There will be times in your life as a voice over artist when it will become important for you to turn down work. I know, I know, I can already hear you thinking, geez, it’s hard enough for me to get voice over work, and now I have to turn it down? Well yes. There are circumstances which call for turning away that for which you have worked so hard to get. It will help define you as a business person, an artist, and as a citizen. And in many cases it will also set the stage for you getting continued work in the future.
Over the next couple of blog posts, we’ll take a look at three different scenarios in which turning down work can help define the way you are going to run your business.
Today I’m going to talk about objectionable material. If you are asked to do an audition for a product, event or person you find morally objectionable, just don’t audition for it. Luckily, this doesn’t happen very often, but you’ll know when it does, because you won’t feel good about it. Something inside you just won’t feel right about being the voice that promotes this thing. For me, it’s been a couple of video games, which through their language, character behavior, and plot have promoted misogyny, the physical and emotional exploitation and abuse of women.
I’ve also turned down auditions promoting a convention for a political figure that I couldn’t stand, and bond measures that I was against. And back in the day, I turned down good money to promote cigarette smoking on a billboard.
Now, in every one of these instances I know people who would say, ‘Well, someone is going to get that work so it might as well be me. I need the money. Just because I’m the voice behind a certain bond measure doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for it.” Okay, but if your voice is convincing enough you may have a direct hand in helping that bond measure pass. Same with the video games.
“Hey, it’s an acting job. Get over it. There are evil people in the world. Are you telling me you’re never gonna play an evil character?” No, of course not. I love playing bad guys and I’ve been lucky enough to have played quite few in my time. I just won’t play one in a game that glorifies and takes pleasure in showing misogynistic behavior.
My point is: You should always have your moral compass set toward a point of inner integrity. Uh oh, here come the naysayers again. “Yo, I need to make money, all right? I’m running a business here. And my business is a place to make money. I didn’t spend all this money on my voice over career just to worry about whether I’m doing the right thing.” Hey, well, we’ve all seen where that kind of outlook leads. The banks pretty much had that attitude when they shafted this whole country and left us holding the bag. You want to act like them, be my guest.
Turning down the work that I have, hasn’t had any detrimental effects on my career whatsoever. If anything it’s been beneficial. My agent has been totally cool with the choices I’ve made, and when this topic has arisen in other on-the-job situations my decisions have been appreciated by a number of directors and producers (both men and women) and, I believe, have helped solidify our relationships. In this business, your reputation will follow you everywhere. So make sure it’s a reputation you can live with.
Next time we’ll tackle two more reasons to turn down work. Until then, this is your ethically-minded voice coach, David Rosenthal, saying, have a great week/weekend/life!