Celebrity Actors VS Professional NarratorsDo celebrity actors draw in bigger crowds than established narrators in voice overs?
Who would you rather listen to?
I can tell this debate will be very interesting…
Share your .02 here at VOX Daily and let the conversation begin!

While we know that sometimes big name actors can sellout at the box office for animation voice over roles, do they enjoy the same degree of success or notoriety when they are on the narration side of the voice over business? I received an email from Robin Rowan asking this very question.

Does it make a difference to Joe Public whether or not a celebrity actor from Hollywood is narrating, or are they happy to watch documentaries based simply upon their interests and narration quality, regardless of the status of the narrator?
Robin posed the following:

Robin Rowan Voice OversSpurred by the mediocre job (in my opinion) Sigourney Weaver did on the 11-part series “Planet Earth,” I am curious to know how many well-known actors and actresses are also doing documentaries and movie narration (i.e., Tom Selleck narrates the IMAX movie “The Magic of Flight.”) Is it a good fit? Peter Coyote is not terribly well-known as an actor, but he dominates the Discovery Channel as far as narrators, and does a fine job (a little overused, though).
Do people actually watch a documentary or other feature because of the famous narrator???

Well, I think Robin may have something there 🙂
What do you think?
Leave a comment on the blog with your thoughts and reference your favorite narrator in your reply.

Technorati Tags: Celebrities, Actors, Narrators,Documentaries, Voice Actors, and Voices.com.
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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Hello,
    I know that every year hundreds of hours are used in research about branding and use of a particular voice and the importance and expense etc.
    In a recent study by a major radio rep firm, it was noted that the majority of listeners do not recognize the voice and any impact would be through the message of the advertisement or narration.
    With all the new media sectors and focus on how to spread and invest those dollars for the best results, the top VO celebs may possibly see a change in the future of this share of the business they are receiving.
    Thanks L J

  2. Hi Stephanie and LJ, and thanks for bringing this issue into the forum. You’re right, the average Joe doesn’t know or care if a celeb is being used for a TV commercial, except that they get HUGE amounts of money compared to average Joes like us! It’s been the same with audio books, which I’ve been trying to break into for YEARS. Problem is, would you buy THE VELVETEEN RABBIT narrated by Robin Rowan or Meryl Streep? Exactly.
    I had eye surgery a few years back and couldn’t read (gasp!) for a week, so listened to many, many audio books. Most were read by bit-part soap actors and were really AWFUL, BUT… their photos were on the back of the package, and that’s what sells!!!! (“Ohmygod it’s Jeremy on ‘Days of Our Lives!'”) Soooo….anyone had this experience and not exactly been pushed out, but not really been welcomed in?
    And how DO we compete against actors and actresses who already have their “brand?”

  3. Many big name stars have had a great run voicing commercials, movies, and narrations. Some of them are rather fantastic as well! However, all things are cyclical if you ask me.
    Increasing attention is being paid to big name voice actors. Don LaFontaine is in the spotlight today as often as many of the Hollywood actors. People are becoming more fascinated each passing year with voice actors and how we achieve our craft. This is evident in the amount of people trying to become professional voice actors!
    Be patient, and we will one day soon find our own names listed alongside those considered ‘stars’. I have little doubt. Great talent is always respected – no matter where that talent may lie.

  4. Hollywood believes there’s a big draw to cast recognizable stars into lead voice roles for feature animation films. This is not a new trend, and it does create big box office in some cases.
    To a lesser degree, there are some known actors we’ll mostly see, not hear stars doing commercials… most are actors whose film careers are no longer as prolific as they once were. And yes there are some stars who perform broadcast narration.
    Despite this reality, I believe there will always be room for everyone who works hard at their voice business and is good at the craft.
    Thanks for listening.
    Bobbin Beam

  5. It isn’t always the voice that gets a celebrity a vo role. Often a client’s motivation may lie with effective marketing. Regardless of voice ability, celebrities involvement in a project can create additional press and notoriety for that production. Additionally, celebrities often do better when it comes to interviews and promotion.
    This practice is, quite often, less about choosing the best voice for the job, and more about positioning the end product for maximum public exposure.
    So… In case for some odd reason anyone hasn’t noticed…
    The Best Voice Doesn’t Always Get The Job!

  6. I would much rather listen to a professional narrator like Tom Hair (Discovery’s Wings) than any well know actor “guest narrator” who often does no better than any high school sophomore could. Though I do not recognize the voice, I can almost always note an actor playing narrator by the amateurish style. Even though I enjoy his acting, Gary Sinise is one who should most definitely stick with acting, in my opinion. There are exceptions, of course, with James Earl Jones coming to mind.


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