Meet the Canadian behind the voice of TikTok
Ontario's Kat Callaghan lends her voice to the “Jessie” text-to-speech tool of the TikTok application.
Since October, an Ontario woman has been causing a sensation on the TikTok platform. Unlike other famous tiktokeurs, the young woman does not sing or dance… she speaks! About two months ago, Kat Callaghan unveiled being the voice of “Jessie”, one of the platform's most popular text-to-speech options. Since then, her videos have racked up millions of views and garnered media attention around the world.
For months, Kat Callaghan kept the secret.
The mom, who hosts a morning radio show on 91.5 The Beat in Kitchener, occasionally received messages from listeners who thought they recognized her on the popular app, but she dared not tell them the truth.
I appreciated my anonymity. […] When you tell people, that's it, you become the voice of TikTok, and I wasn't sure that was what I wanted.
By dint of seeing people wondering about the origin of Jessie's cheerful voice on social networks, the young woman finally decided to answer them.
You asked me if I'm the voice on TikTok. I can finally tell you it's me, launched Kat Callaghan in a video published on the platform in October.
She was far from suspecting the tidal wave that& #x27;she was going to create. The video now has over 47 million views.
“People from all over the world contacted me. From Dubai to Australia, everywhere.
They tell me they feel like they know me. Obviously, this voice describing videos is not me as a person, but I realized that I am part of their life, she says.
International media quickly picked up the story. From CNN to the American shows Good Morning America and Inside Edition, some of the biggest television networks in the world have devoted reports to her.
Kat Callaghan has even been interviewed by the famous American producer Ryan Seacrest.
TikTok has over a billion users across the globe. They can use text-to-speech (also called Text to Speech technology) to read out texts that appear on the screen. The platform has nearly thirty options, including one called Jessie, created from the voice of Kat Callaghan.
The young woman, who also produces voiceovers field for all kinds of audiovisual productions, does not wish to reveal how she got this job or how her voice was recorded.
However, she thinks that what makes her successful is the cheerful and jovial nature of his voice.
“This [voice] option was different from what people were used to. […] It is more spruce, less monotonous.
— Kat Callaghan
The professor of head and neck surgery and linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), < /strong>Jody Kreiman, has been studying voice-generated perceptions for years and isn't surprised at Jessie's popularity with younger users of the platform.
According to her, it has a combination of factors that makes it particularly pleasant.
“It is bright and full of energy, very feminine, but not sexy, confident, but not aggressive. She manages to strike a nice balance.
—Jody Kreiman, Professor of Head and Neck Surgery and Linguistics, UCLA
Politicians would benefit from studying this voice. […] There is a fine line between sounding too aggressive, not feminine enough, weak, too young, but [this voice] manages to strike that balance and is very pleasant to hear, adds the expert.
Despite everything, Kat Callaghan says her voice is not unanimous.
There are always going to be people who won't like my voice and by working in my field, I've toughened up a lot. I don't mind, launches the young woman.
If synthetic voices are sometimes used for humorous purposes on TikTok, the tool also makes it possible to promote accessibility to the content of the platform, in particular for people who are illiterate, visually impaired or have reading disabilities.
A reality that Kat Callaghan had never faced before working for TikTok.
There are people who have problems with vision and who contacted me to thank me, she says.
According to her, more platforms should use this tool.
I almost feel like a spokesperson for people who need it […] I want to use my position to do good and if that means advocating for people who need more platforms that use this technology , I will, she said.