Jon Bell-Clement, double majoring in zoology and art, is a North Dakota State student with a passion for voice acting and having a job.
His first voiceover job is a commercial advertising PrEP, a drug that is taken as prescribed that decreases the risk of an HIV negative person to become infected with the virus through their HIV positive partner.
This advertisement runs the risk of push back from the community because it emphasizes the use of the drug between gay males who engage in penetrative sex.
Clement works through a local Fargo company named Video Arts. However, the company works on a national scale, but allows people in the Fargo area to engage in a large scale commercial.
Aspiring voice artists, or “hired guns” as Clement says, go in for an audition and months later get called back for a demo. That voice demo is then put up on Video Arts webpage where clients can scroll through the voiceovers and pick the voice they’re looking for their commercial.
In others words, Clement didn’t go looking to advertise an agent that’s typically used for gay sex, but he’s also not shying away from the opportunity either.
PrEP is not necessarily an alternative to condoms, though it does decrease the likelihood of contracting the virus when used as prescribed, and the commercial has been approved through the North Dakota Department of Health to make the gay community more aware.
To Clement however, it was a job.
“The meaning kind of sank in later,” Clemenet said. “I’m the voice that’s telling people that if they want to practice safe sex and lower the rate of sexually transmitted infection transmission, they have that option… it means my gay, bi, or pan friends can use PrEp to avoid getting a nasty disease.”
Based off Fargo’s recent pride rally, Clement doesn’t expect the backlash from the commercial to be substantial, but some people may be unsure how to react.
Clement is unsure as to where or to what audience the commercial will be aired or what demographics will see it.
“I think it’s important even if it’s uncomfortable for people to talk about,” Clement said, maintaining that public health trumps how comfortable the public is with the topic of STI’s and gay sex.
Clement said that, up until now, his participation in the LGBTQIA community has been mostly passive, but that this commercial allows him to take a more active role in a community he’s always supported.