Hosted annually by the Campaign and Elections organization, the Reed Awards “recognize the most exceptional work in [political] campaigning from the preceding year.” As we know here at the VO Château, voiceover is an invaluable part of a successful political campaign.
The Reed Awards know it, too. In fact, the VO Château team, including Head of Casting Aya Maruyama and voice actors J. Michael Collins, Kenita Hill, and Soraya Butler, attended the prestigious conference and award show in person from March 27-28 in Las Vegas.
We are thrilled that spots booked through the VO Château with members of our talent roster swept in all four voiceover categories and received the following recognitions:
- J. Michael Collins and Soraya Butler both won Voiceover Artist of the Year for their work on the John McCann for Chula Vista Mayor campaign and the Sandwich Generation campaign, respectively.
- “It was such an honor, thrill, and a complete surprise to win the 2023 Reed Awards Voiceover Artist of the Year, and extra special that I share the title with J. Michael Collins,” Soraya said. “I’m ready to work a lot more this political season!”
- Keaver Brenai won Best Use of Voiceover Talent in a Radio or Podcast Ad for her work on the Marilyn Strickland for Congress campaign.
- “I support what achievement stands for, and I’m grateful to bring home the win to share it with all who helped us get there,” Keaver said.
- Brigid Reale won Best Use of Voiceover Talent in a TV Ad – Non-Partisan for her work on the United Brotherhood of Carpenters campaign.
- “I think the most amazing part of winning a Reed Award, and of voicing political issues in general, is when you have the opportunity and the honor of being the audio representative for a vital, foundational group like this,” Brigid said. “Carpenters are the backbone of America.”
- Bev Standing won Best Use of Voiceover Talent in an Online Video – Other for her work on the APIAVote: “Why We Vote” Arizona campaign .
- “Winning a Reed Award is a great honor and source of pride for all involved in the project, who worked so diligently to get their message heard,” Bev said.
We also had several other talent on our roster secure nominations for spots booked through the VO Château:
- Kenita Hill for Best Use of Voiceover Talent in an Online Video
- Scott Palmer for Voiceover Artist of the Year
- Susannah Mars for Best Use of Voiceover Talent in an Online Video
- Amelia Borella for Best Use of Voiceover Talent in an Online Video
- Kitzie Stern for Best Use of Voiceover Talent in a TV Ad & Best Use of Voiceover Talent in an Online Video
- J. Michael Collins for Best Use of Voiceover Talent in a TV Ad
- Keaver Brenai for Voiceover Artist of the Year
The VO Château sat down with our own J. Michael Collins to hear what winning a Reed Award means to him, to learn more about the nuance of political voiceover work, and to get his advice for buyers looking to cast voiceover talent for their political projects.
VO Château: This is your first year being honored by the Reed Awards; congratulations! What does winning Voiceover Artist of the Year mean to you?
JMC: Well, first of all, I’m so proud to share the award with Soraya Butler as co-winners. It’s gratifying in the sense that number one, this is a part of the industry that I love. Political commercials are a part of the industry that I’ve always had a passion for. My degree is actually in political science, which I’ve never used a day in my life. In any case, it makes me happy to play in that arena in some capacity and to be recognized for it.
I’ve been fortunate enough to win awards in other parts of the voiceover industry through the years, but to some degree it’s always been the people I know voting on the awards: casting directors, agents, managers. But with [the Reed Awards], it’s a group of people judging who I don’t know, and who don’t know me. There’s a cool factor to being rewarded for your work in more of an anonymous fashion, and realizing this group of people heard it and thought, “Wow, that’s good stuff.”
Also, the candidate who I voiced the spot for won the election. The cool thing about political voiceover is it’s one of the few parts of the industry where you can actually see your effort move the needle, especially in a close race. There is an element of saying, “Alright, maybe I helped shift 10,000 votes,” you know? That’s kind of a wow factor.
VO Château: That’s amazing to hear not only did you receive the award, but you also saw your work create real impact for your client. Tell us more about the John McCann for Chula Vista Mayor campaign and the approach you took to your voiceover work that you think contributed to your success.
JMC: It was a spot in a heavily contested mayor’s race in California, and the theme of the spot was which candidate was actually being endorsed by local law enforcement leaders. There was some controversy about candidates claiming endorsements that weren’t necessarily true, and this spot was McCann making sure people understood he was the one who was endorsed.
I would describe it as an interesting hybrid of both a mild attack ad against the opponent, but also a positive imaging piece for the candidate. It was an energetic spot with a big, fast read with some power behind it.
One of the things I love about political VO is that it’s one of the few places left where VO actors can let the announcer pipes come out and shine a little bit. We don’t have to be all real, conversational, and relatable like we do with so many other genres, and it’s fun.
VO Château: Obviously, you’re a voice actor, but you’re also a coach, a casting expert, a demo producer, and more. I’d love to pick your brain on casting and hear what you would tell buyers who are looking to cast voiceover talent for political projects. What advice would you give them?
JMC: The biggest thing to look for is to make sure they fit the demographic and the audience you’re trying to speak to because different people connect differently to different groups. Whatever your message may be, you need to find a voice that is going to be relatable and believable to the people whose votes you want to sway.
That can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different places. The interesting part of that is sometimes it’s counterintuitive. Sometimes we see parties hiring voiceover professionals who don’t necessarily represent the demographic that’s most likely to vote for that party, but actually the opposite, because if they can sway just one percent of the demographic who doesn’t usually vote for them, it can significantly move a race.
The biggest thing is to just understand who it is that you’re trying to convince to vote for your candidate, or whatever your goal may be, and make sure the VO you choose is going to resonate with that audience.
Congratulations again to JMC, Soraya, Keaver, Brigid, and Bev on receiving these prestigious awards, and to Kenita, Scott, Susannah, Amelia, and Kitzie for their nominations. Finally, we offer a special thanks to JMC for sharing his story and insight with us.
Feeling ready to find the right voice for your next political campaign? Check out the VO Château’s incredible roster of award-winning political VO talent.
From coast to coast and on both sides of the aisle, we’ve worked on everything from presidential campaigns to congressional and gubernatorial races, from ballot initiatives and non-profit projects, and everything in between. Our actors are talented professionals who will deliver top-notch work on time for a reasonable rate; be the next political project to trust them with your message!
If you need some assistance finding just the right fit, email a short description of your project to Aya, our Head of Casting at email@example.com. From there, she’ll curate same-day custom auditions for you and provide a custom quote to fit your budget.
Secure the ballot with our talent – work with the VO Château today!