Deb Munro enjoys "selected fame" as live announcer for Canada's 2009 Gemini Awards
Though Not Seen, We're More
Than 'Just The Voice Talent'!
By Deb Munro
Voice Actor & Coach
Recently I was honored to be chosen as the voice for the 2009 Gemini Awards, which was broadcast live from Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Nov 14, 2009.
This prestigious event - much like the Golden Globes - honors the Canadian Film and Television industry.
Following in the footsteps of one of my idols, Randy Thomas - who is the announcer for the Academy Awards - I was at a career high to have received this opportunity. It is truly one of the most honorable jobs to have as a Canadian voice talent, and it was a privilege to be chosen.
I learned many things on this live event, and believe they are worth sharing. But first, let me share this story ...
THIS HAPPENED TO BOB
I'm a huge fan of Bob Bergen, the voice of Porky Pig, Tweety and tons more.
He's an incredible voice actor, coach, mentor and human being. But what I love most about Bob is his willingness to share his experiences and stories.
One story in particular has always stood out to me.
Bob was the voice of several of the animated characters for Space Jam, the live action/animation film featuring Looney Tunes characters. What an incredible opportunity and a well-earned job!
SENT TO OVERFLOW
But Bob was taken back when he discovered that he was NOT invited to the film's premiere, while invitations did go to the voice actors of "bigger name" characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
The wife of Daffy Duck voice Dee Baker generously gave Bob her ticket.
The premiere was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. But Bob and Dee were directed to an overflow theater down the street, where they could not see the film with the rest of the cast and celebrity attendees.
The overflow theater was half empty. The entire cast could have been invited, as there was plenty of room.
I was shocked to learn this. After all, we as voice talent know how important the voice is to the production, so we assume that voice actors of Bob’s stature are treated very well.
MY GEMINI EXPERIENCE
Now I’ve got a similar story, from my Gemini Awards experience.
Don’t get me wrong. Just as Bob was - and still is - honored to have voiced so many of the characters in Space Jam, I too am honored to have been a part of the Gemini event.
But I was extremely taken back to have lived Bob’s reality.
When I arrived for the production, I was greeted by the production team and sent into the Green Room, where I introduced myself to a few of the celebrities there.
LIT MY FUSE
Then, within a half hour, I was whisked away to my private voice booth – in the FUSE BOX ROOM.
Not only was this room dingy with barn-type doors and poor acoustics, but pipes with running water were making tons of dripping noises and, well, quite frankly, I was locked in this little hole never to come out, except for lunch.
Lunch meant only a 30-minute break before dress rehearsals. I was needed for ALL of the rehearsals, and of course, they ran late.
SAVE IT FOR CELEBS
I kept inquiring when I’d have time to get ready for the event that evening. No make-up and wardrobe for me, though. They save that for the real celebs.
Despite my many pleas for time to slip into a $300 outfit that I spent great care in selecting, I was given 30 minutes to get ready.
I knew that at 4:30 there was a cocktail party. So I suggested I’d like time to get ready to be able to attend the party.
The production office replied, ”You need a ticket for that,” and it was obvious I wasn’t getting one.
So I quickly prepared my dress in the public washroom and we did our hair in the Green Room while everyone was schmoozing.
THE FINAL FISACO
Then I was flagged down 15 minutes before my call time to rush to the voice room.
So I ran out of free time, had no Red Carpet opportunity, and had no time to greet my guests, take pictures, etc. I spent the remainder of the evening in that booth.
At the end of the production, they said they needed me to stay to make a final announcement as people were leaving the stadium.
So I patiently waited, and much time went by.
I pressed my talkback button and discovered that EVERYONE was gone! They had left me in the fuse box room for some time before realizing I was still there, and apparently, the announcement wasn’t needed after all.
NO NETWORKING TIME
By the time I got out, all the celebs had left and there was NO time to get to know industry people who would potentially hire me based on the performance I gave.
I also received NO recognition in the program, so there was no way to know who was doing the announcing unless you watched the program credits fly by at high speed.
This was all very disappointing, but I thought it would be okay since I could see many of these people at the “after party.” Then, of course, I was to find out we were not invited to that either.
WE’RE ‘JUST VOICE TALENT’?
So why do I share this with you? First, I could finally relate to all I was warned about regarding being 'just the voice talent."
This was eye-opening for me, and in some ways, was a great experience.
The one thing I’ve learned about Voice - compared to Film – actors, in general, is that voice talent are a bit more modest.
There isn’t the air of arrogance in the voice community that we often see in the film community.
Perhaps this is because of how little we are recognized visually. But:
PREFER ‘SELECTED’ FAME
I will use Nancy Cartwright as an example as to why voice artists have a much better life, no matter the treatment of the events.
Nancy, who is the voice of Bart Simpson, can still live a normal life.
Consider a hypothetical stage shared by Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman and Nancy Cartwright anywhere in the world. The audience will want a piece of all these celebrities – except for Nancy, until she spoke in Bart’s voice.
Nancy has what I call selected fame. And that’s just where I want to be.
FASCINATION WITH VOICE-OVER
When you say you’re an actor, you hear, “Oh, so you’re unemployed,” or “What restaurant do you work at?”
But when you say you’re a voice talent, the usual response is, “What? What is that? Tell me more!”
People are fascinated by what we do. It sparks up conversations wherever I go.
While I wish I could have been invited to the Gemini parties and allowed opportunities to be introduced more as the voice talent, and not been so hidden, I truly appreciate that I will always have anonymity, if I chose to.
I discovered that I like where I am. I’m honored to be that hidden, mysterious voice, and I can pat myself on the back.
No longer am I that insecure on-camera actor looking for approval. I know where I am. I know what I’ve accomplished. I know I have tons to be proud of, and that’s all the recognition I will ever need.
I hope that you will take part in this industry because you absolutely love it, rather than looking for your moment of fame.
It’s different in our VO world, and even though we could be more appreciated, WE ROCK! And don’t ever forget it.
ABOUT DEB ...
Deb Munro is a leading voice talent, coach, and owner of Chanti Productions, in the Vancouver, B.C., Canada area. She offers private coaching and MIC 'N ME workshops on voice acting, business and demo prep in many U.S. and Canadian cities.