The same voice that told you to vote for Barack Obama also told you to oppose his signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal.
That would be Leif Anders, a voice actor based in Austin, Texas. Anders was hired to do voice overs for some of Obama’s election ads and, more recently, was the voice in this summer’s ubiquitous anti-Iran deal spots paid for by the AIPAC-backed Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran. On Thursday, the Senate rejected a a third attempt to dismantle the nuclear deal — which should leave the deal to take effect as Sept. 17 is the deadline for the congressional review period, by law.
Anders has done voice overs for dozens of political campaigns and commercials over the years, including an ad urging Congress to balance the budget and a spot warning of the health dangers of fracking. He’s also done commercials for the 2014 Toyota Corolla, One A Day multivitamins, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and other brands.
Anders declined to be interviewed — as anonymity appears to be an important part of the voice acting profession.
But PowerPost caught up with his D.C. manager Scott Linder, who runs a one-man talent management firm that connects Anders and other voice actors with work on campaigns like the Iran deal ads, as well as movie trailers, narrations for television programs and commercial products like razors and orange juice.
“I seek employment for performers,” said Linder, who seeks employment for about 25 voice actors from across the country.
Sometimes, that means recommending specific actors to fill a role when media producers or consultants call looking for someone to do a job. Sometimes, producers already have an actor’s voice in mind for the role, and ask Linder about their availability. Other times, producers will send a script and ask Linder to have his clients audition and send the audio back to them. Linder is paid a commission based on the performer’s earnings.
The list of campaigns and ads Linder has helped broker is long. They include the spot narrated by Alan Bleviss, the go-to voice actor for the Democratic Party — and the voice of Enterprise Rent-A-Car — for former New Jersey senator Jon Corzine; the ad narrated by actor Zac Fine for the re-election of former Michigan Rep. John Dingell; and the PBS documentary on monarch butterflies narrated by actor Stockard Channing.
Linder runs his firm, Linder & Co., out of an office near the Van Ness metro station in Northwest Washington. He opened the business in 2006 after three decades at talent management firms in New York. His first job in the industry was in the mailroom at the William Morris agency.
Linder is anticipating a good year in 2016, when all of the House, a third of the Senate and the White House are all up for grabs, and many candidates’ and lawmakers’ campaigns will be seeking voice actors.
“I anticipate that we’re going to be very busy next year,” Linder said.
Do Democrats and Republicans seek different qualities in an actor’s voice?
“No, not at all,” Linder said.
Instead, it depends entirely on whether they’re shooting a positive ad (vote for this person) or a negative ad (don’t vote for this person). For positive ads, a voice with “warmth” is the key.
“If you have a sarcastic read or innate wryness, that’s good for negative ads,” Linder said.