how NOT to make it

notes from a working actor

The trials and tribulations
of Mike Vaughn

(this guy)

Thought this little tidbit might be interesting for VO talent who may or may not know that their last names aren’t always given.

One of my regional agents/reps, asked me to remove my full name from the audio file data (you know, where in iTunes you can see the name of the artist, album, etc.). Well, now hang on a minute, I thought. I like my name on my auditions because the person listening will A: know who specifically who to book, and B: might even do a little search and bump up my imdb rating from 42,345 to 42,346.

Sadly, I’m a coward who does what my agents’ tell me, so I re-labeled my file, but I did manage to ask “why no last names?” The answer sent back was one-part compliment and one-part company statement:

“On our site you are affectionately known as Mike7 (:  I’d like to take a moment to give you a brief history and some of our policies…. [cut to]  I’m sure you have noticed that we provide only first names on our website demos thus insuring that our clients come back to us for all VO services. We do not allow our talents to work directly with our clients or provide contact information during voice over sessions. This ensures the talent relationships stays where they originated.”

Then I decided to grow a pair and be as open and honest I could with my thoughts on this (in my opinion, ‘outdated’) way of thinking:

 Oh… I see why you’re doing that now.. you’ve had talent(s) take client(s) away from you. That’s truly a shame. I hope you let those talent go immediately.  Just so you know, I actually try to NEVER negotiate without a representative involved, and I recommend the same to my fellow talents. Most talents I know agree with me.

But, on the flip side… if I were to put my marketing hat on (I used to be an advertising broadcast producer and copywriter), I might suggest that an ‘air of mystery’ between client/agency/talent, while preventing bad talent from stealing away clients, may also create a brand that works within suspicion and mistrust. It’s too easy to look someone up these days, everyone has a last name, and purposefully leaving out names… well… it just feels shady whether that intention is there or not. If I were back in the ad game again, I can’t honestly say I’d use your agency because I would, in fact, be worried about the anonymity. Not having a last name would also make my job as a producer much harder in terms of bookkeeping and selling that talent to the creative director and/or our end client. Talent with IMDB credits are much easier to sell to the final decision makers, but of course, last names are needed to see their credits. Regardless, A more open policy combined with better behaved talent, might actually increase the number of available jobs sent to you guys. 

Of course, this is just my opinion from my perspective as a producer who used to book talent all the time.

Until then, 


Anyone here good with doing their work anonymously?
Have your say below.

One Response to “anonymous talent?”

  1. Mike, great commentary. I, of course, have such a unique first name that their tactics would make no difference for me. So I started wondering… would they make me go under a generic alias and not even be “myself”? Not a great relationship enhancer, for sure!!


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