Not everyone approves of the #metoo movement, but the fact is, it’s real and it’s happening. What does this have to do with voice over? A sad fact is that predators also prey on voice over talent. A recent story has come to light about a highly respected coach by the name of Peter Rofé. I’ve been fortunate to work with TRUE coaches who are masters at the craft and helped me get where I am. However, I know that only so many other VO talent can claim the same thing. It really made me angry when I learned a horror story that happened to my friend Heather Costa, an amazingly talented voice. And because I’ve been a victim of sexual harassment twice I my life, I felt compelled to make sure this story was shared everywhere, especially to new potential talent reading my blog.
NEVER do anything that makes you uncomfortable! You’re going to hear that a lot. Think about this: A new, inexperienced voice over talent versus a respected, well-known professional voice over talent and coach. Which side are the top pros in voice over likely to take? The new talent not only risk being humiliated and taunted by top professionals, they risk getting blacklisted or sabotaged like my friend. As a result, so many innocent women have been forced to abandon their dreams of working in voice over.
My friend fought back and is now a super-respected, admired and successful voice over. Not only that, she’s working to make sure this won’t happen to others:
“We know there are more victims out there. The dates we know of go back to 1999. We are working with a detective and a lawyer.” she says. ”
I’m so very, very proud of Heather for being brave and fighting back. But it hurts to learn that lots of other women were forced to walk away from their dreams and that no one came to their defense. We all know this happens everywhere in all professions, at schools, etc. And yes, it doesn’t just happen to women, it happens to men, too.
Rather than continue ranting about the situation as a whole I’m going to list things that a true coach has taught me and warning signs to run not walk from a bad coach/predator.
-kept a respectable distance while directing me.
-the only touching allowed and respected is a handshake or a hug (which I reserve for people I know well after various workshops). Some prefer a fist bump, and some don’t want contact at all for health reasons.
-if a script required a ‘sexy’ read I was given references to voices from characters like Jessica Rabbit as just one example. I was never told to sound like I wanted to $&#^*€> someone’s brains out.
-if I didn’t want to be all alone I was allowed to bring someone with me. I have worked with producers alone when it came to demos, but they NEVER made passes or such. Always ask if you can bring someone with you if you’re uncertain.
-encouraging you to remove clothing for a “convincing” read.
-touching without permission!
-suggesting only sexy reads.
-Saying VO acting is no different from real acting and real actors have to get naked in movies for their art.
-telling you how sexy you look or how your voice turns them on.
-Tells you that if you “aren’t selling sex” you’ll never be a respected voice over talent.
-stays with you in a tiny booth when no one else is in the studio and tries to touch or assault you. Booths are sound proof and your screams won’t be heard.
-turns the lights out when it’s only the two of you.
-gets angry when you don’t follow their directions even when they make you uncomfortable or threatens to “ruin” you.
If you have doubts or uncertainties, ask for opinions on voice over social media groups. Please read this entire article from CNN and if any of this has happened to you, don’t be silent, because you’re not alone.