VOICE OVER PEOPLE
I Am Not A Black Voice Actor.
I Am Not An African-American Voice Actor.
I Am A Voice Actor.
July 23, 2020
Editor's note: How well do we truly understand one another - especially when viewed through a haze of ethnicity or skin color? The voice over profession is arguably more caring than most, yet insights are always valuable. The author first approached this topic in a Facebook post and video that we noticed and asked to reprint. Kabir graciously expanded that post to this article and moving video ...
By Kabir Singh
A voice actor in the voice over community was offended by my use of the words "Black and African American Accented/Sounding" when describing my voice on my blog.
Here's an example from my website:
After a positive and in-depth conversation, it was suggested that "urban" is less offensive and preferred when describing my voice.
I will always lead by love – so, I went in and changed some of my blogs to reflect "urban" when describing my voice.
This is a sensitive time in the world, in the voice over community, and I respect that. I am paying attention to this and treating it with compassion and respect because the conversation needs to happen.
Specifically, in the voice over community – how we define voices and who plays certain characters is an ongoing discussion.
SPEAKING MY TRUTH
I will always stand by my truth and speak it.
My website/blogs/marketing and soul reflects the name Kabir Singh. No stage name.
My videos/photos and content always show a brown - possibly ethnic ambiguous - Indian/minority. I am who I am.
The way I sound is not an act, character or a show.
I will not apologize for my up bringing and/or voice. My voice is my heart. My voice is my soul. My voice is the essence of my experiences.
I don't see color as a reason to discredit a person's vocal skills, talents or business.
I have learned from some of the most amazing black voice actors. But when I am learning from them, I don't see them as African American voice actors or black voice actors - I see them as voice actors. I see them with love and respect.
I have also learned from great white voice actors. How do they see or hear me?
WHAT INFLUENCES ME ...
I grew up in a trailer park in La Puente, CA. I was one of the only East Indian kids in the area.
There are countless times where I was made fun of and called horrible names by other kids. Everything from Sand N*GG*R, APU, Aladdin's Monkey to Osama Bin Laden.
I experienced this for many years as a young child. It is my truth and my story.
I am no stranger to hate. I am no stranger to being bullied.
The video below is my direct response to those who want to know my story, my influences, and are willing to judge me by the contents of my character …
My name is Kabir Singh. I'm a voice actor, poet and philosopher.
By background, I was born in India, and I never had a father growing up so we bounced around country to country to look for him. I found him for the first time when I was eight years old.
We lived in a trailer park in La Puente, California.
Pops died when I was really young, when I was about 11 or 12 years old. So poverty, and the sufferings of poverty, are not too distant from me. The sufferings of being a single mom household is not too distant from me.
I grew up with a lot of bullying in my life. I grew up with a lot of people calling me things that they probably wouldn't want to call me today.
Those things made me the person I am today. Those things taught me what humanity is, what life is really about, what compassion really means, what love really means.
And I had to work on my spirit to get there.
Who I am ...
I was raised by the influence of the black culture. I was raised by the influence of the Hispanic culture. I was raised by the influence of single moms who worked every day of their life to take care of their kids.
I was raised by the influence and the beauty of black music. Of black grandmas that taught me life lessons. I was raised by homies that taught me what it means to be a man, how to stand up for yourself. These homies were black, Mexican, some were Filipino – all different races. They made me a better man.
I've been influenced my entire life by these people – these people that I consider my friends. People that love me and I love them, and I stand by their character.
I am a voice actor. I am not a black or an African-American voice actor.
I was born in India. I grew up with the love of African-American community and one that I cherish and I honor. One that I pay homage and respect to.
Along this journey of creating a business you learn many lessons. One of the internet games is search engine optimization. Involved in that game is how do you define what you're looking for. If I'm looking for a product or service, how do you describe it into Google?
As a voice actor, clients tend to hire me for my poetic sound, my urban sound. But they also tend to hire me because I may be able to connect to a certain audience that they're looking for because of my sound.
What is my sound?
You can call it urban. You can call it an African-American sound. You can call it a multicultural race sound. You can call it whatever you want.
I am a voice actor. I'm a voice actor that's been through my own sufferings in life. I'm a voice actor that puts my heart and soul into everything I do. I'm a voice actor that gets on the microphone and always shares my spirit.
I'm also a poet. I understand the sufferings of life. I'm a poet that looks after people in my community.
I'm a philosopher. I'm a philosopher that looks into the curiosities of life. Who thinks about how to improve himself and how to better himself in this world. My goals in life are to be a positive influence.
I'm no different than anybody and I make mistakes. And I learned from those mistakes.
My character is my pride. My character is my pride.
You are not hiring any label of me. You're hiring my spirit as you hire a voice actor, you're hiring my soul and my spirit.
It is my goal in life to approach compassion and empathy from a perspective without anger, without frustration. It is not my goal to offend. It is not my goal to stand in a place where I don't belong.
I stand for love and I stand for humanity. My race will always be human. I will die on that hill. I am a human being. I bleed this blood that circulates in the pump you bleed.
My job is to love and have compassion and take care of people around me and to do it in the graceful way and to do an honest way. And to never put on a façade.
You will always see my name as Kabir Singh. And you will always see my image of me. My skin, my face and nobody else. You will always get to know who I am from the depths of my soul, because I will always speak my truth.
I am forever a work in progress - as a voice actor and a human being.
There have been many races that have helped me on this voice-acting journey. Many white voice actors that have helped me become successful in business, many black voice actors that gave me reflection and perspective and an idea. Many old voice actors that teach me to keep it humble as I go through this journey of ups and downs of age. Many women voice actors who give me a beautiful perspective of the opposite of what I am, of the energy of the feminine, the beautiful energy.
I am forever a work in progress, and I will always define myself as a human being.
My goal is to become a better voice actor.
I don't know the lines of how to play imaginary. I just know how to be myself. I know how to speak my truth. And I will always die on the hill of truth and I will always look and reflect and try to see how I can improve myself, how I can be better. And I am not afraid of those conversations.I am a product of many colors.
I've experienced my own racisms in life. I've been called the worst of the worst also in my life.
But it's no fault to anybody else. I don't see color. In my eye, I am an Indian man. I was born in India. When I look at the cartoon character Apu and who does his voice, am I supposed to be offended because it's not an Indian from India?
It doesn't hurt my heart, so I don't see color. Because I'm a product of many colors. I'm a product of many races.
I'm successful because of many people. I am overall a successful person because of love and I will always die on that hill of love.
If I have done anything offensive or I've said anything offensive, I will always be receptive and make acknowledgement and improve. We are human beings who make mistakes and we shall improve. Forgiveness and love and compassion is part of the improvement.
I am not a black voice actor. I am a voice actor. I am myself.
My name is Kabir Singh. I'm not an African-American or black voice actor. I am a voice actor. I am myself. I am my spirit. I am my sufferings and I am my love and I am my compassion. How I am labeled or how clients perceive me is not my business.
My business is to be my heart and my soul. And to hopefully do it gracefully. It is always love, and forever it will always be respect to the cultures, to the communities that have influenced this young man to become a better man.
I will always stand by the love of the Hispanic, the Mexican, the black, the Asian, the white, the Indian, all these people that make me a better voice actor, a better human being.
Man, you are my brother, you are my sister.
And if I fall short, I will stand here to improve myself and build my character and become a better man. It is my duty to do so.
Los Angeles-based voice actor, poet and philosopher, Kabir Singh has been the voice of some of the world's largest brands, including T-Mobile, NFL, NBA, Nintendo, and Nike. His signature delivery is a poetic cadence with a raw urban street vibe. You can follow @kabirsvoice for all of his poetic philosophy and voice over related content.
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