Imagine being a television reporter, covering some of the biggest breaking news stories and interviewing some of the most interesting people in Canada’s largest city.
Now, imagine having to leave that career for a more reliable and safe desk job.
At some point, the creative itch would have to come back in a big way right?
Well, it certainly did for Jackie Mahon.
In an interview with Voices, Jackie Mahon shares her experiences that led her to becoming a successful voice actor and how she landed on Voices.
Her advice is incredibly valuable for those interested in pursuing a career in voice over work, amidst a job that doesn’t exactly spark their heart.
When asked about how she started in the voice over industry, Mahon shares that she spent almost a decade working in television and radio broadcasting. After leaving that career for a desk job, she missed the excitement and creativity that came with broadcasting. She decided to try voice over work and hasn’t looked back since. Preparing for a voice over gig comes with unique challenges.
“At a certain point in my life, I gave it up for a desk job that was reliable and safe,” she recounts.
“What that desk job didn’t have was excitement, creativity, fun; I missed it. One day, I thought, why not dip my toe back into the world I loved so much, but this time, with a twist; I would try voice over. And I haven’t looked back.”
Mahon shares that she found the Voices platform through extensive research, four years ago. She chose Voices because it was easy to join, affordable, and had a good reputation.
“Research. Lots of research. There are plenty of platforms out there but this was one of the top-rated ones,” she explained. “It was easy to join and wasn’t too expensive.”
Five Reasons Jackie Loves Voices
Jackie has five key reasons why she loves using Voices:
- “It’s better than an agent”
- The Quantity of Auditions
- The Quality of Auditions
- The Support
- Easy to use
1. “It’s better than an agent”
“I love the Voices platform. In fact, it’s the only platform I choose to use. I even had representation and found I was much more successful when I worked for myself,” Mahon said.
“With the platform, I get to decide what auditions I do. I get to decide if I want to play a certain character; I get to give it a try. I don’t have to hear from an agent who decides whether or not I can do it. It’s up to me.”
The platform has been her go-to choice for auditions ever since. Mahon says she loves the platform because it is better than having an agent. She can decide which auditions to do, which characters to play, and doesn’t have to wait for her agent to approve.
2. The Quantity of Auditions
“I regularly do 20-25 auditions on a given day. That compares with 1-2 a month when I had an agent,” Mahon recalls.
3. The Quality of Auditions
“Most of my auditions range in the $299-$499 range but on many days I will have one or two auditions for gigs that pay out $1799 to $3999 or more,” she said. “The auditions are also not just non-broadcast. There are plenty of opportunities with television and radio.”
4. The Support
“The people who work at Voices are the best thing about it. I have regular Voices staff that I have worked with. They are always helpful and patient and I always feel they have my back,” Jackie said.
‘I feel supported; If I have technical issues they’re only a click away. I get an answer within a few minutes.’
5. Easy to Use
“It’s intuitive and simple to use. I love the ‘filter’ function and I feel like I have a good chance at each job I go for,” Jackie said.
“With other platforms, I don’t trust that my auditions get heard by clients because you have to “earn” their ears. This doesn’t happen with Voices.”
Love for Voices’ Leadership
Jackie said the personal connection she’s made with Voices CEO David Ciccarelli has made a huge impact on her.
“David listens and even has sit-down chats with the voice actors on his platform. He makes you feel like you belong and are valued,” she explained.
“He’s even taken suggestions from his talent and I like that a lot.”
Timing is Everything
Mahon said her voice changes hourly, and she has learned to prepare for that by ensuring her voice is at its deepest and thickest when needed. She drinks water regularly to stay hydrated but avoids clearing her throat, which can irritate and tire her voice.
“My 10am voice sounds quite different to my 4pm voice. The gravitas that is pronounced and powerful in the morning has faded by the afternoon,” she explains.
“When I know the client is looking for that deeper, thicker sound I will, first, request a directed session be held in the morning, when it’s easiest to reach. If it’s not directed, I will ensure that the timeline for completion includes that magic hour of deep sound.”
VO Tip: For the recording itself, Jackie says she always has a glass of water at the ready. She doesn’t take large gulps, just small sips to keep herself hydrated. She doesn’t clear her throat, as she finds that tends to irritate and tire her voice.
Communication With Clients
Mahon also shared a challenging project she worked on.
She had a client who wanted something different from her audition, and it took some back-and-forth communication to understand what the client wanted. She invited the client to a directed session, which allowed them to connect and talk it out further.
“It wasn’t what was planned for but it allowed us to connect and I got to hear what they were trying to achieve. This way, we landed that final product and the client was happy,” she recalls.
Her advice to other voice actors is not to be afraid to invite the client to a call if the project is not landing on the first or second go.
VO Tip: Jackie likes to physically embody certain characters. She will often contort her body/face in a way that always brings her back to that character. For example, she will squint one eye and twist her face when she is playing a pirate.
Voice Over Tips for Beginners.
To stay current with industry trends and changes, Mahon takes courses and training. She also pays attention to commercials and eLearning training to see what is working and what is not.
Mahon’s advice for those interested in pursuing a career in voice over work is to be flexible, self-aware and thorough. Newcomers have the advantage of being able to try different characters and roles without being boxed in. Voice actors must also be aware of their client’s needs and deliver accordingly.
Jackie said it’s important to invest and grow in these three areas: 1. Studio and Equipment, 2. Practice and 3. Expectations.
“You need to have a great working space with proper sound buffering panels and an excellent mic. You’ll need speakers and an interface and software you feel comfortable working with,” she says of studio and equipment investments.
As for practice, do as many auditions as you can: “Even if you don’t consider them an ideal fit at the outset. You want to see what your range is,” Jackie said.
And finally have realistic expectations.
“Jump in but don’t expect to get work right away. It could take a few weeks, even months but if you love it, you’ll enjoy the process,” she said.