Subtracting celebrities from voice acting

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Tatyiana Davis

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It’s no one’s guess that countless kids grew up with animation. Still, as adolescents, we often don’t see what truly lies behind the scenes. Tara Strong voicing Timmy Turner from The Fairly OddParents and Tom Kenny voicing Spongebob from Spongebob Squarepants are only a few examples of practiced voice actors whose talent is less recognized. Did you know Tara Strong can not only voice a pubescent boy but also the elderly mushroom pixie from Chowder, Truffles? Or the alien-wielding boy Ben from Ben 10? Kenny, likewise, voices both Spongebob and his pet Gary the snail. Voice actors can be held in high regard for their flexibility and work ethic. Today, though, it seems that all you need to be apart of this voice acting world is to be an A-List celebrity. 

In recent years, Hollywood actors have dominated animation. From Eddie Murphy as a red Chinese dragon in Mulan (1998) to Beyoncé voicing Nala in the Lion King (2019). Myself and others appreciate the fun of trying to pick out our favorite celebrity speaking for a character; more so if said actor does a good job. At the same time, however, non-famous voice artists are being stripped of their livelihood. It wasn’t always this way

Myself and others appreciate the fun of trying to pick out our favorite celebrity speaking for a character; more so if said actor does a good job.”

Until the 1990s, animated characters were generally performed by voice actors known in the industry, but not to the public. Then in 1992, when the late Robin Williams gave his memorable performance as Genie from Disney’s Aladdin, incorporating celebrities in animation really took flight. Nowadays, we’re getting Will Smith voicing a pigeon (Spies in Disguise) and LeBron James as a Yeti (Smallfoot). The influx of star-studded casts are understandable due to big-budget studios and high payments. Mike Meyers, who worked as Shrek, accumulated about $108,000 every minute he was on the film. His co-stars, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy, collected $10 million total for their roles. Reese Witherspoon in Monsters vs Aliens received an estimated $10 million and Steve Carell in Despicable Me received an estimated $500,000. 

Not all celebrities have the intention of just showing up to a recording booth, saying some lines and then receiving expanses of money for doing close to nothing. It’s also the fault of the company. Many animation studios disregard plot entirely and rely only on A-Listers for money and views in the theatre. Both the studio and their cast can potentially make easy cash. Underrated voice artists may not be household names in comparison to movie actors, but they still deserve to be able to stand their own against competition.