The 1st Annual Voice Arts Awards Winners

Voice Arts Awards Winner - James Earl Jones
Photo Source: Noam Galai

“There is magic in the human voice,” said James Earl Jones, accepting the first-ever Voice Arts™ Icon Award. Created by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences as part of this year’s That’s Voiceover!conference, the Voice Arts Awards recognized the magic of the voiceover industry’s foremost actors at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 9. Rudy Gaskins, Joan Baker, and Steve Ulrich, the ceremony’s creators and presenters, hope to raise the profile of vocal talent worldwide, and promise to make the VAAs the “Oscars for Voice.”

Professionals in a wide-ranging cross section of entertainment media were honored at the ceremony in categories spanning film, television, commercials, audio books, and gaming. Jones’ award recognized his lifetime of elevating voiceover performance, including his work as Darth Vader in “Star Wars,” Mufasa in “The Lion King,” and at CNN, where his signature bass has introduced nightly news segments for decades. The actor attended the festivities with his fellow cast mates of the current Broadway hit “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Among the evening’s winners were Lori Alan, who took home statues for outstanding body of work and outstanding national television commercial; Jay Britton, who won both outstanding animation and commercial demo reel awards; and B.J. Novak (“The Office”), for his short story anthology “One More Thing,” featuring actors including Mindy Kaling, Jason Schwartzman, and Lena Dunham. Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb won best national television image promo for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, while VO Buzz Weekly picked up the award for outstanding voiceover podcast.

Over a dozen audio book categories honored artists reading for companies such as Listening Library, Podium Publishing, and Penguin Random House Audio, which had a banner evening with seven awards in total. Voiceover legend Joe Cipriano’s “Living On Air” earned audio book narration awards for both biography and author performance. John O’Hara, whose collection “The New York Stories” included the voices of Jon Hamm, Jan Maxwell, and Bobby Cannavale, won outstanding narration of classics.

The That’s Voiceover! conference, which is designed to connect aspiring artists with industry professionals, concluded Nov. 10 when the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences presented the Backstage Vanguard Award for Education (sponsored by Backstage magazine) to Pat Fraley. The actor and vocal trainer has lent his extraordinary talents to more than 4,000 animated characters in everything from “Monsters, Inc.” to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” television show.

The VAAs ceremony included a special tribute by Fraley, who introduced a video retrospective of the late Robin Williams’ career. A portion of the proceeds from the event funded the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Alzheimer’s Association. That the evening’s guest list was peppered with some of the voiceover acting world’s biggest names seems proof that the VAAs will serve as the measuring stick of this billion-dollar industry for years to come.

Voice Acting and the Myth of Rejection

As a voice actor, you may sometimes find yourself carrying the weight of rejection as a necessary price of admission. This burden results from unreturned phone calls, auditions you didn’t book, agents who’ve said no or a teacher who says, “You’re really improving but there’s still work to do.” It’s exacerbated by observing other actors booking gigs while you’re waiting to catch a break, or watching a great TV spot whiz by, only to recall that you auditioned for it?! It can be a difficult pill to swallow. After all, you too have bills to pay, family obligations, and a host of unexpected “stuff” coming at you at the speed of life. At a certain point, without the encouragement or affirmation of an actual booking, all this crap gets lumped into one bad feeling we tend to call rejection. Marilyn Monroe summed it up this way: “Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.”

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Why Enter An Awards Competition? 10 Reasons Why Awards Matter

Note: The Voice Arts™ Awards program (see announcement) – which is accepting nominations through August 24 – has drawn industry praise, such as this from popular voice talent/trainer Pat Fraley:

Yet skeptics question the program’s value and purpose. Below, Rudy Gaskins – producer, voice over coach, and one of the program’s creators – responds ...

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The Basic Idea of It All

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Welcome to Voiceover Exchange, where the exciting world of voiceover acting will be shared with clarity, accuracy, and a focus on creating a successful career. If your interest in voiceover acting is to enjoy a job you love at the highest level to which your talent can take you, then you’re in the right place.
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Finding the Best Voiceover Teacher for You

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The pursuit of a voiceover career almost always starts with the recognition of something distinctive about one’s voice. People are struck by a certain vocal quality and are compelled to identify it as “special.” Sometimes it’s as simple as the voice being deep and resonant or high-pitched and squeaky. Aside from the obvious qualities of vocal pitch and texture, the often unnamed reason that people pick up on a particular voice is the charisma that supports it. Confidence, calm, and authenticity are often the initial qualities that get a voice noticed.
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East Coast vs. West Coast: Where’s the Voiceover Work?

Voice actors often come to a crossroads as to whether the west coast or east coast will provide the most fertile ground for a gainful career, or whether they can truly live their dreams outside of these two media behemoths. New York and Los Angeles are generally the cities in question, though solid opportunities abound in Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and elsewhere. The good news is that you can have success on either coast, and being bicoastal or multi-regional is a growing reality, even if a virtual one. For most folks this quandary has to do with L.A. and N.Y. The challenge is taking a hard look at the differences between the two regions as they relate to your skill set, personal resources, lifestyle, and networking style. One of our readers, PaSean Ashley, framed her dilemma this way:

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Now That’s Voiceover!

You need only spend a few minutes in the voice over business before you hear the names Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins mentioned with the utmost respect and admiration. They’re the dynamic husband and wife team who create a literal “buzz” wherever they go with their charisma, talent, business savvy and zest for life.
We had been contemplating the options for having Joan and Rudy on the show for quite some time but with us being in Los Angeles and them being in New York City it was a cross-country challenge to say the least. We knew that Skype was an option but felt we needed to meet face-to-face to truly be able to appreciate all that Joan and Rudy bring to the table, both personally and professionally. With the help of our amazing mutual friend, Braintracks Audio super-coach Nancy Wolfson, the wheels were set in motion and months later we were finally able to work out all the details.

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Voices In My Head

Fringe Review: Voices in My Head

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You have heard Bill Ratner’s voice before.  Somewhere.  Some time.  You have heard it.  For me, he is a voice from my childhood.  He was the voice of Flint, one of the leaders of GI Joe (and to be frank, far cooler than Duke.)  So, at first, it was hard for me to shake those memories.  But once I did, once I was able to stop thinking, “Hey, that guy sounds like Flint…” I was able to really listen to a very moving, very personal story told by a master storyteller.

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The Voice of God?

As one of the auspicious few who have successfully navigated the world of voiceover acting, I couldn’t be more appreciative than I am. I have had the opportunity to work with great producers, writers, and voiceover actors around the world. I’m thankful every day for this extraordinary career. And yet I am often reminded of the voiceover industry’s limitations when it comes to advancing women fairly. Read more