Movie Stars have them. Broadway actors have one too. SAG has theirs and countless performing arts hold theirs. But voiceover talent have never broken ground to have their own awards program. In spite of the many contributions the voice actor has made to movies and advertising, audiobooks and video games, and other niche areas of voice acting, few are celebrated for their work. Yes, the Academy Awards and other have a few awards that are handed out for animation and best selling audiobooks but what about the rest of us who aren’t in Shrek or who aren’t the President of the United States (President Obama has a Best Spoken Word Album Grammy for narrating his own book.) In steps in Rudy Gaskins with the Voice Arts Awards.
Rudy Gaskins has spent the past twenty plus years in advertising and television imaging, re-imagining and developing his own and the ideas of others. Having worked with big names like the late great Peter Jennings, and veteran news anchors like Diane Sawyer, as well as years with Court TV, the Food Network, The Olympics and others, Rudy is no stranger to proposing and executing big ideas. But he is not a voice actor. So what fuels his passion to step in and create an awards show for voice actors? I sat down with him to find out.
I of course knew who Rudy was dating back many years. In establishing and growing my voiceover career I stumbled on his ad agency “Push Creative” many years back. His wife Joan Baker’s book “Secrets of Voiceover Success” came out in early 2005 just months after I recorded my first voiceover demo. And continued googling of voiceover information and updates in later years lead me to their organization of SOVAS. So I was no stranger to their work or reputation. SOVAS when I looked it up, seemed to want to establish standards in voiceover. At least that’s how I looked at it. They also brought programs like “That’s Voiceover” which made it’s debut in 2007. But it was the event last year that really caught my eye that combined the new “Voice Arts Awards” with “That’s Voiceover” which offered the opportunity for voice talent and actors to audition with The Travel Channel for a web series. As an avid globetrotter, I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
The two events brought out voiceover stars from all over the country and also brought out the criticism. Questions regarding Rudy’s authority and authenticity swirled and divided voice actors who chimed in. Many feelings of the events supporters were hurt in the VO community, mostly by others who neither witnessed nor contributed to the event or by those who may have felt shut out. The Voice Arts Awards were described as an “awards for and by voiceover’s self crowned elite” and denounced as a pay to play event because of the cost to enter the awards, and to submit your name for consideration to win. This criticism seemed to ignore the tremendous cost of the venue (which was impressively grand), the designing and manufacturing of the award (which was finely and thoughtfully crafted by a renowned company) and the overall cost of putting on such an evening. Getting James Earl Jones there along with other big name celebrities may have had some cost associated with it, if for nothing else than hotel and transportation. Still the detractors studied carefully each word on the SOVAS websites to carefully tune their critiques.
But from my observation in being at the events, I witnessed the start of something that had great potential. In watching it unfold, I saw a Rudy Gaskins who was more so proud of the people who attended and were awarded then he was of himself for pulling off such a feat. In interviewing him, I found a confidence in him that not only could he repeatedly pull off the Voice Arts Awards simultaneously with That’s Voiceover, but he could continuously make the events bigger with each year. I grew to trust in his word that the Voice Arts Awards was born out his passion and appreciation for the Voice Over Artist. No, the VAA are not perfect. Certainly I’d like to see categories added for Radio Imaging and e-learning and other niches that go un-celebrated. But it’s a darn good start. And Rudy and SOVAS is thoughtful in incorporating the fine details to make it all feel right…. for those who want to feel right to begin with.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please subscribe to this page for more. Also check out my guest blog and video (as I blogged from the tallest building in Hong Kong) on Voice Over Herald this month entitled “The World Needs Voiceover & So Do I.” Its a personal look at what I’ve learned about voice over in my last few years of traveling the world. Click Here For That Blog.
Dane Reid is a Voice Over Talent, Radio Commercial Producer and Imager, Voice Over Youtube Channel Producer at http://Youtube.com/DaneReidMedia , Children’s Book Author, Entrepenuer & And Avid Global Traveler