I am sure you have seen a social media post which goes something like this: “I was reading a script today and it took me ten tries to say ‘curiously conumbrillated confrigulation’. In case you are curious, I do have a list of things that struggle to come out of my mouth intelligibly*. Unfortunately, the one I struggle with the most is, you guessed it, my own name. You read that correctly. I can’t say my name.

Well, to be technically correct, I can say my name. It’s pretty generic after all. The real problem I have is saying my name well. You know, so it doesn’t sound completely stupid. No, really. Why are you looking at me like that?

By the way, there is a special gift for those who read through this blog post to the end, so keep going!

More is better?

I’ll admit it. I literally have to say my name at least three times every time I slate to try to come up with a version which doesn’t lack confidence, sound too cocky, sound like I have never heard the words before, or like I am actively wondering why I couldn’t have been A Boy Named Sue instead of Jon Gardner. At least that would be interesting, and Johnny Cash would write a song about me. Has anyone ever written a song about a boy named Jon Gardner? No. Point made.

Of course, we are often asked to slate our auditions with our name. No big deal, just say your name up front, then get on with business. Easy! Unless you’re like me. If you are, I am sorry for you but it isn’t my fault, I had nothing to do with any mental abnormalities you may have even if they are similar to my own, plus I don’t even know your mother and too much time has gone by to collect back child support anyway.


There is a debate among some people in the industry regarding whether or not to slate, and when. What I never see them talk about is what to do if your slate causes little old ladies to recoil in horror, and adolescent bullies to point and laugh. What if you can’t say your own name—at least in a way that sounds natural?

The dirty work

There are so many other questions. Do I say the slate in the same headspace I was in as I read the script, or say it as if introducing myself to a stranger? Should I try to sound cheerful—after all, I want them to like me, right? Do I do the trendy thing and say it disinterestedly? Like I’m going insane trying to figure it out?

This is what I am here for: to ask the hard questions that nobody else thinks about dares to ask.

Let me add something here in a likely futile attempt to keep you from thinking I am completely bonkers. This problem I have saying my name well isn’t just my imagination (notice that I did not say it was NOT my imagination, only that it is not JUST my imagination). I have actually been told by a VO coach whom I admire and respect that the way I slate is something that, shall we say, I need to work on. Don’t worry, my feelings weren’t hurt. Far from it. Where would we be if not for the people in our lives who can gently speak truth to us so we can learn, grow, and develop our internal anxieties to the point where they cripple us?

Who’s obsessing?

Why am I obsessing about this? I mean, other than my personal mental quirks? Right or wrong, we know that most of our auditions are only listened to for a few seconds before an assessment is made. We have been told over and over by coaches, agents and casting directors how important those first few seconds are and how critical it is to stand out in a good way.

Then it dawns on me that the first few seconds of my auditions are actually MY NAME, not my performance! It is at this moment that I theoretically might have gotten a mental burr under my saddle blanket which has henceforth caused a tiddle of a hitch in my giddyup every time I say my name. Or can’t say my name.

It’s only human

So I wonder, and this is the crux of what I am so laboriously getting to, if sometimes the casting director, agent, or client might hear us say our name in a slate and judge us based on that, before they even get to the performance? And even if they continue to listen to the first few seconds of the performance itself, has that quick taste of our slate flavored the way they perceive what follows? It seems nearly inevitable. We can’t help but judge by what we see and hear. And although it is human to do so, those judgements are often wrong.

I also can’t avoid wondering how many times I have not been cast because the person who is casting couldn’t get past how I sounded on my slate. Sound far-fetched? Keep reading!

Does it really matter?

In short, yes. I have proof.

After I had written the initial draft of this blog post, Tina Morasco announced the availability of the latest addition to her coaching Library. In it, she puts herself in the position of being a Magic 8 Ball for us, answering all of our most burning questions. Oh, you haven’t heard of Tina or her Library? If so, you owe it to yourself to click the previous link (after you have finished reading this blog). Tina is a top-tier casting director who tells it like it is, and since she decides whose auditions get submitted to the client, her insights are incredibly valuable to us voice actors. Plus, she is genuinely pleasant, quirky-funny, and personally open in a way which makes learning from her effortless. A treasure to be sure—and she didn’t pay me to say that or anything, so stop being so suspicious.

Christmas has come early!

As a gift, and entirely without my begging, pleading, sending gifts or even incessant emails, Tina has graciously given every reader of this blog a 15% DISCOUNT off of her Library. Simply use the code Gardner15 when checking out. How freakishly cool is that?

Anyway, one of the questions Tina (I think I will just call her “8 Ball” from now on) answered “just happened” to be about slating. I don’t know how she got an early copy of my blog so she could know copy my latest subject, but she obviously did. However, being the gentle kind soul that I am, I choose to forgive her for attempting to usurp my topic, and in reciprocation will henceforth confiscate her words without guilt as I make my point.

Tina says, in complete agreement with me I might add, that one of the reasons she asks for no slates on her auditions is because “People have a hard time saying their name authentically, as crazy as that sounds”. She goes on to say about herself, “When I slate, it comes off as rehearsed and singsongy, just because it has lost all meaning at this point”. Which brings up the question, is singsongy even a word? Either way, I can now claim to not completely completely bonkers, because Tina has the same problem (although probably without the twisted overthinking and emotional wrestling I am prone to).

But wait, there’s more!

The most important question I have asked is whether my concern over slates really matters. To this, Tina says, “…sometimes I find myself judging the read before it’s even started, based on the slate”. Vindication! My paranoia concerns have proven true! You may now apologize for judging me so harshly earlier in this article.

In the grand scope of things, our slates may not be something to lose sleep over. On the other hand, why do anything which could get in the way of potentially booking the job? I, for one, have chosen to not slate unless there is a specific reason to do so. In those cases, I will say it two or three times, agonize over which to use, pick one, then try to not to lose sleep thinking about how stupid it sounded. *sigh*

Speak up!

So, has anyone else ever wasted their time thinking about how they say their name like I have? What does the way you say your name say about you? Is it good or bad? Indifferent? If indifferent, is that good or bad? If being indifferent is good or bad, is it really indifferent? Can it be an asset? Can it distract from your performance? What say ye? Aaarrr! (Sorry, I lapsed into writing like a pirate for a moment for no apparent reason. These things happen). *ahem* Comment below!

Also, don’t forget your Christmas present15% off Tina’s Library by using the promo code Gardner15. I don’t know how long she will keep the discount active, so jump on it while you can!

*For the record, I can have a difficult time saying rural, community, and for some unknown reason, home. It is probably some psychological quirk which can be traced back to my childhood. The “ho” part is fine, but the rest kind of trails away into nothingness… Heaven help me if I ever see a script with “rural community home” all together in one sentence.


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4 Responses

  1. Great blog Jon, (did I say that right ?😉) haha… love your word-smithing. Or wordsmithing ? Great… that sounds like a slate now.
    Thanks for this entertaining 5 minutes buddy!!

    • Ha ha! Thanks, Brad! I feel like I should apologize for the length. Even by my standards this is a long one… but I named it The TL;DR Voice-Over Blog for a reason, didn’t I?

  2. Great article, Jon.

    I picture myself meeting someone at a networking event and reaching out to shake their hand with a smile.

    And yeah, I feel your pain. I told my mother she should have said my name out loud a few times before she decided (since my first name ends with the snake sound my last name begins with).

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