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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
MicNMe
 
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:
  • I know that they could not host a successful voice event without a great voice talent. It would change the show entirely.
  • I know how valuable our job is to the industry. In fact it’s the one job that’s irreplaceable. They can animate for you visually, but they are not able to replicate the human voice - at least, not the emotions that go behind it.
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.
 
HAVE SELF-PRIDE
 
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.
 
Gemini Awards on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkMUP-ub2DE
 
 
 
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Comments (10)
Deb Munro
1/6/2010 at 9:29 PM
I thank you all for your comments and support

Again, I'm truly greatful for the opportunity ... it was an honor to be THAT voice ... but I learned many lessons on what I needed to be sure of. But we can't know what to request if we haven't been through it and I had to go through it.

I'm bad when it comes to contracts as I am only fussy about food and about how things look, not in having to say, treat me like the other celebs. I discovered what to make sure of in the next contract (if they give me one after posting this article), but I also discovered much more - that I loved what I did, and that's all that mattered. I hope my talents will speak for themselves and perhaps this was just the humility lesson I needed. I don't have to TELL everyone what I do, I have to love it, own it and it will speak for itself.

It was a beautiful experience, no matter.
All my best, thanks, Deb
Grace Angela Henry
1/5/2010 at 1:08 PM
Deb, You looked FABULOUS in that outfit and I rather like the idea of an elegant professional in that awful fuse room! I echo the statement that class wins out at the end of the day and you make the rest of us look good. Your balanced view of it all and your positive take-away are inspiring. Thanks for the tale!
Debbie Irwin
1/4/2010 at 10:56 PM
There's so much food for thought here!! One thing that strikes me is the closet component ... Frequently, outsiders who learn that many home studios are located in closets cast aspersions on that, and yet, here you are at one of the top gigs in your country, only to be housed in a Fuse Box Room! To your credit, you didn't let your fuse get lit! Thanks for sharing your story.
Bobbin Beam
1/4/2010 at 12:30 PM
Deb,
What a riveting, and shocking story. I agree what Mike Butler and Alan Sklar just said. But "who'd a thunk" that such an organization would treat a professional that way. WOW!
Mike Butler
1/4/2010 at 9:56 AM
Wow! This is the makings of a great contract rider for future gigs: "no fuse box room, no dripping pipes..." etc. Sometimes it is not enough to just assume you will be treated as you'd like to be; it's better to get it in writing.
Alan Sklar
1/4/2010 at 8:35 AM
Were you paid well for your labors and did the check clear?
Mike Cooper
1/4/2010 at 1:54 AM
How sad, Deb! You're right, though: there's a tendency for us to be "heard and not seen," so perhaps this is our wake-up call. Next time we're fortunate to be booked for such a gig, perhaps the onus is on us to check out what the deal entails and what comes with it, rather than just saying yes and being thrilled to be asked (something I've been as guilty of as most).
Lowell Deo
1/4/2010 at 12:59 AM
Deb, that report is heartbreaking! I equate it to the blockbuster or "movie of the week" sagas where the world is in crisis and its salvation/success hinges on everything YOU do! Only problem is - everyone else is too myopic to see that. Still, your class and attitude in the wake of it explains why you're where you are! Thanks for giving a lesson in behaving like a true pro.
Chris Coulter
1/4/2010 at 12:31 AM
I am just beginning my career as a voice actor and I thank Deb for this story. I also thank you for publishing it. I wouldn't mind not being able to go to all the events but I'd hate having to work in that awful room with the dripping pipes and being left there when the last announcement wasn't needed would be awful. I guess I have some toughening up to do. :)
Peter Katt
1/3/2010 at 5:58 PM
I liken our work to that of skilled chefs -- yes, there are a few celebrities who are known to a lot of people, and the masters who are well-known among their peers, but there are a lot of talented people who labor in obscurity but whose efforts are appreciated by many.
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