His voice captures our attention for an exciting new movie trailer; announces the latest high-tech driving features in a luxury car commercial; alerts us to what’s coming up next on our favourite TV shows, and voices cute animation characters in Hollywood blockbuster movies…and that’s all in a day’s work for Nick McKay, one of Australia’s most famous voices.
After graduating with an acting degree from NIDA, Nick resigned himself to the typical jobs actors do – waiting tables, packing supermarket shelves, and the 2am petrol station shifts. As a dramatic arts student, he had long abandoned the likelihood of ever affording things like his own home or being able to financially support a family; yet everything in him believed that being in this industry was the direction he was meant to be taking: regardless.
A quick coffee with this talented man, who has become one of our highest rating voiceover artists, uncovers the secret to one of the acting worlds most sought after, yet mysterious, sides.
Who has inspired you most on your journey? James Earl Jones, Sir Richard Attenborough, Don LaFontaine, a cool dude called Jesus Christ and my Dad. Actually both my Mum and Dad have been great critics. They’re the ones who have watched everything right through from my first school plays, and they are the ones I knew I could really listen to.
What is the biggest achievement in your career so far? Being a husband and a father was a no-brainer. And now as a single Dad, after Ali lost her battle with cancer, my career still follows after what I prioritise – my three boys. I was worried about how that would all work at first, but people are happy to suit around that.
The career highlights, so far, would have to be emceeing the Sydney Olympic Games after-party, being a voice of Channel Seven, and doing American movie trailers.
Oh, and I also discovered a new species of cicada when I was a kid and it’s named after me. True! It’s called Cicada McKaya.
As a Dad, how have you taken your family on the journey with you? Their Mum, Ali, was in the industry too, so all the boys have had an early start with their own television careers. They’ve grown up doing things like the Huggies ‘I’m a Big Kid Now’ campaigns. My youngest, Benji, is the kid who says, “Thanks Mum, for making my clothes so cugg-el-y.”
Having a family has given me the ability to walk in, use the skills I have as an actor, and walk back out. And it has made me the best bed-time story reader!
I feel so blessed because God has never let me go without – even though I don’t know where the next job is coming from day to day. And I’ve had some wonderful opportunities to be a voice for God. I’ve even been cast as the voice of God on occasion. (I couldn’t resist asking for a demonstration. Trust me, it was impressive!).
How would you encourage others who would like to do what you’re doing? Go for it, but keep it real. Don’t act. Really learn your instrument. And remember the power of the word. One of the most important points of talking is listening: You’ve got to listen before you learn to talk – whether it’s dialects, voices or accents. We’ve got two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
Also, try to avoid using, ‘um,’ ‘ah’ and ‘like’ when you talk. Don’t speak in comparisons.
In your world, what is the one non-negotiable that you won’t compromise on? Jesus. It sounds so cliché, but if you’re asking ‘what would I die for,’ it’s my faith: knowing that whatever happens, God’s got it. I know that if I lost my voice, God’s got something for me next.
I never thought I’d be able to own my home, or send my boys to a school of my choice. I thought, well, I’m going to be an actor; it’s going to be all share housing and struggle street. But God has called us to be the head and not the tail. I pray Deuteronomy 28 and the blessings of Psalm 91 daily over my boys. And I’m very thankful. I know that I’m not worthy of all this. I’m very aware of God’s grace. I’ve had so much joy and there is still much joy to come: Even after being married to Ali.
I hear Brian Houston on a weekly basis at church say, ”The best is yet to come,” and I take that on in my life. Each day is the best day of my life. It’s so Australian to say, “How ya going?” and answer, “Yeah, good.” But I now say, “Best day of my life.” It stops people in their tracks. I know that without my faith I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. Today really is the best day of my life.