How I Judged The VOX Awards

Being a voice artist is one of the most wonderful jobs in the world. I know…I’m biased. I really do believe it though.

The passion we have for what we do; the soul we put into our reads; the way we can connect with other humans, is astounding. We have the power to move, to make someone feel a certain way, to summon memories and feelings that have been long forgotten. To make people laugh or cry.

We have an incredible responsibility to do our scripts, our audiences and ourselves justice.

We are professional storytellers.

The VOX Awards

What Are The VOX Awards?

The VOX Awards is one of only a few major awards nights in the UK. VOX recognises & rewards some of the most talented in our business. And this year, it was all about our humanity. How human and authentic our performances can be.

The night is not only a chance to celebrate meteoric successes, it’s a chance to network. And, in the warm glow of the many smiling faces and the lights, it’s a chance to reflect on our own performances & to think about how we can make them even better next year.

This year, I was beyond thrilled to be appointed as one of the 8 judges for the VOX Awards, an honour bestowed upon senior creatives and leading experts in the industry.

I remember the day I was asked. I remember the cocktail of excitement, pride, nerves and joy that ran through my blood. I was going to do this right, and with every piece of integrity that I had. I was going to use all of my skill, experience and care.

The voiceover community is an incredibly supportive place. I’ve never known an industry like it. You can walk into a room and ask a question, and you’ll be surrounded by people offering up advice and resources. We genuinely want others to succeed, and we go out of our way to help that happen. Many people on the outside ask “well, why would you want to help your competition? Aren’t you all going for the same jobs?”. I don’t even want to unpack that.

But I will say this – voice artists lift each other up and fight each other’s corners. We are kind, considerate. We are infinitely similar but infinitely different too.

In that spirit of love and support for my fellow VOs, I want to share some insights on how I chose my winners, to give you the best shot of finding your name on the nominations list next year.

The Voting System

How Does The Voting System Work?

When you become a judge for prestigious awards like VOX, you are invited into an online voting system. The system cannot be fiddled with, rigged or tampered with. It is an anonymised way for us to vote on the performances.

We are not given access to notes, names, profiles, experience. We also have no idea who the other judges are, and no idea how anyone else voted. If you didn’t know better, you’d actually think you were the only judge.

Each nomination category has a separate window, and in each window are the submissions, either in audio or visual format, depending on what you sent in. And next to each submission is a star rating system.

On the outside, it seems simple enough – press the number of stars that you think the performance should get.

In reality, that’s someone’s voice in there. Someone’s hope at winning. Someone’s bloody hard work.

My Assurances
To You...

How Did I Judge The Entries?

I took my time.

5 days in fact. I listened to every single second of every single performance, all the way to the black screen. When I was done, I did it again a day later, just to make sure my mood hadn’t affected anything.

And in some instances, I did it again, just because.

I was entirely impartial.

I was extremely disciplined and resolute about this.

In my positions as VO, coach and casting professional, I have been privileged to get to know many of you. I have a deep knowledge of many of your voices and your work, and I know many of you on a personal level too.

I can reassure you that none of this was reflected in my decisions. My job as a judge is to remain neutral and unbiased. I will only ever judge based on your performance, and nothing else. Ever.

The Rules

The rules for VOX submissions are simple:

1. Your entry must be entirely anonymous. No names on files, profiles, channels or credits etc.

2. Your entry must be 2 minutes or under, except for VO Performance of the Year, which could be 3 minutes.

3. Except VO Performance of the Year, all entries must only contain 1 production.

Round 1: Disqualifications

When I first considered the submissions, I didn’t actually listen. I checked the length of the submission, and I checked whether a name was visible anywhere. Anyone that didn’t meet rule requirements, was sadly disqualified instantly. My viewpoint was, if many could follow them, there is no reason why others could not.

There is no way to remove an entry from the system, but my disqualification came in the form of 1 star, and a regretful but honest report to the VOX team.

An unbelievable amount of people were removed from the running. I would urge you all to have a look at your submission length, use of personal hosting channels and name visibility. If any of these rules were broken, sadly, you would have been disqualified.

It’s a harsh but honest reality – break the rules and I have to disqualify, regardless of quality. It was heart breaking sometimes.

Please folks, please follow the rules.

Round 2: Listening

I listened to and watched every single second of every qualifying submission. I removed distractions, turned my phone to silent. If anyone interrupted me, I started the file again.

What did I listen for?

Did I feel like you’d put everything you had into the performance?

Did you help me to connect with the piece? Had you connected with it?

Had you considered the emotion of the script? Had you portrayed it in a way that was relevant to the audience? Did it feel like you’d put yourself out there with the read? Were there little pauses, breaks in the voice, anything that pulled me into the humanity? Was I able to imagine that you were channelling experience into your reads?

Did you sound templated, automated, “voiceovery”, jaggedy (alternatively, overly smooth and flat), or anything that could remotely resemble AI? If so, this was a big mark down.

How I felt at the end
Did I feel different by the time the read had finished? Did I think you’d got the point, and that you’d helped me get it too?

Comparison with other submissions
Stars were amended according to the other submissions, so that the top performers were scoring highest.

A Few Final Considerations

“Pretty” Sounding Voices
In the kindest possible way, “pretty” doesn’t cut it 😉 I’m looking for real human connection and emotion, with the context of the script taken into account.

Hard hitting content
When it comes to awards, many people believe that hard-hitting scripts or those with deeply emotional content are always going to land well with the judges.

I have a couple of thoughts on this.

First up, yes, emotional content can be incredibly powerful. It can also move the judges in a different way, but any good judge will not base a decision on the content, music and footage. If you have an emotional piece of writing and the footage/music to go with it, that’s fantastic, but we also need to hear that you have delivered on the voiceover. I want to see that you have matched the other elements & given me a performance that stands up by itself. So, don’t rest on your laurels.

Secondly, if you haven’t got one of the hard-hitting scripts I mention, but you are proud of your performance, please submit it. Your delivery is the most important thing. Bells and whistles pale in comparison to a performance said from within, whatever the content and context.


As you can see, a lot of factors went towards the final star ratings. It was a long and complex process, but one I thoroughly enjoyed and would do again in a heartbeat.

It was a privilege to have been trusted with your work.

Our industry is a beautiful, chaotic jumble of joy, frustration, complete job fulfilment, nerves, unwavering community, creativity and challenges.

We’re good at what we do because we love what we do.

And wow, you’re good at what you do.

I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Emily x

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