Is the Seth Rogan Controversy Good or Bad for Voiceover Industry?

Is the Seth Rogan Controversy Good or Bad for Voiceover Industry?

A reporter from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) called me yesterday to ask me (a female voice over artist) how I felt about Seth Rogan voicing prompts for the Vancouver Transit Authority. Matthew ____ (I don’t remember his last name) asked if I felt any animosity toward Seth for infringing on the territory of a regular voiceover artist. While I understand Matthew was doing his due diligence as a good reporter trying to dig up dirt on an otherwise fun fluff news piece, my reaction wasn’t what he was looking for.

Hollywood A-Listers in Voice Over

While it does get some of us up in arms when we see Matthew McConaughey hocking cars or the myriad of animation roles going more and more to A-list celebrities, and I understood his point about Seth. But apart from being all fan-girl about le M. Rogan, I think he’s doing us a service. Let me s’plain.


Seth Rogen beside subway car Kim Handysides Voiceover

Credit: Vancouver Courrier

Hearing Seth Rogan give you anecdotes and instructions over the transit PA system draws attention to our industry as a whole. It shines a spotlight on one aspect of the myriad places voiceover is used. AR, VR, all the R’s, I don’t need to spell them out. You know where our talents are used.


The cool thing about Seth’s work? He apparently didn’t take any money for this particular job. It was a volunteer voice gig. So he wasn’t replacing you or me. He was looking at it as doing a favor for the city he is proud to come from. I’m not from Vancouver and when the reporter found out I am located on the other side of the country, he asked me for other references of voiceover people in the city. (You’re welcome Alison Sellers 😉 )


Full disclosure, part of my generous reaction, may have been because I thought Seth’s voicework was limited to Vancouver, the city of his birth. Then I found out he also recorded voice prompts for the Toronto Transit authority…. Hmmm. Vancouver voice, Toronto voice…would he become the (my home town) Montreal voice, too? Further investigation? Canadian company TransLink hired Seth after allegations about Morgan Freeman’s off-set behavior. So this wasn’t a new thing….The transit authority was already hiring big names for its etiquette tips.

Voice Over Work is not a Pool, it’s an Ocean

So back to the issue….big Hollywood actors recording the stuff you and I live and breathe and pay our mortgages on. And are you and I afraid it will squeeze us out of the market?


Ya’Idonthinkso….50 years ago Mel Blanc and a handful of others did all the animation voices. At that point the occasional Hollywood A-lister would lend their voice to something for a charitable event. Yeah, advertisers, doc filmmakers and especially gaming companies are roping in the big guns to be better heard amidst the rising cacophony of content. But, unless the stars all start working for charity, the overwhelming majority of corporate clients, eLearning content creators, ad agencies, etc. will not produce budgets high enough to satisfy their rarified bank accounts. There will be enough work for “regular voice over artists” or as I like to call us, “career actors.”


Smiling Seth Rogen Kim Handysides Voiceover

Credit: CTV Vancouver

So, Rogen on, Toronto & Vancouver, I say. And let us bask in the awareness his dulcet tones and gregarious, down-to-earth personality bring to an otherwise ignored genre in the arena of voicework in which we all play.


What say you? Is it yes to the Seth? Or no with a boo, hiss? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  1. Diana 2 years ago

    Of course we can all see both sides. Very insightful and generous, Kim! Well said.

    • Author
      Kim Handysides 2 years ago

      Thanks Diana! 🙂

  2. Jeffrey Machado 2 years ago

    I say, “Yes to the Seth”! I’ve seen similar concerns in animation, where big-name actors are snapping up so many of the high-profile roles. But the other side of that coin is, by getting on board, that big-name actor assures that the project will get produced (maybe for several sequels or seasons), which will create potential opportunities for dozens of other voice actors. So yeah, I’m a fan of the “Seth Effect.” Great perspective, Kim!

  3. JD 2 years ago

    A well balanced, well written missive, Kim.

    Seth’s a good guy. Voice on, señior Rogan!

  4. David Gilbert 2 years ago

    Spot on Kim. Shining a light on the industry but won’t change the tide in big-budget animation moving towards known actors because the film industry execs need to feel comfortable shelling out tons of dough making and marketing films these days so adding a few A-lister celebs to the roster just helps them put bums in the seats. As you mentioned, these A-listers are never going to go down to the volume jobs that pay the bills for many VO’s, so I don’t see a need to panic. Though it’s easy for me to say as I’m not competing directly with them for any big-budget animation flicks…

  5. Dani States 2 years ago

    Nicely put, Kim!
    I always love your perspective!

  6. Paul Schmidt 2 years ago

    I largely agree. If you’re not doing A-list work then that’s not work that’s being taken from you.

  7. Craig William 2 years ago

    As long as the AList actor does the spot justice – I am OK with it. Mark Hamill is a shining example of a celeb that not only gave an amazing performance for an animation but also went on to extol the virtues of voice actors. I also don’t mind hearing Morgan Freeman when I land at Birmingham, Alabama!

  8. Richard Durrington 2 years ago

    I love your perspective coming from a positive slant. Very well thought out, excellent point of view.

  9. Christine 2 years ago

    Just heard him on the SkyTrain platform in Vancouver recently – made me smile! Thanks for a great perspective Kim!

    • Author
      Kim Handysides 2 years ago

      COOL! (and a little bit jealous – I may have to come to Vancouver this year just to hear our Seth)

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