Translated to Japanese by Nozomi Kiuchi
Setting a reference point of Excellence and Proficiency is a decisive step in the history of any profession or industry on the way to reach its ultimate level of maturity.
And that was the challenge which Rudy Gaskins and Joan Baker decided to take, seven years ago..
The Voice Arts® Awards was first presented under the second Program held by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences back in 2013, the first Award presentation was made to Keith David on August 17th in the same year. The award was designed in partnership with R.S. Owens Company (the same manufacturers of the Oscar, Emmy and MTV Music Awards, among many others).
The program was an ambitious project, implemented to fill a critical void that was largely ignored by other award franchises like the Oscars, Emmys, and Clios, as an open competition voted upon by experts within the various fields that constitute the entry category. Two votes: one to determine the initial nominees and a second to determine the nominee to be designated the winner in each entry category. Several special awards (Lifetime Achievement, Icon, Legacy, Humanitarian, and Environmental Advocacy), are also awarded.
This year, our team has conducted an interview with Rudy Gaskins, Co-founder and Chairman of the Society Of Voice Arts And Sciences™ in New York to give you more details and insights on The Voice Arts® Awards, and its impact on the Voiceover industry:
What was your fundamental vision when you first thought about the idea of establishing a new criteria of awarding for the voice artists and professionals?
Rudy: The initial vision for the Voice Arts® Awards was, and remains, to acknowledge the incredible, indispensable work being done by voice actors in almost every sector of business and media throughout the world. Historically speaking, voice acting has been, by its nature, a behind-the-scenes job of great joy for voice actors, but almost completely anonymous. Naturally, the voice actors were happy to do it and didn’t expect it to come with the notoriety of on-camera actors. However, SOVAS recognizes that everyone deserves acknowledgment for doing a good job, and certainly for an exceptionally good job that stands apart. Voice actors, after all, devote their entire careers to this art form. An awards show was a great way to honor the industry and the right thing to do.
Do you believe this vision has been achieved yet?
Rudy: The promise of the vision was clear even before the venture was made public. This was clear when the great James Earl Jones came to our inaugural Award Gala to accept our Voice Arts® Icon Award. If that didn’t make a statement about the power of acknowledgment, then perhaps nothing would. It was powerful. But that wasn’t the pièce de résistance. The real test was witnessing the very first acceptance speech given by an everyday, non-celebrity voice actor, and the non-celebrity voice actors who’s speeches followed. The heart, soul, and humility expressed by these unsung talents is what showed me that we had hit the mark, and were doing some good in the world. The celebrities, by the way, were once unknown actors as well, so we don’t take their participation lightly. In fact, we relish their participation, and so does our audience. The level of excellence achieved by the celebrity honorees is what we all aspire to. No one aspires to mediocrity. When people like James Earl Jones, Lily Tomlin, Sigourney Weaver, Rosario Dawson, William Shatner, Van Jones, Ken Burns, Erin Brockovich, Michael Buffer, Ving Rhames, Jim Cummings, Lake Bell, and others show up to take our stage, it sends a resounding message of excellence, pride, and respect for what we do as members of the voice acting community. It gives us all something to which we can aspire.
How far have you been since 2013 until now, in terms of number of entries, categories, and Awards given each year?
Rudy: The awards entries have increased 150 to 200% year over year since the beginning. As we add more categories and continue to reach out internationally we hope to see more actors, producers, and content creators involved.
Do you plan to expand the outreach of this ambitious project to introduce The Voice Arts® Awards as a world reference of excellence and proficiency in voice arts across all languages or cultures?
Rudy: It’s already happening. We get calls from around the world to produce the Voice Arts® Awards in different countries and in different languages. We are looking into doing just that. It’s a very daunting challenge, for sure, but we’ve already come up with a strategy for making this a reality. I can’t say too much because it is all proprietary at this stage. Suffice it to say, it’s something that is quickly coming to fruition.
Arab Jurors on Board
Four years later, after launching this epic movement in the history of voiceover industry, Ahmed AlQotb, founder of THE ARABIC VOICE™ studios took the initiative and headed to New York in 2017 to be the first Arabic Voice Actor to attend Voice Arts® Awards ceremony, as an industry professional, and a Juror who came all the way across the Atlantic from the other side of the world, and the other side of human civilization to participate in the Gala, one year later, Chief Artistic Advisor of THE ARABIC VOICE™ studios and head of Lebanese Syndicate of Professional Artists. H.E. Jihad Al-Attrash has joined the board of Jury to become the second Arab Juror, and participate through the judging process since 2018.
The 8th Edition of The Voice Arts® Awards comes out this year amid several complications and circumstances that affected all businesses and every kind of social event around the world, the Gala will be conducted online with no physical attendance, however, Award entries, and categories have significantly increased, and all Jurors are up and running. Here in THE ARABIC VOICE™ we believe that this is the moment, when all Voice Artists and Professionals from all over the globe should stand for this ambitious vision to make it come true despite all the difficulties we are currently passing through, not only in American and European voiceover communicates and markets, but across all cultures and spoken tongues around the world from Japan, to California.