kick around at Rosebud Center for the Arts all the time. It's about discerning what's at core, what are we willing to give up and what do we cling to. Whenever the motivation is fear based, the reasoning is suspect. For myself in particular, I use the eight second "boring" test when I scan a new job opportunity. Usually I'm more turned off by projects that don't interest me. Every once in a while, I'm offended by what I read and it's easy to pass on those. The tricky ones of course, are when I'm intrigued, but unsure of my desire to support the project. But what I find even more complicating, is the business conversation. Much of our experience as talent is not just recording the material, but communicating with the client, and I'm sorry to say that it is sometimes the charity, "not-for-profit", good causes gigs that can create the most consternation in relations. Whereas a less pious job may have the kindest and most professional interchange where both parties are treated with respect.
                                          Nonetheless, I find this question a great honing exercise to determine my heart's desires and motivation.

                                          Posted by:
                                          • Jeany Snider
                                          • October 28, 2011 10:26 AM

                                            What comes to mind of course is an actor who played the part of say Hitler. Although, in that case and argument could be made that someone who plays Hitler is not glorifying Hitler, but instead actually sheds light on what kind of a person he actually was. Whereas with a voice over actor, that's not the case; you would be using your skill and talent to promote something that you don't believe in.

                                            Posted by:
                                            • Jack Hicks
                                            • October 28, 2011 10:39 AM

                                              I have turned down certain political spots...many are just flat out insulting.

                                              Posted by:
                                              • Ed Gilliland
                                              • October 28, 2011 10:39 AM

                                                No, I love doing voiceovers! Anybody out there can check out some of my samples on YouTube, or inbox me and I'll email you my demos.

                                                Posted by:
                                                • Michael Croxton
                                                • October 28, 2011 12:22 PM

                                                  Yes when I felt I was being used to workshop stuff that the producers had not worked out yet and were fishing ideas for without being up front about it.

                                                  Posted by:
                                                  • Stephanie Gerra
                                                  • October 28, 2011 12:23 PM

                                                    Yes. There are a few words I won't say and I certainly do not do R material. Some people won't their adjust their script and I don't give in. I'm the same way about certain content for my design clients.

                                                    Posted by:

                                                      I really can't afford to turn down work.

                                                      Posted by:
                                                      • William Wineland
                                                      • October 28, 2011 12:25 PM

                                                        Yes, a book with excessive and unnecessary profanity. It wasn't vulgar (as in 'common'). It was just atrociously distasteful, and disrespectful. I choose not to associate my name with stuff like that; and "a good name is more desirable than great riches."

                                                        Posted by:

                                                          I too have turned down work and am encouraged to see that so many others care about the work that they associate themselves with! Words have power and we eat the fruit of them, I want to eat well!

                                                          Posted by:

                                                            Someone wanted me to inform someone that he had died. It sounded fishy.

                                                            Posted by:
                                                            • Vinnie Vinson
                                                            • October 28, 2011 12:42 PM

                                                              Yes...I turned down a VO job where they wanted me to do the...um...vocalizations of a woman in a porn flick......the director told me "Don't worry, I'll be right behind you in the booth directing you while you watch the monitor..." uh huh......turned it down and never heard from them again. LOL

                                                              Posted by:
                                                              • Mary Bardes Love
                                                              • October 28, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                                I've turned down several jobs because the content of those projects was salacious - two were full-on erotica. I believe there is a proper place for the use of a sultry voice (male and female); however, if I feel the content is inappropriate, I'll "respectfully decline" the engagement. I agree with Tim Lundeen's comment that I don't want to be associated with projects I find disrespectful no matter how big the fee is.

                                                                Posted by:

                                                                  The only person you hurt is yourself doing ANYTHING for money.

                                                                  Posted by:
                                                                  • James Ebert
                                                                  • October 28, 2011 1:44 PM

                                                                    I've refused work based on political and religious views - but also a lot of "testimonials" when I've never even tried the product - Dieting programs are great for that. I've also turned down jobs that didn't pay the standard rates. I think we all have to do that to ensure that we're able to be paid a fee that supports our lively hood. If we stand in solidarity, refusing to work for ridiculously low rates, then we will ensure a fair and balanced pay scale for everyone.

                                                                    Posted by:
                                                                    • Meredith Orlow
                                                                    • October 28, 2011 2:22 PM

                                                                      Other than the usual turning down of jobs due to low rates, I've passed on ads for a few escort services. No thanks!

                                                                      Posted by:

                                                                        Inspiringly ethical responses! There was a job a while back for someone to voice a 'psychological' package 'guaranteed' to make any women unable to resist a man. It's good to see we probably all said no.

                                                                        Posted by:

                                                                          Today's society is worrisome in that it seems serious thought about the ramifications of actions (both short and long-term) is low on the totem pole.

                                                                          Opinions on anything vary and are plentiful. The same is true in regard to moral assessments. I am heartened to see that so many among us HAVE a moral compass even though it might differ in detail from person to person. This is the hope of the human race.

                                                                          Posted by:

                                                                            I have wondered what I would choose if I had the opportunity to do a job I didn't feel right about but paid well. I'm really not that good at faking my feelings in real life so I doubt I would be able to do my best work in that kind of circumstance.

                                                                            Posted by:
                                                                            • Janice Boyd
                                                                            • October 29, 2011 3:10 PM

                                                                              Yes. I stand by my principles when it comes to certain subject matter, and pricing terms. I feel fortunate to be in a position to do so.

                                                                              Posted by:

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