Voiceover has come a long way over the past few decades, and if you need evidence of that than you simply have to consider the fact that Emmys are now handed out to voiceover artists annually. In 1992, the very first Primetime Emmy Award was presented for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance. That first was actually six awards, presented to several members of the cast of The Simpsons.
Of course, even as late as 2008, this was not an award treated in the same way as those presented for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actor in a Drama. Instead of having a list of nominees, from which the winner was selected, it was a juried selection, and there was never a guarantee that anyone would receive the Emmy in voiceover, as some years came and went without anyone being awarded it. Other years, as in 1992, there would be multiple recipients.
Times have changed though. The competition in the voiceover profession has gotten much more intense. There has been greater interest in animated film and television. The technology has improved to make it easier to blend animation with voiceover for a highly convincing character. As a result, even large, long-standing establishments, like the Television Academy took notice. The juried award for voiceover was altered. Instead of having a single category for voiceover work, there were to be two. In 2014, the category was divided into Outstanding Narrator and Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance. This led to voiceover artists being recognized for work in documentaries and educational programming, as well as for work in animated television shows. The first winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Narrator was Jeremy Irons, who was the voice behind the Game of Lions, a show featured during Big Cat Week on National Geographic. Meanwhile, The Simpsons claimed yet another Emmy that year. In 2014, the Emmy Award for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance was awarded to Harry Shearer for his portrayal of Kent Brockman, Mr. Burns, and Smithers in the Four Regrettings and a Funeral episode of the popular animated show.
It is wonderful to see voiceover artists acknowledged in such a way, and a great thing for all of us choosing this as our profession.