Is union talent actually more talented than those who have not been invited to join?
The truth is not always.
It’s a catch-22 for voice-actors to get into the union. The general rule is the artist has to get a union job before he can join yet he needs to be union before he can audition. Now of course there are loop holes in joining the union or there would never be any new talent for us to hire. But finding those loopholes is not as easy to do without an agent or the right networking circle.
If you have the time for paperwork and the budget it’s great to use union talent. The actor has already been screened and hired by someone else and deemed as a talented professional suitable for use in a union production. But what is talent? What makes an actor great? Are you willing to let someone else decide such subjective questions for you? It really comes down to who’s perfect for the exact role you’re casting. This person may not have ever had the opportunity to join SAG-AFTRA or rejected Screen Actors Guild jobs to keep her non-union clientele.
With the industry today it’s hard to say if union is better. Hundreds of jobs are posted daily on voices123.com, voices.com and many other pay-to-play websites. Using these sites for auditions can be a little bit of extra effort up front while sifting through the non-union for a reason talent. But will save upfront costs, residual money and union paperwork in the end.
I’d bet if we held an audition open to only union VO talent and then another with the same copy for non-union talent we’d find very usable talent in both groups. On average I’d imagine Union would have a more steady flow of hire-able talent and non-union would have some rough patches. But you only need one diamond in the rough…so it could be worth your time to sift through the hidden gems.