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“And the Voice-Over Survey Says…”

Nancy Cartwright shares the results of her readers survey from her August column and finds inspiration in the answers.

Guess who is the most admired voice-over artist working today? Nancy Cartwright!

In Augusts issue I conducted a little enquiring minds want to know. For starters, I want to thank all of you who took the time to fill out my online survey. Methinks there is more to write about than just my life and career, and so I decided to ask you about yours. The focus of the poll was, of course, centered on voice acting. I wanted to learn more about your passions and your dreams, which role models you have, and what type of animation you admire the most. And last, but not least, I wanted to know whether or not you feel voice-actors are properly acknowledged for the work they do.

That said, truthfully, I was not sure how many people actually even read my regular column in Animation World Network, or how those who did read it, would respond. I must admit I was happily taken aback by the tremendous interest and response this little survey received. We got 1,850 hits to the website! Wow-oh-wow! As time consuming as it was, I had a blast reading every single survey response. I was really surprised at how varied and vast all of your backgrounds were. Impressive. But what really got me the most was that everyone had the same intense and dedicated passion for the animation art form.

A whopping 60% of the responses came from those in the voice-over/animation/art-related industries. The others passions included making their dreams come true so that they could one day ultimately work within the industry. Many of the answers were touchingly insightful and I really love seeing that side of my readers. Once again, I so appreciate the time you all took to respond. Below are the results

Voice-Over Survey

1. What is your sex? 77% Male; 22% Female.

2. What is your age? From 19-60 years of age, with the average age falling somewhere around 30.

3. What is your profession? This is the whopping 60% I mentioned; the responses came in from those artists already working in the voice-over/animation industry. This is interesting; some of the other occupations included a federal government agent, an electrical engineer, a special ed. teacher and a bagger at a grocery store. Just shows to go ya this is an industry that attracts many different types of personalities and many unique characters (more fuel for more creativity, I say).

The survey says that The Simpsons is your favorite animated TV show.  & © 2002 The Simpsons and TTCFFC all rights reserved.  © 2002 FOX Broadcasting Credit: FOX.

4. What is your passion? Everyone clearly had a passion for the art of animation and/or the voice-over industry. The following is an excerpt that I found truly inspiring: When I first read this question, I actually didnt know how I would answer it, and perhaps I still dont, even though living a life with passion is a topic I talk constantly about with other people. First and foremost, Im passionate about my marriage [He] is the most wonderful man on the planet He even acts as director and sound engineer on my long narrations and audiobooks I do something every day to advance my career, even if it is a small thing Im extremely passionate about living the life of your dreams. For me, this life includes travel and music in addition to my voice-over career I am passion about writing down your goals and visualizing your success I strive to make others aware that they have control of choices they are making in their own lives.

Every now and then I receive an email or a letter from a fan that evokes such honesty, integrity, dedication and responsibility. I found this letter to be one of the best.

5. How long have you been interested in voice overs? Most answered that they have had an interest in this arena most of their lives. Thats so cool.

6. Who were your voice-over role models growing up? 51% Mel Blanc; 17% June Foray; 14% Daws Butler.

7. What voice-over artists do you admire today? Forty percent said Nancy Cartwright (Wow! Thanks, guys and dolls! Its great to be in such great company.) Tying at 14% was Dan Castellaneta a dear friend who makes life with The Simpsons way more than just a job and another dear friend who Ive known longer than any other voice-artist nearly 25 years! It just doesnt get much better than being voted in there right alongside your peers. I wonder if that is how Daws (my mentor), Mel and June felt when they were at the top of their game? And finally, coming in at 11%, a real sweetheart who does so many charities and fundraisers that it amazes me that he even has time to actually go to work and entertain everyone with his great voice!

The Incredibles and Shrek 2 tied for favorite all-time animated features. © 2004 Disney Enterprises Inc./Pixar Animation Studios. All rights reserved; Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures.

8. Do you feel voice-actors are appropriately acknowledged for the work they do? In other words, do the awards ceremonies (Emmys, Oscars, Annies) properly commend the voice-artists for what they do to contribute to the project? Unanimously a big fat no! This was a 100%, unequivocal no. Most of the comments focused on the difference between being a celebrity and being a real voice-actor and that the awards shows (the Emmys, the Annies and the Oscars) do not properly acknowledge those of us who have dedicated their whole career to doing so many different types of voices and characters.

A majority agreed that this lack of official acceptance somehow seem to degrade those voice-artists whose faces arent as well known. I find this information truly encouraging, but I need no convincing. It might take a concerted effort on the part of voice-actors everywhere to make a significant change in how the industry views and ultimately rewards this particular group of artists.

Anyone up for the challenge?

9. What are your top three favorite animated television shows? 32% The Simpsons; 13% Family Guy; 9% Futurama. Other favorites included: Animaniacs, Kim Possible, SpongeBob SquarePants and Rocky and Bullwinkle.

10. What are your top three favorite animated feature films? Coming in at a tie, 15% The Incredibles and Shrek 2; 12% Toy Story and 8% for Aladdin, Little Mermaid and The Lion King. Other favorites included, but not limited to: Beauty and the Beast; Cowboy Bebop; Finding Nemo and Over the Hedge.

How many conversations can Tom Kenny have with himself?

11. If I could write an article about any topic having to do with the voice-over industry, what would that article be? The responses to this were both hilarious and insightful. Just a few include: How many conversations can Tom Kenny have with himself? How do you get started? Why is there a disproportionate number of jobs for men vs. women? How to have the strongest voice possible? What types of production personalities make it easier for you to get your job done? And many more interesting subjects to be used in future articles.

12. What burning questions do you feel have not been answered by me in any of the articles you have read up to this point? Most people responded with thanks and appreciation.

In closing, just so you dont think Im not appreciative, I want to once again say Thank you! for taking the time to cut and paste and to give such clear and insightful answers. I am going to have a great time coming up with my next years worth of articles. You guys rock! I hope this has been as interesting for you as it has been for me.

In the meantime, keep your ears to the ground and yours eyes wide open, you never know when a sound, a sight, or even a smell might tickle something inside you that might eventually, someday end up on the big screen. Good luck on your journey!

My best, Nancy

Nancy Cartwright is best known as the voice of spiky-headed Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. She has voiced dozens of cartoon characters in her career that has spanned more than 20 years. Currently, she can be heard as the voice of Rufus the Naked Mole Rat on Disneys Kim Possible and Chuckie on Rugrats and All Grown Up. To learn more about Nancys career, listen to her audio book My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy.