WARNING: (NSFW) This episode contains content about victimization and sexual abuse that some listeners may find disturbing.
In the wake of the #metoo social awareness movement, Anne and Gabby talk candidly about the struggles women face with sexual harassment and misconduct. This episode also talks about victims of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of a well-known voiceover coach.
Where you can go for help: If you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse, please know that help is available, and you are not alone. Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. You can also access 24/7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
It’s ok to speak out on your own time. Don’t feel pressured to speak out.
You are not alone.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
24/7 Help Available Here or call 800.656.HOPE (4673)
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Anne: Welcome everybody to the VO BOSS podcast. I am your host Anne Ganguzza, along with my lovely cohost, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.
Anne: Gabby, today we are going to talk about I think something that is prevalent right now in the industry news.
Anne: That is the #metoo campaign, and I think it is something that we need to talk about, and we need to get out into the open if we can, so that we can hopefully move forward.
Gabby: Moving of course in a positive way, not a forgetful way, not a dismissive way, but something healthy and productive. I think there’s a couple of things we need to sort of start about this podcast and this conversation which is number one, #metoo applies not just to women.
Gabby: It can very easily apply to men as well. That being said, we do know that obviously statistically speaking women are more likely to be victims of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual conduct. Everyone is afraid to speak out.
Anne: Yeah, I think that’s a good point.
Gabby: Yeah, for a variety of reasons on these topics. There is the fear of being shunned, there is the social stigma, there is the fear of —
Anne: Not being able to work.
Gabby: So in the last couple of days, we have seen a lot of our fellow voice actresses very bravely stand up and #metoo, and some of them have told their stories. Some have just opted to say, “hey, I am right there with you. I know what it’s like.” We had a bit of a voiceover shakeup as a result.
Anne: First of all, before we actually get to that, I’d like to kind of point out for all of the #metoo’s that we have seen, I think that there are maybe so many more that we’re not seeing, again for the reasons, Gabby, that you talked about, being afraid of speaking out because maybe you won’t be able to get work. I will tell you that I was one of those women that put #metoo in my feed, and that’s all I put. However I do want to contribute and let it be known that it is much more widespread than maybe people are talking about. That is why I am glad we are here today talking about it, Gabby, because I think it is very important. Yesterday, Gabby, I, I saw something in the voiceover thread that really was surprising to me, shook me up, and gosh, I — then I called you and asked if you had seen the thread.
Gabby: Which I hadn’t. But unfortunately its topic was not unknown to me. Let’s talk about it. So, so tell me about your — I guess how you stumbled upon this or how you became privy to the post and what was going on.
Anne: Well, it just happened to be in a voiceover Facebook group, and it was allegations about a certain member of the voiceover community that was harassing other members of the community. And apparently it had been going on for a while. But apparently, when I asked some of my other colleagues about it, it was not a surprise. And my first question, Gabby, is why? Why — I feel like I, I didn’t know about it, but there were so many people that did, and why, why did it, why did it take until now for it to come out? Why so long apparently if this had been going on for years? And that, that’s a little distressing to me.
Gabby: Let’s, let’s back up just one second. I mean, let’s just really I think make sure that this is abundantly clear and we are not being too, too vague on the topic, right? So there is a very well-known, very um, I don’t know, shall we say respected voiceover coach in the New York market — that’s as much I will say regarding identity — who has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior and advances towards a variety of women in the voiceover community. And so a lot of people have now stepped up I guess and started to come out and tell their stories. Much like what’s going on in Hollywood, uhh yeah. It wasn’t really a huge shock to a lot of people.
Anne: I do want to point out too to our listeners, it’s difficult for Gabby and I to talk about it actually, and we’re just kind of talking about it now, and, and so at least I feel that it, it’s an important first step that although parts of this podcast may seem awkward to you, it is awkward. And it’s, it’s awkward talking about it, but I think Gabby and I are really wanting to let you guys know that, you know what, it — these things, they are happening.
Gabby: The unfortunate thing I think is that realistically there are always going to be predators. Can you completely avoid um putting yourself or having yourself be put in a bad position and somewhere you don’t want to be? Not always. Most of the stories and most of the things you hear women say are of course things like, “I was, I was just too nice” or “too agreeable,” or “I didn’t want to be rude.”
Anne: Or it took them by complete surprise, which is something — if you knew, if you knew to anticipate it, you probably would stay away. But for most of these cases, it was a complete surprise. I guess if there’s a mindset to the predator, that that is really what they prey upon is the fact that you are in a situation where you are going to be taken by surprise, so that that way it can happen. Right? I guess. I don’t really know. I, I’m not — I don’t want to put myself too much into the predator’s mindset. I can only try to assume.
Gabby: Well, I…well, I mean, let’s, let’s be realistic. Right? It’s usually closed quarters. It’s not public situation. There is one or two people there. It is very intimate settings. And unfortunately when we talk about voice over, especially the relationship between a coach and a trainee, if you will, the student, that relationship is very one-on-one, and —
Anne: Plus there is a trust, there is a trust that the student has in, in that person typically.
Gabby: Of course, of course.
Anne: To be able to guide them in the right direction, to be able to coach them. And so that is definitely being taken advantage of, that trust.
Gabby: One of the things we definitely hear repeatedly, the advice that’s given is you have to speak up, regardless of what was happening prior, regardless of any comment you might have made, regardless of whether or not originally it was, you know, two people joking or flirting. The moment the situation crosses a line that you are not comfortable with, you have to say something. That is the moment to find your courage.
Anne: Who, who do you say that to, Gabby? That’s the question.
Gabby: Initially, initially it is the person who is being inappropriate. Initially it is that predator. It is, it is stopping in that instance, finding your courage and saying no. And it’s removing yourself as quickly as possible.
Anne: I am going to say that there are going to be people out there that will say that was done. As a matter of fact, I can attest to it myself, where I was like, “this is not acceptable.” And then the response was, “oh, come on. It’s just a joke.You know, it, you know, I didn’t mean anything by it. It was just a joke. You can’t take a joke?” To stop or to say no would have, would have cost a lot of people’s jobs. It would have cost a lot of humiliation for not just, not just the person but the person’s family, the person’s children, umm the people that, that the person was in contact with on a daily basis as a trusted coach and a trusted confidant.
Gabby: In a traditional work environment, as scary as it still might be, and as much as you fear the repercussions not only for yourself but maybe for that other person, there is an HR department. There is protocols. There is someone you can go to. There’s management. There’s something in place typically that allows you to go and make a report and have something that, that’s put on this person’s file to let others know what took place. And then it’s up to the company to decide, you know, what actions become appropriate. In voiceover we don’t have that. If you’re a student, and you’re working with a voice over coach, hmm yeah, who do you go to?
Anne: Where do you go? Who do you report to?
Gabby: Who do you report this to?
Anne: Who is the head of HR?
Gabby: Look how awkward we are right now —
Anne: I know.
Gabby: just trying to talk about this.
Gabby: It is awkward, and it is uncomfortable, but it’s uncomfortable because in a sense, we’ve been taught that it’s supposed to be uncomfortable. You don’t talk about these things. Well, there is part of the process of healing from it. Educating, changing this norm by talking about it, by making it a comfortable conversation, we begin to break down those walls and break down that area. So when you called me, and you said, you know, “were you aware of this,” I said, “yeah, I did know.” I knew a lot of people know that this coach has been named in very predatory behavior over the years. And you were stunned, and then of course that led us to the direction of the conversation of, well, why isn’t anyone saying anything?
Gabby: And you know, I don’t have any good answer there. I just don’t.
Anne: And I don’t either. I just think that we need to talk. We need to have a discussion. And I think that, like you were just saying, I think that there needs to be a new norm. And you know, you guys, it is so difficult for me to talk because again, I don’t want to step on any — I don’t want to, I don’t want to insult anybody, I don’t want to offend anybody that maybe this has happened to, and I’m trying to find the right words to even talk about it. But please know that I’m trying to talk about it, and Gabby and I are talking about it because we really think that, if nothing else, there needs to be a change. There need, there needs to be a pedagogical change. Is, is that a word? Is that the word? Umm change in a way —
Gabby: It is now.
Anne: Pedagogical. There needs to be a change in the way that these things are dealt with or perhaps maybe we all need to be a little uncomfortable so that they come out and that it’s known. I think there’s only — you know, one way to really help solve a situation is to really just get the problem out in the open so that you can discuss what things can