Deandra Matherson always dreamt of becoming a news anchor. But life led her down a path of beauty, event planning and entrepreneurship instead. However, with great frequency, she was asked to speak at events, and when she obliged, she was often complimented for her engaging presentation. It wasn’t long before her childhood goal translated to voice-over artistry, and it turned out to be the biggest blessing during the global pandemic.
Just how did she embark on this opportunity? She responded to an ad on Instagram posted by voice training specialist Alicia Lyttle. The mere thought of being a voice actor fascinated her, and who doesn’t love earning additional income? So she signed up for the course, completed her training, and bought her first microphone and pop filter.
“I set up my online account as best as I could, outlining different gig descriptions; DJ tags, jingles, commercials, directory assistance and others, all offered in a Jamaican accent. Our dialect is gold in the voice-acting world and you would be surprised at the high demand of Patois voice-overs or English voice-overs with what clients would consider our heavy-sounding accent,” she explained to Flair.
While she found a home within her niche, the beginning was rockier than even she could’ve ever imagined. “It takes time to set up your account, and it also does take time to build up a reputable portfolio. The first three to four months were slow, but I continued to push.”
Obstacles manifested in the home studio setting, gig pricing and equipment upkeep, but she was up for the challenges. Because it was difficult to control her external environment, the majority of the recordings in her home studio are prepared between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., when the world’s asleep. “Learning how to price your gigs was another issue; how much is too much and how much is too little to accept, while still remaining competitive. There is no hard-and-fast rule” she explained.
STRIKING A BALANCE
She eventually found a way to strike a balance between value and flexibility. “Looking back, I know some of those voice-overs weren’t the best. I didn’t know that at the time, but the clients still loved them,” she added. In many ways, voice acting, she says, is like driving a car, “The more you do it, the better you get at it. And some things you will only learn on the road or in this case, in the field.”
Six years into the profession, she has done over 100 voice-overs and has managed to maintain a five-star rating. She remains surprised by the outcome, but she is glad to have taken a leap of faith. That bold and brilliant step certainly paid off when COVID-19 made a shocking entry in 2020, shutting down the country and shifting its economy.
“When the pandemic hit, I, too, was affected. Events were at a standstill. But throughout this time, I was still doing voice-over work. I thank God for that, honestly.” Her most memorable gigs to date are for Fontana Pharmacy, her first nationally broadcast ad and High Roller Games. Hired to be a voice for the Bob Marley board game, Unity, was an honour.
She is now taking her expertise and sharing her knowledge with others by hosting an introduction to a voice-over training course on December 3.
“In the course, you will learn about the voice as an instrument, the do’s and don’ts of voice acting, finding your sweet tone, where to start, and how to get paid,” Matherson said.
She juggles a great deal, running an accessories business while being a voice actor, but she is a firm believer in time management. She hopes to one day be the voice of a major animation film by Disney or Pixar, or any major animation production for that matter.
If you are interested in becoming a voice actor, Matherson has provided a few tips on how to be successful at your craft. Be professional and always deliver on time; don’t try to imitate anyone else’s voice, you have your own authentic sound that will make you stand out; be persistent; and practise, practise, practise and have fun.