I’m A Voice Actor. You Probably Are too.
Hi, my name is J S Gilbert, and like many of you reading this blog, I wear several hats. What I’ve mostly done for over 2 decades is work as a voice talent. If you watch tv, you’ve probably heard me as the voice for Clorox, Chevy trucks, McDonald’s, Phillips 66, Sprint and a whole bunch of other commercials. Some of you gamers may know me as Sweet tooth from Twisted Metal or as Udyr, Mundo and the voice of several other champions from League of Legends. My voice has been on 300+ games. Toss in e-learning, audio books, corporate narration, impersonations, kid’s toys and talking greeting cards and, well I guess I feel qualified to call myself a voice talent or voice actor.
What’s funny is that when I told people I did voice acting 25 years ago, the response was most often, “Voice acting, what’s that?” About 15 years ago, the response changed to “Voice acting that’s cool.” And about 8 years ago it changed to “Voice Acting, hey dude can you hook me up doing some voice acting?”
Last year I went to a local “industry mixer”, where there was everything from gaffers to makeup artists to line producers, audio engineers, animal wranglers, game developers, stuntmen, etc. Every time somebody introduced themselves to me, I introduced myself back, usually saying something like, “I’m J S Gilbert and I’m a voice actor”. Afterwards, almost every one of them said, “Voice over? Yeah I do that too.”
About 7 or 8 years ago I invited many of the people who hired me to do voice over to join me in LinkedIn. Generally, about 20% accepted my invitation. But then I noticed that these ancient invites were being accepted over the past year or two, a good 5 or 6 years after they were sent. Usually from people I had long lost touch with and usually followed with a personal message via LinkedIn saying something like “Hey, I’m doing voice over now and I thought you might have some tips for me.” Or the word might be “leads” or even on occasion, “work”.
I realize that for many of us that consider ourselves “professionals”, we have to face pains everyday where some entitled individual thinks we should pay it forward by giving them our client list. If we’re not dodging disturbingly low offers for our services, we have to be wary of someone else who figures their $50 piece of software can substitute for a trained graphic designer, a composer, sound designer or any other creative.
So, as you fight for the respect you deserve as a professional, be aware that you are far from alone. Also think about whether you have been giving other professionals the respect they deserve and bringing the “best and brightest” you can to your projects and work.
When we meet, and you tell me you’re a sound designer or composer, or whatever, I’ll try not to say “me too”. I hope that after I introduce myself as a voice talent, you also won’t say “me too”.
J S and his dog Fresca hang out in his ISDN equipped studio waiting for the “big call”. J S spends much of his day taking naps, hanging out in the hot tub or getting massages and occasionally gets hired by people who haven’t started doing their own voice overs yet. Check out the video “Who is J S Gilbert” at http://jsgilbert.com