reality tv

"You don't get any choice at all": Ellen Reed on the reality of auditioning for The Voice.

“I made the Grand Final in 2016 and I’m here and didn’t turn a chair.”

Ellen Reed, 30, returned as an All Star to The Voice Australia stage this year after making the final four of the 2016 season. But on Monday night, when she auditioned once again in the hopes of making it all the way this time, the singer-songwriter was unable to turn one of the judges’ chairs.

Since her audition aired this week, the Brisbane singer has shared she felt extremely anxious after the show, and says she received no psychological support from the network.

Brisbane singer-songwriter Ellen Reed auditions for The Voice Australia 2019. Post continues after video.

Video by Channel Nine

Returning in the first place, Ellen says, was a decision she didn’t take lightly. It was producers of the show that approached her first and asked her to come back, Ellen explains to Mamamia.

“You’re a weapon of a singer, we’ll be incredibly surprised if you don’t turn a chair, you just have to trust us,” Ellen recounts one of the producers telling her.

“He implied that I’d be okay,” Ellen tells Mamamia, “So I ended up being convinced to go back.”

Once she agreed, the 30-year-old says she did not have any control over what she could sing and even what she could wear.

Ellen Reed
Ellen Reed returned to audition for The Voice in 2019 after she made it to the final four in the 2016 season. Image: Channel 9.
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She wanted to sing 'This is Me' from The Greatest Showman but ended up performing Rhianna's 'Diamonds'.

"I felt like 'This is Me' was going to be a good narrative to come back with, regardless of the outcome," she says, "I felt like it was a powerful statement about how much I'd grown. [But] I was told they didn't want that for me. In the end Diamonds was chosen for me."

Ellen explains that this was consistent with her 2016 experience, telling Mamamia, "You're given songs the whole way through, you never get a choice in what you get to sing. So producers pick your song the whole way through."

And it doesn't stop there. Ellen claims she "didn't even get to choose what I wear for the audition".

"They told me what I was going to wear. So you don't get any choice at all," she says.

Throughout both her experiences on The Voice, Ellen says she felt "emotionally manipulated" many times and after the audition in February she struggled with anxiety.

"I asked to speak to an executive producer the day of my audition because I was worried about how this could negatively impact my career," Ellen continues. "But the first contact I had was about a week and a half ago, when a random person from their team said I was allowed to announce that I was an All Star."

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The contestant says two Channel 9 employees have reached out to her since her audition has gone to air, but maintains "it's just all too late".

A Channel 9 spokesperson has denied Ellen's claims about the lack of support she received, telling Mamamia, "Psychological support is made available to all artists appearing on The Voice."

"We were delighted to have Ellen back on the show as an All Star. The production team had great faith in Ellen’s ability to get through the Blind Auditions but the unpredictable nature of the Blinds which impacts every artist, All Stars included, is the possibility of not turning a chair," a Channel 9 spokesperson says. "We are sorry she wasn’t able to progress to the next round but wish Ellen all the best in her music career."

However Ellen is sure she isn't alone in her experience on the show. She's received a number of messages from other contestants who "have felt exactly the same way that I felt and have been through what I have been through".

"I feel for some of the younger people that have reached out to me as well," she adds. "It can be so damaging for a lot of people."

Ellen's time on the reality show has inspired her to write song 'You Have Been Warned', which will be released in June.

As for if Ellen would recommend aspiring professional singers to audition for The Voice, she has a clear message: "You are a chess piece and they will play you as much as they want and move you to where you want to go."

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