NarrationJust because a narrator is reading a script, does that necessarily mean that they believe what they are saying?
What happens when a narrator’s personal beliefs butts heads with the content of a script?
If conflict arises, will the voice over be authentic enough to believe?

When you listen to a documentary or audiobook narration, do you believe the narrator? In this business, narrators are required to be good word painters and also to be authentic. While this statement may be true and to the point, someone once said that it takes veracity and honesty to make it in voice over (and, once you’ve faked that, you’ve got it made).

I’d like to pose the question of whether the authenticity of a read is essential to the successful delivery of a voice over or is it merely a component; a means to achieve an end? Let’s look at it this way:
Are the theories or beliefs stated in a script reflective of the narrator’s personal views, and what are the implications, if any, should those conflict? So, if you are a narrator and are handed a script that contains content or a few ideas here and there that do not jive with your personal ideals, could you fake or pretend (some people call this acting) that they coexist or are complementary to your own opinion(s) with any pseudo veracity?

This topic is a bit of an eyeopener.
It isn’t everyday that a question like this comes along asking you to examine this aspect of voice over and interpretation. In your opinion, does the integrity or interpretation of read suffer when a voice talent is not wholeheartedly in union with the concept, ideas or content presented in a script? Let’s keep this conversation going 🙂 Leave a comment with your thoughts.
Best wishes,

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of 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. Excluding two possibilities:
    1. A script whose controversy is evident on every page no matter your political or religious beliefs
    2. A voice talent whose personal belief system is so strident as to allow them to find controversy on every page of any script
    …this sort of moral quandary won’t pop up very often.
    But for the sake of discussion, let’s say you’re offered a project which you come to find teeters near your “offensive” meter… however that meter “reads” for you.
    Obviously, the best situation would be a chance to review the script prior to heading to a recording session. Upon review and reflection, you are uncomfortable with the copy. Step 1 would be to speak with the producer in a professional manner and share your concerns. That discussion may eventually quell your concerns or it may not. If it does not, you politely and professionally and as non-judgmentally as possible decline the job.
    Less pleasant case- you’re handed the script in the studio. Same answer here but you need to be even more tactful because likely you’re sitting right in front of the person who is the producer.
    Don’t burn bridges but more importantly, do not compromise your personal value system. Finally, don’t stand in judgment of others who may be willing to do a job that you would not.
    Like voices, values are a very individual thing.
    Best always,

  2. What an interesting topic!
    For me, it’s a rarity that I don’t at least have a general idea of what the project is about before entering into it, so I can avoid the really obvious contrasts to my own beliefs.
    Most of the issues that have come up for me like this have been pretty minute, and I have brought my inner actress into play to get through them.
    I do think that it helps a project to have a narrator that can really bring some passion into the text. Believing what you’re saying, or at least not being opposed to it, helps that.
    I wouldn’t want to hurt a project by giving a less-than-energetic read due to my own beliefs, nor would I want to hurt my own body of work by doing a project I didn’t want to promote.
    As a project manager, I’ve been very upfront with talent when I’ve had a project with an obvious controversy point. That not only helps to find the right talent for the job that can get behind the words, but helps to weed out those who wouldn’t be able to give me what I need from them.
    So, yes! I believe, unless it’s specifically an “acting” job, it’s better for talent and script to be aligned. It’s all about conveying the words in the best way possible!

  3. Greetings,
    This has come up for me probably more often than I’d like to admit. If I don’t get a good “vibe” from the lead and the copy, I just won’t answer it, and that’s pretty easy.
    But there are times when the client might misrepresent what the script is, hire you, and then you’re stuck looking at a script that borders on, say, some type of religious dogma that makes you wince, or maybe something that seems to border on pornographic (to fit in both ends of the spectrum).
    David Ogilvy, the iconic advertising guy, really said it all by the way he lived–he only wore suits from Sears, he only drove a Buick, he only used Dial soap — Sears, Buick and Dial were all clients of Ogilvy & Mather.
    He thought that if you couldn’t wholeheartedly believe in what you were selling, you couldn’t sell it to someone else.

  4. Hi Steph,
    I am a professionally trained actress, first and foremost. For me, as an actress, I must be able to become the character that is needed for the subject I am portraying.
    Whether or not my own personal belief system is the same or not doesn’t come into play. I “assume” the role of the piece.
    If there is not truth in acting, for me it is false. If something is so objectionable to me, I simply decline the role.


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