Why the hell do you want a headshot?

So as a Voice Over talent, you’re seeking some new or possibly your first agency representation. You’ve got all the agents you want to submit your demo(s) to lined up and there it is, Bam!, they want a headshot. But hey, you’re hiring me for my voice, not my looks. You say to yourself, self, “I have no desire to be on the business end of a camera, why in the hell do you need a headshot!?”

Look, I don’t pretend to have the answers on this one and to be honest, I can understand the concept of the agent wanting to put a mug behind the voice. You might say, “Oh hell, it’s just a picture, send them one.”

Here’s a couple of reasons why a headshot to go along with your presence on an agencies website or roster might be a bad idea:

  • I spent a number of years programing and consulting radio stations and radio networks and one rule (why yes, there were many) was that they should Never-Ever-Ever put an on-air talents picture on a billboard, website, sales materials or any damn where. Why you ask? Because it’s all theatre of the mind. The listener has formed a picture in their mind of what they “think” the talent might look like, and it’s never going to match reality. There’s a reason for the old adage “… you have a face for radio.” The listener will always be disappointed. For years the morning personality The Greaseman kept his identity a mystery. Why? It’s theatre baby.
  • Not everybody sounds his/her age. I can pull off and often do manage to land jobs for VO gigs that call for someone much younger that I am. Put my mug shot up and someone looking for a Gen X or Y voice will see my salt and pepper mane and think there is no way in hell I’m going to hire that old geezer. Putting a picture behind the voice has blown the theatre of the mind and might influence a potential client negatively when it comes to a hire for a voice younger than my actual DOB.

It’s not that I am completely adamant about the concept of including a headshot with your VO actors resume, on a agents web site or even on your own web site, let’s just point out the fact that it might not always be in your best interest for you or your agent to do so. And in closing, let me just say, “Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!”

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