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Business of VO: Political Voiceovers

Politics IN voiceover? UGH don’t even go there. Political voiceover work? HECK YES! There are some really great benefits to working the political scene. We explore the pros, cons and process of mining for political gold. We’re getting ahead of campaign season and exploring the possibilities of working with your party.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Happy 4th of July!

  2. Season 3 of VOBoss is officially underway and the Bosses want to hear from you. Send your comments, episode ideas and questions to

  3. 2020 will be a really BIG year for political advertising in radio, TV and new media.

  4. While local elections and campaigns take place every year and create a lot of opportunities for work.

  5. Engaging in political work doesn’t necessarily mean you have to choose a party. Sometimes you do.

  6. Many clients want to ensure that you haven’t done any work for a competing campaign or candidate.

  7. Some voice actors avoid political work altogether because political can be a conflict in their primary area of voiceover work.

  8. There are voice actors who are service providers to a particular political party.

  9. This work largely generates from working closely with campaign managers.

  10. Your own political views and beliefs should be kept to yourself in large part.

  11. Use Google to find contacts and make direct connections with voiceover providers related to politics.

  12. Political jobs have a very fast turnaround – scripts may need to be recorded within an hour.

  13. Your political demo should begin with the causes and issues that are close to you.

  14. Performances for political ads vary greatly now – from old announcer style to very real people.

  15. Minorities are hugely in demand for political voiceovers. Women, Latino, African American, Asian American and more are being sought in droves.

  16. We cannot be shy or quiet about what we support, however there’s a professional way to do it in order to attract clients.

  17. Feel free to pass on political jobs that don’t fit your life. But avoid lecturing the hiring party.

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Full Episode Transcript

>> 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: Hey everybody. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my amazing bosstie-bestie, Gabby Nistico. Hey Gabby!

Gabby: Hey Anne.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: So hey, we got some fan mail.

Anne: I love fan mail.

Gabby: I know! It’s so much fun. I love when people actually reach out to us. So I just want to read this real quick. Jim Cooper. I don’t know where he’s from, he didn’t say that part, but he said “I so very appreciate your podcast about ‘why me.’ Tooling down the road listening to the episode, I had a mind blowing epiphany.” And he says “I’ve spent two years auditioning, focusing on being professional, or at least what I imagine professional is supposed to sound like, rather than being me. Thank you for your words.” Very sweet. Thank you, Jim. We appreciate that.

Anne: Thanks, Jim.

Gabby: Glad we could be of help, and we’re officially in the season three, right? We’ve been at this wackiness for three solid years.

Anne: Yay!

Gabby: I know! We want to hear more from you guys though. We want to hear the things that you did, the things that you want to hear more of in our podcast, episode ideas that you might have, yeah. Questions, feedback, all of it. Just shoot us an email to the

Anne: Bosses for president, Gabby. Bosses for president.

Gabby: Oh dear.

Anne: Speaking of that. [laughs]

Gabby: Politics.

Anne: You know, we have a political season coming upon us.

Gabby: We do, and of course on the heels of that we have 2020 which is gonna be a big, big political year.

Anne: Huge. We should talk about political voiceover and how it can affect your business.

Gabby: I don’t fancy myself a political voice actor per se, but I, like everyone else, I do get hired for it. And I have recorded many of them over the years. I’m sure you have too.

Anne: And I did just finalize a new political demo too to get in preparation because I know that the demand out there for voices for anything political is going to be high. So I wanted to ready myself for the new, the upcoming, the upcoming election.

Gabby: Smart, very smart.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: And I think, you know, a lot of voice actors shy away from political work because well, two things. I think one, they think “ugh it means I’m choosing or I’m picking a side, or I’m, you know, whatever like party alignment,” and that they don’t want to be political, which I get. Depending on what your voice career entails, and the sorts of jobs that you take, politicals may not be the wisest thing. But for the rest of us, you know, I think that they’re a pretty nice little supplement to our income at a time of year when most people are actually seeing sort of a decrease in work.

Anne: And here’s the big question I think most people have in their minds. Do you have to pick a side? Do you have to?

Gabby: There’s an interesting debate on this. So some people say no, some people say yes. I say yes. The companies that typically hire me for political work, the middlemen, agencies and the like, typically their end clients want to know where the talent falls to make certain that you have not done any work for a competing party.

Anne: Campaign, yeah. Exactly.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Or campaign.

Gabby: Or campaign. And certainly, especially in a similar or a very close market.

Anne: Mm-hmm.

Gabby: They want to make sure of that.

Anne: And that makes sense.

Gabby: Some people are like no, no, no. We do it all. And I’m like mmm.

Anne: Yeah. And they advertise themselves – but I think, Gabby, it depends where the work is coming from. As you mentioned, if it’s coming from an agent, that might be where the agent is going to get the business, that might be for larger political campaigns or candidates, and so therefore they’re very concerned about where your voice has already been, and if it could potentially be, you know, opposing –

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: – their views. But if you think about local, and here’s where I do a lot of local like year-round, for local campaigns, it’s not as big of a, I’m gonna say, issue for the people that are hiring, because a lot of times those people find me just on my website.

Gabby: And I’ve had a bit of that too. Sometimes the ones who reach out to you direct don’t even ask.

Anne: Right, I know. You’re just like, “here, can you do this? How much will it cost?”

Gabby: Yeah, and there’s sort of a funny like hmm… I don’t want to make it sound like don’t ask, don’t tell, but you know, there’s an irony to that. If a client is not asking about exclusivity, or usage, or conflict –

Anne: And you’re good with it, I say, you get the content, go.

Gabby: Take the work.

Anne: There’s a lot of that local kind of work that comes to me that way where people don’t ask. And I’m like as long as I’m OK with the content. You know what the content is when they deliver that script. That’s pretty much how they come to me. They’ll give me the script and let’s say, what will you charge? It’s not even [laughs] asking for political affiliation.

Gabby: The other thing is I find too if the spot is for a prop or a bill as opposed to a candidate –

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: They’re less concerned about that. However I’ve over the years met a number of voice actors who make a fan-flipping-tastic living –

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: – once every four years. [laughs]

Anne: Absolutely!

Gabby: Being a major, major service provider to a particular party. And from what I have been told, because campaign managers speak to one another and work so closely together within a party, that’s typically how someone rises to a level of notoriety as either a Democratic or a Republican or a Liberal voice actor.

Anne: That begs the question, Gabby, how do you market yourself as a political voiceover? Because I’m thinking that perhaps not social media necessarily, by getting yourself involved in discussions. I don’t think that that’s any way, shape or form a way to advertise the fact that you’re available for political voiceover. [laughs]

Gabby: No, because your own political views and beliefs still have to be kept under wraps, and you still have the respect the bigger picture. If you want to be a political service provider, then you, yeah. You’re best to keep your own views to yourself. I do think a lot of it is web presence. I think it’s being very bold in the statement of the advertising that you’re doing and the thing that you want to be known for. But I think a big thing really is reaching out to campaign managers and speaking with marketing people for candidates early. Very early. Not, you know, a few months before the election. Sometimes years before an election.

Anne: Oh yeah. Guys, again Google is your friend. Anne Gan-Google says [laughs] Anne Gan-Google says Google is your friend because there are political rosters out there. And there’s not –

Gabby: Oh yeah.

Anne: In my last search, there’s not a ton of them out there. But the people on the rosters are good, I mean excellent voice actors, and it’s a nice listing that I am seeing on the rosters. So I would say that if you could do yourself a Gan-Google search and find those rosters, and see what you can do to get on them, that’s step one. Also contacting your agent and finding out if they do political voiceover, if they do, you probably are aware of it. Or trying to find out is there an agent around that perhaps specializes or a production company –

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: – that does a lot. I know there’s a couple of them that I’ve got my eye on, that I’m [laughs] gonna try to get on their roster.

Gabby: Political – I don’t think it gets a lot of love. [laughs]

Anne: Well, because it’s so controversial.

Gabby: Yeah, and it gets overlooked. One thing that I can say that’s a big positive for political jobs is they’re fast.

Anne: Mmm. True.

Gabby: The pay is decent. And man, these jobs are quick, the turnaround is sometimes magnificently fast. So that’s something you have to make sure that you’re available for and able to fulfill. Political clients can’t wait a day or two to get you in the studio. It’s usually like “we need this in the next 15 minutes.”

Anne: And remember, guys, this isn’t just what you see on TV. It’s politicals everywhere. Political is now on video ads you see on YouTube, on Facebook, oh my gosh, how many calls have I already gotten on my phone?

Gabby: So when you said earlier that you had made a political demo in preparation for the season –

Anne: I did.

Gabby: – tell me a little bit about that. What did you do with your demo? Is it multiple parties, is it a specific alignment? What did you end up creating?

Anne: So I kind of started – it has a slight sway to one side. Nothing that I think is too, I think like my personality, nothing that’s too controversial. I focused a lot on issues, and I went from there. On any demo I feel that if you’re connected to the material, that’s gonna really showcase your voice. I picked issues first of all that I felt confident with, and then when I had candidates, I mean my political demo is a variety of candidates plus political issues, plus, you know, local, national, that sort of thing. In reality I only have one or two spots that were of a particular person. Everything else was issue-based and party based but not like – you would know if you were on that party, you would know what I was talking about, which side. But yeah, it’s, it’s kind of got a little bit of everything, and I wanted it to be that way, so it could reach out and showcase all the different styles of political that, you know, are out there.

Gabby: There’s still a very Uncle Sam-ish sort of, I don’t know, authoritative, almost barking that people associate with political ads.

Anne: Yeah, yeah.

Gabby: Very passé.

Anne: Absolutely. It’s almost back to the old announcery kind of, campaigny like style.

Gabby: Yeah, that stuff is gone. Like most of the politicals I see are actually calling for someone to be a real person, who is expressing their standpoint on a particular issue.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: Very laid-back, very casual, very believable, a little, a little passionate of course. But for the most part, just again a real person. And so, I think that too kind of expands the opportunities in political, and people don’t always realize that.

Anne: There’s always the person that has been affected by a candidate or an issue, and that is the one, I’m gonna say, that’s that one real person style that comes in to play. And then there’s always kind of the tagline, you know what I mean?

Gabby: Right.

Anne: But I’m gonna say, those taglines still sound, they’re very, they’re very authoritative in terms of like, not necessarily forceful, but very bold, almost announcer style.

Gabby: Oh yeah.

Anne: So you’ve got a lot of different styles going on there to get people to pay attention. And so they’re going to put something that’s gonna just draw you in to the story. They try to rile up your emotions.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: You’ve got all sorts of really cool styles that you can, that you can showcase your voice with.

Gabby: That’s true, and something I’ve also really been prompting people with over the last few years, and it’s only gonna continue, minorities are incredibly in demand –

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: – when it comes to political right now.

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: So if you’re bilingual, if you’re African-American, if you’re Asian American, if you’re, gosh, I don’t know. If you have a strong tie to the –

Anne: Women. I think you really need to keep on trend with what’s happening in the world and put that in your demo.

Gabby: Yeah, the LGBTQ community.

Anne: Yep, yep.

Gabby: We’re at this wonderful place where political voices are all voices.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: And there’s a shortage in some of those areas because I think the difficulty is some of us as voice actors don’t necessarily want to step forward, for instance with something like LGBTQ rights. We may be a supporter, but we may not want to out ourselves, or you know, to talk about ourselves personally, but sometimes making those statements in a way that is very clear helps a potential candidate to find you. If we’re quiet about those things, then they don’t know.

Anne: My first spot is a #metoo spot. You know, it’s again, it’s issues that are close to me, that I feel can showcase the currency, relevancy, and something that I feel strongly about, and not necessarily, you know, too tremendously controversial either. [laughs]

Gabby: Yeah, well –

Anne: It is something I feel strongly, I want to take a stand, and so therefore I’m showcasing.

Gabby: Well on the flipside of that, guys, just a little note. If you do find yourself in a position of being approached for a political campaign or ad, and you disagree with the message, that’s fine. You are absolutely 100% ok to pass on the job or turn it down. However, please, please, please, please avoid the lecture.

Anne: Oh gosh. Yeah. That’s good advice.

Gabby: Yeah. When I was in casting, we saw it more with political than with anywhere else.

Anne: Oh wow, yeah. I can believe that.

Gabby: Normally people just pass on a job. They’re like, “no, that’s not for me, thanks.” Political it’s “no, it’s not for me but let me tell you why!”

[both laugh]

Anne: There’s probably nothing that will turn away a casting director quicker than –

Gabby: God, yes.

Anne: And that’s not just gonna hold for your political beliefs, guys. That’s gonna hold for any job that casting director might have for you.

Gabby: Yes, it has a bigger picture effect. It’s a longer-term effect. Because to be perfectly honest, at that point, guys, it becomes difficulty. It becomes difficult to work with you whereas just a simple “pass” is great. But when it becomes you getting in to your political beliefs and getting on that soapbox, people remember.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: You don’t want them to remember you for that.

Anne: So Gabby, do you have a political demo or demos?

Gabby: I don’t. I get sought out, when I typically get approached by politicals, simply because they want that very real, genuine sound. In my case a lot of it comes down to geography. I’m either being asked to make it slightly more southern or slightly more northern, one or the other, depending on where it’s for.

Anne: And so you’re getting those opportunities then, because you’re not advertising anywhere, you don’t have a demo, through agencies.

Gabby: So one of my agents, who’s heavily involved in political, created a political demo for me.

Anne: A-ha, nice.

Gabby: I don’t think I even –

Anne: Of work that you’ve done. Of work that you’ve done. Got it.

Gabby: Yeah. They just took it upon themselves to make something. I think some of them were actual spots and some of them were auditions. I don’t even think I’ve even heard the demo. I don’t know where it is.

Anne: Hey, there’s a great agent for ya. We’re thinking, what do agents do? Here’s a good one. Right here in the flesh, somebody that actually created a demo for – that’s how much they believe in Gabby and Gabby’s work, right, that they created a demo for her and put it up on their site, their roster. I think that’s fantastic.

Gabby: They were like, “we’re gonna put this together and get it out there because we think you could be booking more of this.” I was like “oh, sure, OK.”

Anne: I love that. That’s like such a great example of how an agent and a talent can work together.

Gabby: For sure. But there’s a flip side to that. The flipside is I have to be very careful to make sure I’m available for this client, for political work. Because they put in the work. They put in that effort, and then if I, if I can’t fulfill, man, I look like a jackass. So I prioritize them a little higher when it comes to political work. Outside of that, I do get people who just find me on my website.

Anne: Are they a particular party or a particular, what –

Gabby: No.

Anne: The roster, no? They just serve –

Gabby: No. Everything.

Anne: They serve everything. Have you ever turned down an opportunity with them? That’s the question.

Gabby: Not with them, I don’t think so.

Anne: Any others?

Gabby: I’ve been fortunate in that because my brand and branding is so specific, and it is a little bit edgy, and it does lean to the left, that more often than not, when I’m approached for political work it, it is something that I’m already aligned with. And it is something that speaks to me. So I’m more than willing to get behind it. I don’t see a lot of requests for the other end. Too pro-life or just too rigid in a viewpoint, yeah, I would pass on it.

Anne: Yeah, that’s a hot topic. [laughs]

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: That is a hot topic right now.

Gabby: That’s one of those things where I’m like, I can’t, I can’t take it just because I don’t want to be a hypocrite in that. That’s not –

Anne: I’ve actually said no to a campaign twice. I just read the content in the copy, and I was like “mmm, you know what, I don’t really, I’m not into this. This is not me. It really goes against every grain of fiber that I have.”

Gabby: That’s it right there is that if, at the end of the day the message or the cause is not what you believe, then you, right, wrong or indifferent, you effectively become part of the problem.

Anne: “Here’s my smut campaign. Would you, would you voice this and how much?” And I just, I looked at it and I said “no.”

Gabby: Some, some voice actors are so against political work that it’s like an across-the-board thing. They, it’s like a statement that they make when they sign to a roster. They just say “I don’t do politicals.”

Anne: Yeah, and that’s fine.

Gabby: It’s like end of story. We see it a lot in the union group, and it’s OK, but what people don’t realize is that, for as many people who turn it down and won’t engage in it, it actually makes the competition smaller.

Anne: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Yep, yep.

Gabby: It’s kind of a good thing.

Anne: Well, yeah. It’s your business. If you choose to not do politicals, politicals are, it’s something that I think most talent either are, they’re with it or they’re not.

Gabby: Or they’re not, yeah.

Anne: It’s something you may not know a whole lot about because not everybody talks about political voiceover. Everybody talks about commercial, and animation, and video games, but not many people talk about political.

Gabby: Bob Bergen for instance, he is, it’s just adamant. It’s a closed door for him. He’s like “look, with the work that I do in animation, and –

Anne: Oh gosh, he can’t.

Gabby: – cartoons,” he’s like, “I can’t.”

Anne: That brings up a great point, Gabby, because if you’re strong in a genre or in a particular brand, right, and you’re the voice of, that may be something that would be in a contract for you, like if you were to go one way or the other in political, that may or may not be possibility for you.

Gabby: It definitely can I think put you under a microscope where it will make other clients look at you differently. This was just recently in the news. There was the teacher who was tweeting. She claims that she believed that her tweets to the president were private. I don’t know how anybody could possibly think that.

Anne: How, oh yes.

Gabby: She was tweeting things that were extremely political in nature in regards to immigration. And she got fired. And the school board that employs her, yeah, she was fired for it. Now I mean, there’s a lot of controversy about that and about the fact that she was fired for her opinion or her viewpoint, belief, however you want to look at it, but at the same time, she’s an educator. And she can’t –

Anne: And it reflects on the school.

Gabby: – and I mean, she was clearly showing a bias. The more high-profile or if you have a particular client that maybe is very high-profile, it may not be a bad idea to approach them first –

Anne: Yes, agreed.

Gabby: – and say –

Anne: Agreed. Good idea.

Gabby: “Hey, how would you guys feel –

Anne: Feel, mm-hmm.

Gabby: – if I appeared in some political campaigns? Would that a problem for you? Is that something you would prefer I not engage in?” You know, because if that client’s treating you well enough, I mean, come on, don’t bite the hand that feeds.

Anne: Exactly, exactly. When you align yourself with a brand, you then have to be very aware of how you conduct yourself out there in the ethers and out there in the public eye. Because we all know from our own Facebook feeds, people who are engaging in political conversations one way or the other, it causes such controversy. Oh my goodness, such – there’s a lot of hate out there.

Gabby: We’re now in a place where – how does the expression go? “Ignorance is not an excuse.” You can’t engage in something and then go “oh, but I didn’t know!”

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: So you have to be a step ahead. You have to be a little bit smarter and not be afraid to engage the conversation ahead of time to avoid a big disaster later.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: I mean I’m part of the whole rock the vote generation. You, you’ll see celebrities and notable people lend their name to the cause of things like registering to vote, but rarely do you see them in advertisements.

Anne: But you’ll see them on stage at an awards show –

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: – expressing their reliefs.

Gabby: A political rally, sure. They will involve – but celebrities are very, very careful as to how they –

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: And typically, and I do always find this amusing, is that the ones who have the least to lose and maybe don’t have a great career right now, those are the ones most likely, you know.

[both laugh]

Anne: If you feel that you can use your voice for change, that’s really where that all comes from, too, right?

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: We all want to make an impact, guys, and I totally, totally understand that. And if political voiceover does that for you, then I say, hey, know like what the opportunities are, what the pros and cons may be, and political is so not talked about.

Gabby: It’s June. You know, we could be here in November waiting to talk about this almost after the fact.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: That doesn’t do you any good.

Anne: We’re prepping you. So I would like to give a big shout-out, because I’m all for this company.

Gabby: [laughs]

Anne: Our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can sound like an amazing pro and connect up with all the people that you need to using ipDTL. Find out more at

Gabby: And of course There is a big, big public launch that is very, very, very soon to come. We are excited to be a part of what they’re doing. This is a whole new game in online casting, guys. Efficient, fair, transparent, Go ahead and get yourself positioned with them so that you’re ahead of the game for what’s to come.

Anne: Guys, we’d love to hear your feedback, and we’d love to hear it if you love us. So feel free to leave feedback on iTunes, leave us a review, vote

Gabby: Aww.

Anne: There you go.

Gabby: Yeah!

[both laugh]

Anne: Alright, 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.