Someone called me out recently on having a Canadian accent, in a social setting, and wondered if that hindered my voiceover business. Actually, she assumed it did. If I wasn’t so polite, I’d have bit her head off…in the kindest, most gentlest way, of course…
It is my job to make certain I’m reading all scripts with neutrality and pronouncing words appropriate for each region. I pride myself on having clients all over North America, two thirds from the US… In casual conversation, my “out and about’s” come out… but no, my Canadian-ness does not hinder my business.
HOWEVER… in 11 years in business, there ARE two instances when being Canadian was actually fairly embarrassing…
In 2006, I started reading many retail spots and promos for TV affiliates in the States and Canada. I received a script for a familiar, fast food restaurant, Chick-fil-a. While I had previously lived in both NY and California, I was living in Ottawa, Canada and was somehow unfamiliar with the chain.
Being Canadian, and totally missing the obvious, I pronounced it “chick-FILL-ah”!!! You know, like Clam Chowdah?
I guess they should know, if they are sending a script to a Canadian, you need to spell it “chick-fill-EH”!! (wink)
Super embarrassed when they sent it back for a re-read and I realized my foolish blunder.
North of the Border
Much more recently, I had an awkward interaction with a client I’d worked with for about a decade. I NEVER make comments on the scripts I read. I read ’em as I see ’em. In this case, however, good, socially conscious Canadian that I am, I felt I needed to mention something. The content was risky and I needed to ask if it could be perceived as offensive to aboriginals or Native Canadians. (The station I was reading for is very close to Canada.)
The liner: “We’ll go north of the border and check in on the Indians.”
As a Canadian, reading that line, of course “north of the border” is how Canada is usually referred to… “Indians”, however, is not a term that we use.
My message to client: “…I must mention that I found that very strange to read and am curious what the story is about. If it’s about Native Americans or Native Canadians, it’s extremely politically incorrect to say “Indians” anymore…blaa, blaa, blaa, niceties, niceties, niceties…”
His response: “I understand your concerns, but until the team changes its name they’re still our team.”
Turns out, my client is in Cleveland. Ummm. They were referring to the Cleveland Indians.
I’m grateful to say, both these clients are still hiring me.