Voice123 has the potential to play a role in improving equality across the voiceover industry. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because we genuinely want to.
The team has been reflecting on the major systemic inequalities experienced by marginalized groups within society, and more specifically, how we as an organization can play a part in changing these long-standing and deeply entrenched prejudices.
We aim to educate, not regulate
At Voice123, supporting clients with their project needs is an integral part of our services. Here are some tips that will help us all be more equitable in our approach, simply on the basis of saying what you mean.
- Keep project proposals simple
Are the project proposals upfront, direct and clear? (e.g., I am looking for a Black voice actor, I am looking for a voice actor who identifies as non-binary, etc.)
- Ask for exactly what you want
If a project requires voice actors from a specific group, this should be stated explicitly. Do not use cryptic, stereotypical or offensive descriptions (e.g., urban or African-American voice).
We started a Voice123 dictionary to explicitly state which words & terms we consider cryptic, stereotypical or offensive. It is a living, breathing document; we invite you to suggest your ideas so we can build this together.
- Provide examples for clarity
If there is a particular voice reference (e.g., celebrities, characters), share it! It can help articulate requirements more clearly.
- Specific requests pertaining to or excluding marginalized groups
These are harder to catch. They can be positive or negative, but you must be conscious of both sides. Be conscious of the negative biases that can be perpetuated through repeated use of, what is pretty lazy character development by anyone’s standards. But also be conscious of the positive ripple effects that follow when casting from underrepresented groups as an integral part of a project, not just being a checkbox on a “diversity list.”
We do not wish to restrict or negate client or editorial freedom in any way, so we hope that this base guideline will help clarify our approach to improving equality and diversity for the benefit of everyone involved. If you do have any questions, please contact us here.
We aim to promote, not enforce
At Voice123, we absolutely understand the realities of voice acting as a full-time career. It’s a competitive, fast-paced industry and requires discipline, flexibility and flair. And rightfully so, this ability opens doors towards a wide variety of projects and roles.
We want to keep the ‘acting’ in voice acting alive. We don’t want to take it too far; it is not our intention to silo anyone.
That is NOT our end game.
But it’s also up to the voice actor to draw a line. As this line is different for everybody, a person’s moral compass should be the guide.
Here are some examples and reminder prompts of ways we can all actively consult our moral compass.
- What are your values?
Work is work is work, right? Well, yes. However, we all have our boundaries. There is power in being able to say ‘yes’. But there is as much power in saying ‘no’. Voice actors should feel free to respond to any invitation that fits their profile, but if the audition calls for an authentic voice or accent, a voice actor who does not qualify on the basis of true authenticity should strongly consider refraining from auditioning. And on the topic of saying no, as much as we’re pushing the importance of authenticity, it is very important for voice actors to feel confident in their ability to say no to work if it is not in accordance with their personal values/career goals, without any qualifiers from the get-go.
PS: Sometimes our search algorithms might’ve made a mistake! If you believe that there is an issue with regard to any project proposals, you can get in touch with us here.
- Honesty is the best policy.
That means being upfront about your situation. Voice123 is an open marketplace that encourages relationship-building between creatives. If you have any doubts about whether you’d be a good fit for the project, state relevant information about yourself so the client has a full picture when deciding how to proceed next.
- We’re here to help. If anytime you see something that simply does not sit right with you, please let us know. We can then support the client in reframing their brief and attracting the best voice for their project.
We are here to assist you in creating successful, lucrative and enjoyable voice-over acting careers, and this is just a baseline to provide nuance as to how we’d see us all working together to continue crafting the future of the voiceover industry.
Our 3 Pillars of Action
Voice123’s 3 main pillars of actions have been derived as the constant actions we must ingrain in our culture to support the two main efforts above.
We commit and build this into our company foundation, remaining resolute from the start. It’s so crucial to stress the importance and value we attach to authentic voices. It must be part and parcel of our brand identity and company culture so that everyone is on the same page.
We listen. We understand that those from marginalized groups, including women, BIPOC1, LGBTQ+2 and the elderly, may not always receive the same treatment and we pledge to level the playing fields for all. We make it easy to collect feedback to learn about their needs and requests.
We prioritize. But it’s on us to prioritize what’s important to us. If “actively promoting equality and diversity in the voiceover industry” is part of our goal, then ultimately, our decisions and actions must reflect that.
1: BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, People of Color
2: LGBTQ+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Queer
[+ includes all of the communities in the “LGBTTTQQIAA”: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, 2/Two-Spirit, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Ally.]
A big thank you goes out to Nyasha Pitt for consulting on the overall structure of Project Authentic Voices, as well as voice actors on Voice123 who offered suggestions and feedback to improve this document, in no particular order: Gabriel Ivan Uriarte García, Dre Parker, Katie-Renée Taylor, Rosa Howard, Monique Caradine, Victoria Taylor Swilley, Adrián Barrón, JV Hampton VanSant, Crystal Cohen, Keong Sim, Dave Braxton, Lorna Duyn, Hillary Hawkins, Saundi Harrison, Chris Schermerhorn, Nydia Monarrez, & Michael Hale. A final thank you to Lori Beckstead, Tate Brombal and Laura Heidenheim for further advice and consultations.