So Now The Voice Over Audition Seeks An
'Ambiguously Ethnic Voice.' Say What?
April 1, 2015
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor
There’s a new, cryptic request showing up in auditions now. Have you see it, too?
Really? "Ambiguously ethnic”?"We’re looking for some African American voices, or ‘ambiguously ethnic voices.'"
You know what this reminds me of? An interview I saw with Tom Hanks when his movie The Terminal came out. You’ll remember Hanks played the role of a traveler caught in customs limbo when his fictional Eastern European country collapsed in political chaos, and his character’s nationality came into question.
Hanks explained in an interview that he arrived at the character’s accent by throwing together a polyglot of ethnicities based on a distant foreign relative, combined with a generic "Slovakian”-derived speech pattern.
Don’t even get me started about the call for "African-American” voices. That’s so blatantly racial, or reverse-racial that it blows my mind.
So if "announcery” is of the devil, and "conversational” is no longer de rigeur - then is "ambiguously ethnic” our new target as commercial voice actors?
That direction is so…er….uh…ambiguous…that it leaves no room for definition.
In theory, ANYTHING would meet that standard. I think I’ll mix a little Costa Rican Spanish with some Irish, and add a Pakistani flourish. Yeah! THAT should do it.
Will somebody please comment on what "ambiguously ethnic” accent worked for them on these audition calls, and at least we’ll have an idea of what to shoot for?
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology.
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