Mark Hauser is an American-Canadian actor and voice actor. Having worked in the industry for nearly three decades, Hauser has an extensive filmography including live-action and animated films and television series, commercial voice-over, video game voice-over, and narration demo projects. An ACTRA Award nominee, he is known for his ability to craft dynamic characters through his voice acting and bring a comedic flair to every role he takes on.
Hauser grew up in Michigan and other parts of the Great Lakes region of the United States. From a young age, Hauser loved nothing more than to make his classmates laugh, and as he grew older this translated to a love of acting and theater work.
Eventually settling in Montreal, Canada where he still resides today with his family, Hauser found a way to turn his childhood desire to entertain into a prolific career. Receiving his first acting credit in 1996 when he was still a teenager, today he is represented by K.L. Benzakein Talent, one of the top talent agencies in the city, and has over thirty credited roles under his belt.
Noted for his talent in regional American dialects, Hauser’s in-person appearances have seen him work with other accomplished names in the acting field including Nathalie Zea, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Michael Masden. Some of his most recent voice acting work includes the animated movie SAHARA and the English-dubbed version of the popular Japanese television show Alice in Borderland.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
When you are an actor you really are in business for yourself. I was never somebody who could envision themselves in a 9-to-5 office job. The idea of sitting down and starting at a screen for eight hours a day sounds like a special kind of torture to me. So I suppose you could say I was in-part inspired by my trepidation toward any standard career.
That being said, I was always drawn to visual media and how it has the ability to transport its viewers to another place and time. As an actor, you play a massive role in facilitating that journey. Whether it be providing my voice to an animated role or myself in a live-action one, I was inspired pretty early on to be a part of the storytelling world.
How do you make money?
I feel I’m lucky to say that every day looks different for me. Acting roles require me to be in character and on set, while with voice acting I can show up in my sweats to a recording studio. Each project will have different negotiated terms and conditions based on the time commitment and significance of my role. My agent and manager help to negotiate residuals and royalties, which are typically one of the most important aspects of the contract. I’ve also done some teaching and workshops, which are both highly fulfilling and can be quite lucrative as well.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I’ve been working in the industry since I was a teenager, and I would say it took me the better part of a decade to truly feel like I hit my stride. Getting representation is paramount to finding steady work, but really the whole process is an exercise in accepting rejection. It may not feel like it, but not getting a role is rarely personal. Movies, TV shows, and video games are some of the most collaborative creative acts one can work on, and every piece of the puzzle has to fit perfectly for them to work. Perseverance in any career is the key to becoming successful and profitable.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Doubting your work and being in a creative field go hand-in-hand. In fact, I would say that self-doubt is pretty inherent to the human condition. I think practically every actor has a story of being on their last $10, telling themselves “if I don’t get this next job, I’m going home.” When you are first starting out the stakes certainly feel higher, and often are. The key is to not let that negative self-talk convince you to give up. I let that fire within me, the passion for creative work, surpass my doubt.
How did you get your first customer?
My first “customer” was probably the first acting gig I booked. I was lucky enough to know what I wanted to do with my life at a fairly young age, so by the time I was a teenager I had managed to secure an agent. After a few auditions, I went in for a part in My Hometown, a small Canadian coming-of-age television show. As usual, my nerves were absolutely shot but I felt a connection to the role, as small as it was. Having grown up in the Great Lakes area and traveling across the border to Canada often myself, the story resonated with me. I nabbed the role and the rest they say is history.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
In today’s day and age, having a personal brand is so important. Developing any sort of following on social media is leverage that can be used to show casting directors that not only are you the best choice for the role, but that you will also bring with you a dedicated viewership. My agent is responsible for working with their connections to secure me auditions, but that does not mean that I simply lie back and let them do all of the marketing work. I will also attend networking events within the acting community in Montreal to ensure that I am staying up-to-date on the latest news and marketing strategies amongst my peers.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I recently had to decide between two projects which I would rather take. One of the unfortunate realities of acting and voice work is the fact that there is often a very short window of time in which a project can be completed, and if you are not fully available during that time it cannot move forward. Both were extremely compelling to me and I was honored to be asked to be a part of both productions, but as they were being completed at the same time I could only say yes to one. Deciding these things involves much more than simply which project I am most interested in. I have to weigh time commitment, past and future professional relationships, and my own portfolio. Ultimately, I went with the project that was located closer to home, because that allowed me more time to also focus on other goals as well as my family life.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
First off, I’ve never been one to give up, and I believe if you pursue anything with relentlessness you can achieve success. However, I would say that the true secret sauce to success is remaining flexible on how you achieve it. Rigidity is the enemy of practically everything in life, whether that be your relationships, your diet, or your career. Flexibility is accepting that there are gray areas to everything in life, and just because something doesn’t take the direction you expect it to doesn’t mean it isn’t the correct path. I always believed that I would act, but it has been a wonderful surprise to find myself doing so much voice over work in my career. It allows me to flex the knack I’ve always had for accents and dialects, make people laugh, and avoid those freezing late night sets that are inevitably part of a live-action role. Had I remained rigid in how I perceived my creative journey, I might never have come to find such fulfilling work in voice acting.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I can’t in all honesty say that there has been any singular moment in my career that has stood out as uniquely satisfying. Acting and voice work in general fulfills me in a way that I’m sure so many people dream about. The feeling of satisfaction for me comes at the end of each work day, knowing that I have not only worked to support myself and my family, but also engaged in a deeply creative act that fuels my soul. For anybody looking to me for my advice, I would say look for work that appeals to that part of yourself. Not the one that searches for recognition or monetary gains, but joy in the work itself. That will inevitably invite the other two in.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I have some more exciting projects coming out over the next few years. I’m very much enjoying being a part of the English-dubbed Alice in Borderland, and I look forward to continuing my work on it as it has been a pretty popular addition on Netflix. I will continue to flex my skills and hopefully travel a bit more as production fully ramps up again in a post-pandemic world. I was thankful that voice-acting work wasn’t hit quite as hard as other aspects of the entertainment industry during the lockdowns of Covid-19, but I am thankful that appears to be behind us completely and can’t wait to see what else writers and directors have in store for my work.
What business books have inspired you?
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear took a wildly simple concept and broke it down in a way that I have never experienced before. We have been told our whole lives that good habits are the ways to inspire success, and bad habits inhibit it, but it wasn’t until reading this book that I truly understood the steps to both pick up good ones and drop bad ones. It has made a huge impact on my productivity, and generally how I see the world. I would recommend anybody and everybody read it to see improvements in both your professional and personal life.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
I recently purchased a subscription to Evernote. As someone who has never given up jotting down to-do lists on the back of receipts or creative ideas onto Post-its, it has often felt like I am always looking for “that one piece of paper I had.” A friend of mine recently suggested that I utilize Evernote as a way to still carry on in my analog ways while still organizing everything into one place. Now I can scan my Post-it notes full of ideas into a folder that is accessible on my computer and phone, along with any other notes, documents, or scraps of paper I like.
What advice would you give to others that are interested in a path similar to yours?
Start locally and build your career outward. Establish yourself in your local community, it’s a great way to build a network of support. Don’t believe that you have to move to one of the largest cities to find fulfilling and steady work in the entertainment industry. While there are certainly an endless amount of opportunities there, that doesn’t mean that where you currently are is completely lacking. Think outside the box and remain flexible to opportunities that may seem unconventional at first. These are what I have found lead to some of my favorite roles. Success is finding fulfillment in supporting yourself.