Voice Acting and Fame

Voice actors are not renowned for being famous. If your goal in life is to be well-known, to be a celebrity, there are a million better ways to accomplish that than by being a voice actor. It truly is a craft and a business where it is wise to do it because you love it.

If you showed 100 people a picture of Homer Simpson and asked them to identify who he is, how many people do you think would correctly identify him? I don't have an answer for this but I think 90 or more people would probably be able to "guess" correctly. That's 9 out of 10 people or greater. I feel this is quite a fair estimate for the main character of one of the most iconic television shows in history. But if you asked 100 people who voices Homer Simpson, how many of them do you think would know this? Well this time, I might have an answer…

… and it comes via the British TV quiz show "Pointless". In the show, the questions that contestants are asked are also asked to 100 members of the public and contestants compete by trying to guess the questions and answers that the fewest people know: the least commonly known answers. In a 2016 celebrity edition of the show, actor Steve Pemberton and comedian Bob Mortimer had to choose an answer to one of five questions about Homer Simpson. They decided to answer:

"The actor who has voiced him in more than 500 episodes"

Out of the 100 members of the public who were asked, how many people do you think knew the voice of Homer Simpson?

8. Just 8 people out of 100 knew the voice behind one of the most recognisable fictional television characters. That's fewer than 1 in 10 people who knew this. Oh, and by the way, Steve Pemberton guessed "Dan Castanella" instead of "Dan Castellaneta", so make that 8 out of 101. Who Homer Simpson merely is would be a terrible Pointless answer. But who his voice actor is, turns out to be a brilliant one.

If the voice of one of the most famous cartoon characters of all time, whose name many people may have seen hundreds or even thousands of times in the credits, is relatively unknown to people… it makes me wonder about everyone else. How many people know the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants? Or Fred Flintstone? The commercials you see on TV don't list in the corner who the voice behind them is. A similar thing can be said for many e-learning and YouTube videos. So often you won't even be told who a voice is. Even in a video game's credits can an actor's name be skipped simply by pressing the "Start" button.

The benefit of all this is that a voice actor is never going to be swamped and harassed by paparazzi or have every single life decision they make scrutinised under the public eye. But if you want to be front page news on a glossy magazine, then this industry is unlikely to be the thing that puts you there. You can make a wonderful impact on many peoples' lives… it's just likely that not many people are going to really know about it.