Voice actors who are asked to impersonate a celebrity voice in a commercial or other type of voice project should approach that job with caution, advises Bettye Zoller – a top voice talent, trainer and producer.
Her new article entitled, “Celebrity Voice-Over Impersonations: Be Cautious! Words to the Wise,” is located in the Voice Acting section of VoiceOverXtra.com.
Based on her experiences, research and opinions (but not legal advice), Zoller writes that celebrities with recognizable voices are keen to protect the use of their voice and income derived from it.
“It is illegal to impersonate living people in commercials without their permission,” she warns. Thus, voice actors who are asked to impersonate the voice of a living or deceased person should ensure that copyright permission has been obtained.
Celebrities have another reason to protect use of their voice, Zoller notes: contract clauses often prohibit them from doing voice-over endorsements, or from endorsing competing products.
Parodies are different from impersonations, she notes. She advises obtaining legal advice when in doubt about such projects.