The Importance of Being Grateful

I ran into voice actor Steve Zirnkilton at the Cracking the Voiceover Code event in New York last month. Steve is a very busy actor, with extensive promo credits on all of the major networks and half of the cable channels.

Despite his long list of top-notch clients, Steve will always be best known for voicing the opening lines of the Law & Order television series – arguably the best known voice over script in popular culture (other than “In a world …”).

So, back to the event. After meeting him, I uttered the words that I knew were a mistake the moment they left my mouth: “Hey Steve, could you give me 10 seconds of `In the criminal justice system, … ?’”

Steve is a gracious guy. He politely delivered the opening lines of Law & Order on demand, as I’m certain he has been requested to do as party entertainment 10,000 times before. I squirmed.

A few days later I was emailing with Zirnkilton about something else, and felt the need to apologize for the request I made of him at the event. His response was humbling, and all voice actors should adopt this “attitude of gratitude” about what we have chosen to do for a living.

Excerpted from Zirnkilton’s email response to my apology:

“ … and when it comes to people asking me to do the Law & Order opening. No matter how many times I'm asked to do it, I can look at it two ways. I can think of myself as a circus monkey doing tricks, or, I can look at it for what it really is; how incredibly lucky am I that I am in a position to deliver the opening line of a television show known by millions. I promise you I'll never get tired of that!”

I’m certain Steve’s career will continue to prosper. And it won’t only be because of his considerable talent, but also because of his attitude. Nice guys do finish first.

Graeme Spicer is Edge Studio's Managing Director and he teaches Business and Money 101. For more information about Graeme or any other Edge Studio instructor, please call our office at 888-321-3343.

Love it!

I really loved reading this! I believe in this so much--how important it is to be grateful, and remain that way...for all the wonderful things in your life. What a great example to share of someone who has been so successful in the business. Thank you for sharing!

What a Class Act!

Graeme - I read the story hoping for the outcome presented. Steve is obviously a classy person with his heart and appreciation of his talents in check. I love hearing stories like this becuase it reminds the rest of us WHY it is so important to treat not only ourselves, but others with respect & gratitude. I find that to be at least 50% of the reason why we get call backs for more work.

I didn't know that about Steve Zirnkilton until today. Now when I hear the Dum-Dum musical stab on L&O, I'll have a renewed respect for it and Steve. Thanks for sharing.


For what it really is

You framed your article so well, using Steve as the perfect example. I don’t know Steve, but I do know someone who has worked closely with him for years. Steve’s incredible gratitude seems to be apparent to all who meet him, and that can only happen if it comes from his heart.



Thank you Graeme for the reminder that the only response to a compliment is, "Thank you."


An attitude of gratitude is always worth it. If you make yourself aware of it, your moments will always improve.

Grateful for gratitude

Graeme, what a great story...thanks for sharing it. And thanks for the subtle reminder!



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