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Top 10 Lies Voice Actors Tell
In Hopes Of Getting Ahead ...
 
Paul  StrikwerdaBy Paul Strikwerda
Voice Actor

How far would you go to get ahead in this game we call the voice over marketplace?
 
Would you betray your pacifist principles and record a promotional video for land mines?
 
Would you flirt with the casting director? Would you badmouth a colleague in the hopes of improving your odds?
 
As soon as money is involved, people are prepared to sell their dignity and self-respect to the highest bidder, and it's survival of the slickest and every man for himself.
 
IT'S ALL ABOUT ME
 
Take no prisoners. After all, the economy sucks and it ainít getting better any time soon.
 
If itís a choice between you and me, my friend, it better be me.
 
In an attempt to break into the business or simply stay afloat, people even start sinning against the Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness.
 
What do they tell you in this business?
 
If you can't make it, just fake it!
 
FRAUD ON THE INTERNET
 
Thatís why the almighty Internet is inundated with pretenders, posers, anonymous commentators and self-styled experts.
 
In this day and age where the latest is the greatest, nobody bothers to fact-check anymore. Itís the ideal opportunity to be whoever you say you are.
 
No questions asked. Itís in black and white. That means itís reliable, right?
 
Now, donít believe for one second that the people in our community are holier than the Pope. They are not.
 
A WEB OF LIES
 
Some of them are spinning a world wide web of lies.
 
Of course they donít call it that. They see it as innocent embellishments of the truth. The means justify the ends.
 
Meanwhile, they are walking around with their pants on fire.
 
Hereís my Top 10 list of the most common lies people tell to get ahead in our line of work:
 
1. Experience
 
Lie: "With years of experience under her belt, Carla can handle almost any project."
Truth: Carla has been at it for five months; part-time, that is.
 
2. Training and Coaching

Lie: "Roger has studied with some of the world's best coaches.Ē
Truth: He took an introductory course at the local community college.

3. Clients
 
Lie: "John has recorded voice overs for some of the biggest names in business.Ē
Truth: John wishes he had recorded voice overs for some of the biggest names in business.
 
4. Equipment

Lie: "Peter exclusively uses his trusted Neumann U87, arguably the best known and most widely used studio microphone in the world.
Truth: Peter doesnít even know how to correctly pronounce the name Neumann. He is the proud owner of a second-hand Chinese condenser he got off eBay for $65.

5. Home Studios
 
Lie: "Heather records her voice overs in her professional studio, guaranteeing you the highest audio quality possible."
Truth
: Heather hides inside a bedroom closet and she has no idea why this mattress foam wonít keep the noise out. She wonders: Should I have used egg crates instead?
 
6. Demos

Lie: It sounds like Thomas really voiced those national campaigns, doesnít it?
Truth: The scripts were stolen from auditions that never worked out. An audio engineer friend helped him with the music.
 
7. Languages and Accents
 
Lie: "Jerome speaks Dutch and is available for your eLearning projects."
Truth
: Jerome was born, raised and educated in Flanders (Belgium) and speaks Flemish. Dutch and Flemish are just as related and just as different as American and British English. Substitute Dutch and Flemish for other languages and accents to expose other actors.

8. Testimonials

Lie: "Jennifer was a delight to work with. Our company would not hesitate to hire her again.Ē
Truth: Jennifer never worked for "that company" and she is the author of this endorsement.

9. Headshots

Lie: We see a young, smiling face, staring confidently into the camera.
Truth: After 10 years, Harry doesn't look like his old head shot anymore. Heís become bitter and it shows. He also gained 20 pounds.

10. Believing that you wonít get caught

You see, people with real credentials have real experience and a real portfolio. They donít have to hide behind vague descriptions and false advertising.
 
The truth will always come out and when it does, it will damage a career that never was and probably never will be.
 
SPOTTING THE ROTTEN APPLE
 
You donít have to be a detective to find the fakers. Liars usually do a great job exposing themselves.
 
I was emailing one of my colleagues the other day, and he shared the following story with me:
 
"I've read your blogs regarding people that want to be a voice over talent with interest. I have some ideas on people that are "posing" as voice over talent and how to spot them immediately.
 
"For example: a young lady recently posted on a LinkedIn forum complaining that she wasn't being hired via sites like Voices.com and how obviously the system was flawed, and that was the reason she wasn't getting work.

"I visited her website to find that (through the placement of national logos for Burger King and Nissan) she had implied that she'd done voice over work for national companies.

"When I listened to her demo it was apparent that she had nowhere near the skill level of a national voice talent.

A STOLEN CLIENT
 
"Furthermore - on her website there was a mention of a client that she claimed as her client, when in fact, it had been MY client for more than four years.
 
"A quick check with producers led me to find that this person had never worked with that company.
 
"In short, she wasnít getting work because she sucked as a 'talent.'
 
"And yet, she couldn't hear this, and was angry with the world because she wasn't getting work.
 
"What are these people thinking? Do they really believe they can fool an experienced producer or creative service director?"
 
ACTORS ARE LIARS

People in our profession have a strange relationship with the truth. We get paid to pretend.
 
The most convincing liars get the nicest paychecks, an Oscar and a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
 
However, true talent, trust and integrity are the cornerstones of a successful career.
Trust must be earned.
 
True talent and integrity can never be faked.

Ainít that the truth?
 
What are some of the lies that you have spotted?

ABOUT PAUL ...
 
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. He also publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.
 
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Comments (8)
Paul Strikwerda
3/17/2015 at 8:18 AM
Normally, I don't respond to commentators who hide behind a pseudonym. I think people should have the decency to own up to what they have to say, online and offline. I'll make an exception for Mr. or Mrs. "Coeus," if only to set some facts straight.

"Coeus" seems to believe that I claimed to have been the original standard bearer for ABN. That would indeed be preposterous. All of us stand on the shoulders of the ones that went before us. I grew up listening to Philip Bloemendal and Donald de Marcas, and I have worked with Harmen Siezen and Joop van Zijl.

Newsreaders at the Dutch national and international service were selected and hired because they were able to continue to set that standard of ABN for a new generation of listeners. I was one of them.

It is incorrect that Radio Netherlands International (RNI) was only listened to when people were ďon vacation in foreign countries.Ē That was just one of the many services RNI provided.

Every year, an estimated 1.3 million Dutchmen are abroad for some reason other than vacation, and many of them listened to RNI (until the government shut it down in 2012).

The Dutch World Service was on the air 365 days per year with newscasts and other programs for the merchant navy, the military stationed overseas, expats, ťmigrťs, members of the Dutch foreign service, missionaries, development aid workers, and travelers. There were special shows for people in Surinam, the Dutch Antilles, South Africa, and in Indonesia.

Most of our listeners did not switch on the radio to have some background noise. They listened because they wanted to stay informed. Iíve also worked for Dutch National Radio, but never in my career have I received so much fan mail as in the days I worked for Radio Netherlands International. Till this day I am proud to have been part of that organization.
Coeus
3/16/2015 at 7:36 PM
So no lying in any way? Well Paul, on your website you claim: "As a former newsreader and anchor for Dutch radio, I set the standard for what is called ďAlgemeen Beschaafd NederlandsĒ or ABN." That is a bizarre claim and you know it. Generations of newsreaders in the decades before you set the standard. Just to name of few giants: Philip Bloemendal, Donald de Marcas, Jaap van Meekren, Fred Emmer, Arend Langenberg, Ad Hazewinkel, Harmen Siezen, Joop van Zijl, Rien Huizing, Hans Blankesteijn, etc. On top of that: you worked at RNW, the (former) Radio Netherlands World Service, where Dutchmen only listened to on vacation in foreign countries. Not the rest of the year, when they were actually in the country. There they listened to all those other newsreaders speaking flawless ABN well before they may have heard you a few times while sitting on a camping in France.
Earl Thomas
9/27/2011 at 12:02 PM
It is not worth it to land a voice-over script when it involves lying. I will go with the truth and continue to work hard at marketing my voice. Hopefully this article inspires others, Paul. Thanks for writing it.
Roy Wells
9/22/2011 at 7:42 AM
Paul, as per your advice, I read your blog page on website and going to dump my membership in voices.com which is getting me nowhere, and just try to get gigs on my own. Probably won't succeed and have to take up house painting. But it's useless to try competing with the whole world.
Paul Strikwerda
9/21/2011 at 10:40 PM
Roy, my Double Dutch blog is packed with advice for starting and seasoned voice actors alike. Simply go to my website and click on the blog-tab.

Amanda, an attorney recently ordered me not to use the term "Distinctly Dutch" on one of my websites. His client ran a translation agency and did some voiceover jobs on the side. Apparently, she had trademarked the term. It turned out that she was from Belgium and she spoke with a distinctly Flemish accent.

BP, it's never been easier to create a false online identity. Even well-known press agencies sometimes forget to fact-check, or they don't have the staff to do it.

Happy clients are my best credentials. The fakers will eventually meet their fate.
Roy Wells
9/21/2011 at 6:13 PM
Paul, you have covered what NOT to do in excellent fashion. How about some suggestions as to what TO do, to get oneself out of the audition herd. Work is getting harder and harder to come by. The pa- to-audition sites are getting more and more crowded, with more competition. What's a VO actor to do?
Amanda Cropper
9/21/2011 at 11:37 AM
Paul, you are particularly fired up in this article! Do you have a recent story about how this affected you?
BP Smyth
9/21/2011 at 7:58 AM
As always Paul, your articles are both entertaining and informative. In today's day and age of the internet, I would imagine it would be even harder to lie about experience, etc. without getting caught. Lying is just plain self defeating. Honesty is always the best policy in all business dealings. I think one problem in today's world, is that people "expect" instant success, so they are willing to lie to make that success happen. It rarely works if ever.
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