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Business of VO: Awards and Self-Submission

“I’d like to thank the academy!” Who doesn’t dream of being an award-winning voiceover actor, recognized for their skill and efforts? A lot of people actually. It all depends on how you view the business of awards-shows. Anne and Gabby are on opposite sides of this coin (a shocking first!) So grab some popcorn and listen to today’s Game of Thrones inspired episode.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Actress Gwendoline Christie self submitted to the Emmys and got nomination for the award even though HBO refused to submit her for the award. This bold move got us talking.

  2. Awards bring validation to hard work and can also act as a marketing tool.

  3. Many people believe that awards can be bought or manipulated to an unfair degree.

  4. Those who can spend a large amount of money on submission can often dominate a show or its categories.

  5. It is generally considered a ‘fair win’ if a company or another entity is submitting the nomination.

  6. Is it purely ego to self-nominate?

  7. There’s no guarantee that you will win.

  8. But if the competition is limited, you are greatly increasing the odds of winning.

  9. There’s a lot of division in the voiceover industry as it relates to the S.O.V.A.S awards.

  10. A group nomination or a project nomination is generally respected because there are multiple parties receiving and benefiting from the award and it’s a team win.

  11. Category domination happens in virtually every award show.

  12. However, the opportunity does exist for everyone and anyone to submit.

  13. The words ‘Award Winning’ or ‘award nominated’ can be very effective marketing & sales tools.

  14. It’s up to an award show to create categories that are fair and well defined so that consideration is fair to all.

  15. Award events are expensive, time consuming and a very big undertaking for the organizers and creators.

  16. If you are considering entering into awards why not go big? Make sure that investment has the most notoriety and return for what is being made.

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Full Episode Transcrip

>> Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Today’s voiceover talent has to be a BOSS.

>> BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> Join us each week for business owner strategies and success with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabrielle Nistico, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.




Anne: All right, welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my bestie, Gabby Nistico!

Gabby: Hi!

Anne: Hey.

[both laugh]

Gabby: So did you see the recent news about “Game of Thrones” and Gwendolyn Christie?

Anne: Oh yeah. That’s a big thing. [laughs]

Gabby: So I want to talk about this. I mean, I think that most of our listeners know that, you and I, on most things, I mean, we agree with each other. We’re usually pretty in accord. And this is a topic where I think we kind of differ.

Anne: Maybe a little bit.

Gabby: It’s sort of fun.

Anne: Yeah. [laughs]

Gabby: Gwendolyn Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth, the beautiful Amazon [laughs] on the show, who really in the last season, and I’m not gonna spoil it, just in case people like you haven’t seen it, she steals the season in a lot of ways. Her character is just phenomenal throughout it. Well HBO, for whatever reason and the production team, decided not to submit her for the Emmys. So she self-submitted and got the nomination.

Anne: [laughs] Yes, she did. [laughs]

Gabby: It opens up a whole discussion, right, about industries, creative industries, certainly voiceover is part of that. You know, where do we stand on the awards things?

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: You want to kind of give me your two cents first?

Anne: [laughs] Well, I –

Gabby: Or should I just come in and be the bad guy? You tell me.

[both laugh]

Anne: Let’s talk about it. I mean, is it a necessity to have awards in an industry? I think it is. Awards in an industry bring validation to a person’s creative work and can work as a marketing tool for them.

Gabby: Yeah. Everybody likes recognition, and I certainly do believe that awards should exist to honor and to recognize exemplary work. And you know, that’s, at their core, their function.

Anne: And establish a benchmark.

Gabby: However, in smaller settings, small industries like voiceover, there’s sometimes the thought, and this is where I tend to lean, that you’re buying your own award. You are submitting, spending the money, paying the fees, ultimately you have to pay for the statue. Sometimes it can feel like he who has the biggest pocketbook wins.

Anne: Well…

Gabby: I don’t know why I give “him” a purse, but that’s ok.

[both laugh]

Gabby: Very progressive of me, I guess.

Anne: I think this is, I think it’s complex, Gabby. I think it’s a complex web. I think there’s a couple of different factors here. One is the nomination factor. Is someone nominating you versus you submitting yourself? You know, that’s the first point of, I don’t know, discussion?

Gabby: It is. And I think that’s the big thing. I know you and I both have won awards that way, where we have been submitted by the entity we work for or by a larger company and subsequently won. That’s all of my broadcasting awards were won that way. I still had to submit some of the base paperwork, but it was my employer saying we want to submit this for this.

Anne: That’s always, I think, an ideal. Right? I think that’s an ideal situation if you get nominated or if you get submitted by your employer or your boss or your coach. That’s the first step of validation. Right? Because a lot of this is, in the sense of ego, in the sense of personal ego and craft, it’s the first sense of validation that you get, that someone else thinks you have value and deserve an award. And I think that’s awesome.

Gabby: Yeah, and certainly if the judging is large, and the categories are big, and there’s a lot of submissions, I mean certainly we really do feel accomplished to just be nominated in a lot of those situations. I’ve won a handful of New York state broadcaster awards back in the day. I mean, that’s what they were. It was like holy cow, like I beat out the state of New York. That’s amazing. There’s yeah, there’s a lot of pride that comes with that. And also you’re right, the marketing piece I think is huge because then you as the individual or the company you work for can forward and say, hey, look what we did. A winner.

Anne: Nominated. You said something earlier, Gabby, that self-submission meant that you were buying your award. There’s no guarantee, Gabby –

Gabby: No, true.

Anne: – that you’re getting an award. There’s our first set of differences. I don’t think, just because you self-submit doesn’t mean you’re gonna get an award. However, if you’re in a smaller industry, I see where you’re coming from, and perhaps there’s not a lot of competition, it might be thought of that that’s what you’ve done. This has been a topic on the groups for a long time. There’s a huge division there. Some people are for these awards and think they’re fine and think they’re necessary, and then there are people who just say uh-uh, that’s buying an award and it’s not necessary.

Gabby: In voiceover, right, we have the SOVAS awards. It’s small. It’s a small industry. There’s a number of different categories. In the ad world, either the end client or the advertising agency responsible for a campaign or a piece of work says “hey, we think this is really, really great. We want to submit it for an award.” And then all the parties involved, the actors, the performers, the photographers, I mean literally everybody potentially gets a win.

Anne: Sure, and Gabby, this is what we did actually for our podcast and what I do my students where, if I think there’s a piece of work that’s credible and deserving of an award, I’ll submit. And I have no problem submitting because I’m acting as that mediary or maybe that employer that is saying, “you know what? I think this is good enough,” and if I submit on behalf of my student or I submit on behalf of our broadcast, we have a team of people. Just the fact that we get nominated is very, very helpful for, number one, marketing and also validation for my student. And I feel that there’s value in the work that they’ve done that’s worthy of an award.

Gabby: And I totally agree with that, yes, and that I’m fine with. Where I get upset with some awards shows or with some of these categories is that unfortunately what happens is, and you said it earlier, there’s no guarantees, there’s something to be said for not having a cap. There’s something to be said for people who will submit, and submit, and submit, and submit, whether it be to dominate a particular category or to dominate just the award in general, it’s a numbers game at that point. You’ve almost guaranteed yourself a win because you’ve submitted so much, and you’ve spent so much money.

Anne: Right, and if you’re thinking in terms of investing, really, that’s what it is. I see that on a grander scale, yes. If you’re talking about domination of an awards show, category or anything like that, then it does appear to look like you would be buying an award. But the opportunity exists for anybody. And so if not everybody is taking that opportunity to submit, then you’re kind of left with people pointing fingers and saying you’re dominating a category. Well, guess what? I mean, anybody can submit here. This is an open playing field, right?

Gabby: Sure. It’s sort of like the lottery, right? You’ve got to be in it to win it.

Anne: Exactly.

Gabby: Yeah. So I get that. But again, I think that in some cases if an industry is small, there should be a cap. There should be a limit to the number of times any one individual, coach, category, whatever it is, can submit. See, like in the case here with what happened with “Game of Thrones,” and there’s plenty of articles about this online right now, you know, “Game of Thrones” is unique because it has almost 30 series regulars in the cast. Their cast is flipping huge! It makes sense, right, you have a highly anticipated show, you have huge watch numbers, you have massive media appeal, so it makes sense that you’re going to submit. If you have 30 regulars, you might be submitting 10 or 15 people for best supporting actor.

Anne: Yeah. And that totally makes sense. [laughs] So are you in agreement with self-submission for that award?

Gabby: Mmm. I’m really not. I’m not a huge fan of it. I feel like again if there’s a secondary component, like as a coach, if I’m nominating one of my students or if I’m nominating a piece of work that was collaborative, I think that’s ok. As a voice actor, if one of my clients wants to nominate me, or they want to submit the campaign, I think that’s ok. I myself, just again because of the size of our industry, I don’t think I would self-submit. That’s just me.

Anne: That’s interesting. Last year I’m gonna say, I self-submitted, but like you say, it was a very special circumstance. I self-submitted my commercial demo for consideration because I had a number of people that were involved in a team effort to create that demo, and I was so insanely proud of that team and just adored everything they did. They just worked their butts off to create an amazing production, and my voice was just a tiny part of it. And so I submitted because I wanted the team to get some recognition for the amazing work that they did.

Gabby: And that’s cool.

Anne: So it wasn’t necessarily for me thinking “oh, I’m gonna win and then get the recognition and more work because I was the best voice” or whatever it is. It had nothing to do with that. I’m thinking if you’re talking “Game of Thrones,” it could be in the same vein, right? It was such a wildly popular show and so many talented, talented actors that I just felt that it was all a contribution to my success. And if I won, then the team won, because they would be named in the award as well.

Gabby: Completely. And I think that Gwendolyn Christie had the same idea here. I think in her case, she was kind of taking the stance of ok, you’re submitting all of these other people. Because mind you, there were about 10 other actors from the show that HBO had announced that they would be submitting, and she said “well, what about me?” “Well, you know, we have to put this person” — it became kind of political. And she said “ok, well, no problem, I’ll just submit myself.” I get that. I totally get her position there. I understand that. I think it was bold and I think it was brilliant at the same time. And the fact that she got the nomination is fantastic. And I mean, it’s like you’re saying, in the end, it is a group win. It’s a win for everybody. But I mean, let’s be honest. (?) for business owners, for small businesses, why do we submit to awards shows, why do we engage in that?

Anne: Marketing.

Gabby: Yeah, it’s sales and marketing.

Anne: Marketing, sales and marketing.

Gabby: Who doesn’t want to have that little –

Anne: That credit.

Gabby: – line. Yeah. Somewhere in their content that says, “award-winning,” or “xyz nominated.”

Anne: And if it involves multiple team members and people, that just makes it all the better, if you ask me, which is why I am in support of that type of thing. But I think a cap has a lot of merit, Gabby. Do they have a cap for the Emmys or the Grammys or the other awards ceremonies?

Gabby: I don’t think so. Because remember, the Emmys has multiple categories even, it’s so huge you not only have the Emmys, you have regional Emmys. People can submit in multiple categories that way. I believe the regionals were created specifically because, I mean, smaller programming, they have no chance. Right? They can’t compete with something like “Game of Thrones,” and that was sort of the answer to it. I think that was kind of their way of creating not a cap, but a category in which smaller programming wouldn’t be put up against something major like an HBO. There’s a huge political piece. With any awards show, you always see the, you know, “thank you for your consideration” notices and the ads that are taken out in “Vanity Fair.” There’s big business in that.

Anne: Absolutely. If you’re gonna critique an entity that’s going to have an awards show, I just think that you’re not looking at the bigger picture. I mean, we are all businesses. There are mission statements for our businesses that we all have, and coming from the awards ceremonies that we have now — the SOVAS, I think it came from a place where it was to celebrate work that deserved creditation.

Gabby: Sure.

Anne: And to be a positive focus for the community, and something to maybe strive for. There are other people who don’t necessarily feel that way, and they’re not necessary. And so it’s such a division. The people that don’t agree with them in our own industry I believe also don’t like the Emmys, or the Grammys, or any other awards show as well. So I think, it’s funny that you probably just have that you’re for it or you’re against it. I don’t know how much in between you got.

Gabby: That’s what’s weird. I think I’m really somewhere in the middle. I’m not against them, I don’t dislike them entirely. I just don’t always like the rules of submission.

Anne: Sure.

Gabby: And again, the perception is an award can be manipulated based on the number of entrants, things like that.

Anne: Things can be manipulated whether it’s an award show or a business, right, or a company. For me it’s fair game. I like to look at the positive aspects of things. Not that you don’t. I just saying that I always like to say, I like to think all companies are good and not evil, and all awards shows have an underlying mission of creating a sense of value for the community. And I like to, I guess maybe that’s naïve.

Gabby: Anne, it’s fine. You’re an optimist. I’m not.

Anne: [laughs] Is that what you call it?

Gabby: I think everyone’s evil, and yeah.

Anne: Evil! Everything is evil!

Gabby: Why don’t voice actors shoot higher? The SOVAS are cool. Okay great. We have an award now. We have something to strive for. Voiceover categories exist elsewhere. There are Emmy categories for voiceover. There are Grammy categories for voiceover.

Anne: This is absolutely true.

Gabby: I feel like if you’re gonna self-submit, if you’re gonna do it, go big. Go all the way to the top.

Anne: Go outside the industry. There’s award shows everywhere. There’s like the Webby awards and a bunch of other awards, trying to think –

Gabby: The Addys, the Tellys, what’s gonna give you the most bang for your buck if you’re making that investment? Because if you do see it as part of your marketing, you’ve got to take all things into consideration. And I don’t know that people always look at this. When you submit for an award, I don’t care what it is, there’s a fee to enter, there is, if you do get the nomination, hello, you kind of have to go.

Anne: [laughs] So there’s an expense.

Gabby: There’s a ticket, right, there’s a dinner.

Anne: You’ve got to wear clothing usually.

Gabby: Gonna say, you can’t show up like shlub. You’ve probably got to rent a tux or get a gown.

Anne: Exactly, exactly. There’s transportation.

Gabby: Oi.

Anne: There’s hotel, there’s all sorts of expenses involved.

Gabby: There really are. And so you have to sort of work that into the total budget. You have to think about all of those components. Not that it’s a guarantee that you’re gonna spend it, but it’s a possibility for sure.

Anne: Let me just step back, because I know that there are people out there that will say it’s just about the money. It’s all about the money that these awards ceremonies are making. Let’s just step back for a moment and think about the cost of the venue. People don’t necessarily think of everything involved in putting on an event like that. One of the reasons I really do is because my husband has been doing events for 30 years.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: And so I understand the costs involved in hosting an event, doing something as broad and extensive as an award ceremony. Even if you think it’s small, it’s not. There’s an incredible cost –

Gabby: Oh yeah.

Anne: — to having that event. So the cost you’re paying to submit, part of that’s going for the cost of the awards show, and the work that it takes leading up to a huge event like that. Anybody that has done a big event like that knows it can take a full year of someone’s time or multiple people’s time to actually create something that’s successful.

Gabby: It’s a ton of work, it’s a ton of money. It’s one of the reasons why many, many awards shows are one and done. They don’t exist for year two or three because they pretty much bankrupted themselves on the first one. Very expensive thing to do.

Anne: I’m gonna just give the SOVAS, Rudy and Joan, credit, because they’re now what, their fifth year?

Gabby: I believe so, yeah.

Anne: Trying to say, it takes a lot to put on event on like that five years in a row. And they switch locations.

Gabby: They bring in a celebrity presence.

Anne: Oh, they do. Absolutely.

Gabby: And they always have a beautiful venue, and they’re making a star-studded event for our industry. There’s no doubt about that. And I think all of that’s fantastic for the extroverts in our world. Yippee. [laughs] I would rather watch it on television personally than be there live.

Anne: I want to buy a gown!

Gabby: Yeah, I know. I’m good. See like, I’ll help you buy your gown. I’ll go gown shopping with you.

Anne: It’s an event that becomes a social event as well. It really does.

Gabby: If you’re going to submit to things, why, where, bang for buck, and another part is the notoriety piece. An Emmy is an Emmy is an Emmy, whether it’s regional or national, or whatever it is.

Anne: Yeah, exactly.

Gabby: Boy, does that name hold some weight. So if you have participated in something, at least approach the other parties involved the way Gwendolyn Christie did, and try to get them to pay for some of it. Try to get them to participate. Because why wouldn’t you want to?

Anne: Support. You want the support.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: You wouldn’t want to defeat the purpose of your marketing. Let me ask you a question, do you think she did it for marketing purposes?

Gabby: I honestly believe, knowing a little bit about her career, knowing a bit about her as an actress, and a model, and sort of a spokesperson, she’s very female positive.

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: She had a very tough role with this character.

Anne: She sure did.

Gabby: There’s so many things I think that are politically wrapped up in this, and I think for her, it really was this sort of –

Anne: It was a statement.

Gabby: It was. If you’ve not seen this woman out of makeup, out of “Game of Thrones” character, oh dear God, she’s like 6’3″, she’s statuesque, she’s gorgeous. Here she is going, you know, “I played this character with this very androgynous, all these complex emotions and plot lines,” and she worked her ass off –

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: – to do this for the last eight years.

Anne: You just echoed [laughs] the sentiment of what I believe, anybody that submits in our industry for their award, right? They worked, they worked their chutzpahs off. And so they’re making a stand.

Gabby: I take that. That I’m all about. You know me. Fight the man. Yes.

[both laugh]

Anne: Hey, I would love to hear what our listeners think. You guys –

Gabby: You guys should join the conversation.

Anne: Yeah, send us some feedback. You can do that on our website. We’re so available, and We’re so available for you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. [laughs]

Gabby: Guys, huge shout-out to our sponsors., it’s starting, it’s brewing. Things are happening. It’s very exciting.

Anne: I’m getting stuff in my inbox now, which is pretty cool.

Gabby: Starting to get the audition notices. Check them out if you haven’t already, guys. Efficient, fair, transparent,

Anne: And a big shout-out to our sponsor that allows us to connect together every single week, ipDTL. You can find out more and connect like a BOSS at

Gabby: I would give ipDTL an award if I could.

Anne: Yes, they deserve an award.

Gabby: Yeah, they really do.

Anne: All right, guys, have a great week, and we’ll see you next week.

Gabby: Bye!

Anne: Bye!

Announcer: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved, Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.