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Beware The Rise of Abusive Hiring
And Talent Representation Tactics
May 27, 2012

Note: The author is also the author of VoiceOverXtra's new eBook, Voice Over LEGAL, the voice actor's comprehensive guide to business and legal issues, including business structure, contracts, taxes, legal liabilities, copyrights, insurance, working with agents, unions and more.  DETAILS.

By Robert Sciglimpaglia Jr.
Voice Actor, Actor, Attorney

I am seeing more and more abuses of actors and voice actors lately, as non-union "actors” flood the business, especially in voice over. Here are some of these appalling things.


I just got a request for an audition, in which the seeker asks ME for a $10 application fee! Are you kidding?

That audition went immediately to the DELETE folder, but I am SURE they will have no shortage of actors who call themselves "professional” showing up at their door.

Last time I checked, being a pro meant you got paid for your work.   


More and more "representatives,” i.e., managers or agents, are asking talent to pay them cash to be their manager or agent.

This is a disturbing trend. Oh sure, that $25 monthly "maintenance” fee may look innocent now, but it is a very slippery slope. If $25 is OK, then why not $100, or even $1,000 a month? 

In my opinion, this is rarely worth it, so think twice before paying a fee. Again, you are the pro.  Your agents should make money only when you make money.   


If a "manager" or agent refuses to negotiate terms in their contract, run - do not walk - to the nearest door (unless, of course it is the old union franchised agreement). 

This is a major red flag. And it is especially true if the agent or manager asks you to sign something called or titled General Services Agreement, which is written to be very one sided in favor of the agent. This is a new trend in actor abuses - even amongst union actors. 

Sure, there will be a line-up of talent only too eager to sign on that dotted line - until there is a problem. And that is when I, as the attorney, get the call. (That call is rarely made before they sign the agreement, which is when I can actually do something about it.)


Those are just a few of the many abuses I hear about daily from actors and voice actors. All are in complete violation of union rules, and if actors continue to be unwise or even stupid about them, well, that is why the union was and will always be necessary. 

Despite this - and without getting into the controversy about fair pay - I hear non-union actors every day say: "I don’t need the union.”   

This article is in no way intended to be a "should I join the union?" discussion. Nor is it pro or anti-union. 

However, these are issues that unions have fought over in order to protect their members. They are basic and very valid issues. So take notice. For every performer who ignores safe practices, there are dozens more willing to step in.

Do we really think so little of ourselves and our profession that we will even consider being "ripped off”?  Do we really want to "be on TV” that badly? 

It makes no sense to me.  And I didn’t have to go to law school to figure it out. 


Robert J. Sciglimpaglia Jr. is a popular voice actor, actor and attorney representing voice actors, actors and other performers. He is also owner of All In One Voice, a voice over instruction and business/legal services firm. And he is author of the 120-page Voice Over LEGAL eBook, a comprehensive guide to business and legal issues for voice actors and other performers.
Voice Over LEGAL eBook:

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Comments (5)
joan bishop
6/11/2012 at 11:14 AM
These are some great mindful tips.

I really wished the blog explained or listed some examples within the section for: "THEY VIOLATE UNION RULES". Which ones? Where does a beginning VO artist find these Union Rules and are they sensitive to state legislature? Reading a gripe with out listing information to back up a claim or where to go for more info is frustrating and a time waister.

Thanks for your time though.
Rick Lance
5/30/2012 at 5:44 PM
I wasn't aware of some of these tactics. Like those stated at the top of the article. HA... they're laughable! Except for the fact that some stupid talent may fall for them.

It's a matter of thinking before you act. Looking at the big picture. Understanding what that client is considering and why you should be a part of it. I don't sell myself short... ever! I simply, politely, professionally say NO! If something gets too much for me to handle, I'll consult Rob for professional advice.
Uncle Roy Yokelson
5/30/2012 at 9:23 AM
I guess where you'll find most of those abusive posts is on craigslist and bidding sites like thumbtack. Most people posting here don't know anything about voice overs except: it's an easy job - should only take about a half hour - $ 50 non-negotiable!
5/29/2012 at 9:52 PM
I am a non-union VO and have a lot of friends who are union and continually take non-union jobs. They don't tell their agents and do it under aliases.
Pamela Tansey
5/29/2012 at 12:47 PM
Thanks for keeping us informed as to the trends, Robert!
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