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Je Ne Sais Quois: Getting Voice Work You Can't Explain

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

July 13, 2012

Comments (4)

Human hand holding a globe made of glass with frosting on where the continents are.Do you book work consistently in certain countries and don't know why?

When you do, have you noticed that the work is similar and are you able to spot a trend?

Voice over talent Christina Smith certainly has!

Hear her story in today's VOX Daily.

Global Marketplace, Global Opportunities

Christina Smith voice talentThis may go without saying but working online opens doors for you that geographically would not have been possible before.

Christina Smith, pictured at left, is a voice talent based in the US who happens to have a large client base overseas, specifically in the Netherlands and Norway.

Although Christina isn't entirely sure why companies from countries in that part of the world want to work with her, she can't complain!

Many of Christina's overseas clients are located in:

๏ Goor, Netherlands
๏ Ridderkerk, Netherlands
๏ Noordwijk, Netherlands
๏ Eersel, Netherlands
๏ Belgium
๏ Larvik, Norway
๏ Paris, France
๏ Shinfield, UK
๏ Beijing, China

Connecting The Dots

After speaking with Christina, I noticed an interesting pattern, particularly as it pertains to a few countries in Europe.

Netherlands (Holland), Belgium and Norway are all countries that while their official language is not English, they must learn it in order to communicate and work with the rest of the world. The languages spoken in these countries are not usually spoken elsewhere which is why English has become their lingua franca.

Dutch being a Germanic language (as is English), I could also see how they might want a North American English speaker with a relatively neutral accent recording voice-overs for them and may be attracted to that particular way of speaking either to emulate the speech or for consistency.

A Dutch Voice Weighs In

I asked some friends about their thoughts regarding the use of North American English voices with neutral accents in countries such as Holland. Fortunately for me I have a number of Dutch friends (and relatives!) so the answers came quickly.

Hans Van Den NieuwendijkHans Van Den Nieuwendijk is a native Dutch voice talent who lives in the US. He writes, "We do notice an (heavy) accent when it comes to North American speakers. Especially southern accents (SC, AL, MS, FL, TX.) But most Dutch people would not be able to distinguish between someone from Wisconsin, Colorado, Virginia, Kansas, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania etc. or between a neutral American and a Canadian accent. The North American accent is very prevalent in The Netherlands, mostly because we subtitle everything so we hear the original voice(s). Aside from that, the trend over the last decade is that the English language is being used on a much wider scale. Since most of the movies/series/fashion and so on comes from the North American continent, English words in language, on TV and radio and in printed ads are widely accepted and used."

All of this may explain why the North American accent is sought after abroad, but does that explain the kind of work that overseas countries prefer the accent for?

Common Needs For Christina's Voice

Some of the projects Christina has been part of recently include voice-over recordings for:

๏ Cartoon characters on animated television series geared toward preschoolers
๏ Humorous voice acting sketches with a professional comedian and actor
๏ Telephone auto-attendant (multiple)
๏ Corporate Internal On Air Radio Broadcasts
๏ Corporate Narration for Internal Presentations
๏ Theme Park/Zoo Copy and Narration
๏ Emergency Warnings
๏ Storyteller
๏ Videogame Character Voices

Je Ne Sais Quoi!

What's interesting is that Christina isn't typically hired to voice for animation on her home continent. The Europeans seem to book her for that work more often than not! Because she is also skilled at performing a variety of accents, Christina is able to cast her net even further and deliver lines with a British flair such as the ones you would hear in movies like Pixar's Brave.

Can You Relate?

Perhaps you know where Christina is coming from and have experienced similar things working with clients in countries other than your own.

How global is your voice-over career? Be sure to comment with some of the countries your voice has been heard in to join the conversation!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

iStockphoto.com©Courtney Keating

Related Topics: Accent, animation, Brave, cartoons, German, hired, Pixar, radio, TV, union, videogames


Comments


    Having clients in other parts of the world is thrilling!
    Recently I've voiced projects in Kuwait, Ireland and Israel.
    The world feels smaller day by day!

    Posted by:

      I understand very well. I too have been doing voice work for several clients due east of us. I regularly do work for clients in Poland, Norway, Copenhagen, Bahrain, Sweden, Netherlands and several years ago, Beijing. Lots of my agencies that are in Europe also do work for corporations over here, including Clorox, Roche and others. Funny thing, The major Roche Diagnostics campus is a few miles from my home in Fishers, IN.

      They seem to like the Midwest, non-regional sound and clarity that we are able to deliver to them. Thank goodness for the Internet which opened up our backyards to the world.

      Posted by:

        Dutch is spoken in sixty percent of Belgium, in Surinam and it is one of the official languages of the Dutch Antilles. Some people in Indonesia still speak Dutch. Afrikaans, spoken by 15-20 million people in South Africa, originated from a Dutch dialect.

        English words like "snorkel," "buoy" and even "Yankees," are originally Dutch.

        In the past few decades, I've noticed a shift in the way the Dutch learn English. When I went to High School in the eighties, British English or RP was still the standard.

        Because the U.S. has become much more of a cultural influence through movies, music and television, kids mimic American accents. Does this translate in an increased demand for American voice actors? Maybe, but I have noticed a different trend.

        As a Dutchman living and working in the U.S. my most in-demand accent is "neutral English." It's neither stiff-upper-lip British nor redneck American. Listeners can't figure out where I'm from, which gives it more international appeal.

        The Dutch companies I work for seem to prefer it over a posh British accent or a more North American accent.


        Posted by:

          My foreign clients have been wonderful. So far, I've had clients in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, UK, Poland, Mexico and Japan and even Canada. Since I'm also a writer, I've often been able to assist my clients with minor grammar changes in their scripts. I've had recurring work in the Netherlands as well. Nice to know the origin of that trend.

          Posted by:

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