A Voiceover by Any Other Name...
by Peter Drew
Everyone probably agrees what an auto mechanic, an insurance salesperson, and a baker do for a living. Sure, each of these people might specialize in a particular aspect of their chosen fields, but at rock bottom they each have a simple name to describe their jobs. And, in general, that's the way it is with most occupations.
Of course, there are exceptions. What do you call someone who reads scripts into a microphone for a living?
For those of us who belong to this particular job fraternity, selecting a job title can be confusing. Let's see, there's voice talent, voice over talent, voice-over talent (to hyphenate or not to hyphenate), voiceover talent, voice artist, (here we go again) voice-over artist, voiceover artist, voice actor, voice over actor, voice-over actor, voiceover actor, narrator. And for those from the UK, the total blending of job and title: voiceover.
Quite the selection, eh? And it goes beyond the job title to the actual job itself. Are you in the field of voice over, voiceover, voice overs, voice-overs, voiceovers, voice artistry, voice acting, narration...?
Personally, I tell people I do voiceovers. When I write to people, I spell it as one word: voiceovers. If I need to give my job a descriptive name, I say I'm a "voice over talent" or just " voice talent."
Now, of course, on some days I'm tempted to call myself any number of things besides titles with the word "voice" in them. It depends on the work load and types of VO I have to do. Things like "professional blabbermouth" and "screaming idiot" come to mind on those days when hard-sell auto dealership spots dominate the day.
Other days, when a truly sublime piece of copy comes my way, I'm tempted to call myself not just a "voice artist," but a "voice artiste." That extra "e" and the pretentious fact that the word must be pronounced "ar-teest" definitely connote my status as a communicator of extraordinary merit.
And when I voice a script for an online interactive application, I just call myself a "Hal"--as in HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Question: "So, Peter, what do you do for a living?" Answer: "Me? Oh, I've been Hal-ing for a number of years now."
So, what's in a name? Well, in the field of blabbermouthery...or (select one)...
a) voice over
...it really doesn't matter what you call me--just as long as you call me. Um, preferably with a gig.
© Peter Drew