“Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.”
— Brian Tracy
With VO Atlanta fast approaching, I find myself reflecting on my experiences both on-camera and in the voiceover industry, and the many interesting places a career in video and voiceover has taken me. Before the pandemic, I loved attending conferences to stay up to date on the latest corporate and commercial trends and connect with other people in the industry. But, there’s no doubt our world looks different now– COVID has impacted every part of our lives and kept us all apart for longer than we could have imagined.
I have especially missed the days of traveling. My love of travel began with a college study abroad program, and since then I’ve realized many times over that any trip you take is an education. What we do while traveling … is study and learn! We’re immersed in the people, the culture, the food (definitely the food) the language, the locale. Travel makes us more knowledgeable, more aware of the world around us, and more capable of communicating effectively, regardless of the project we are communicating about. Every year, my goal is to get as many stamps on my passport as possible (made much more difficult by the pandemic, of course). What this is really about, though, is gaining more experiences and more knowledge outside of the office and audio booth where I spend the bulk of my time.
There’s just something about travel– whether it’s near or far, it’s an addiction driven by my desire to learn. When you can combine personal travel with work, it’s truly impactful. Last year, I was able to attend J. Michael Collins Voiceover EuroRetreat in Dublin. The whole experience was a huge attempt to do something so wildly outside of my comfort zone– and I’m so glad I did.
At the retreat, I gained insights that have helped me grow as both a person and a voice actor. The first lesson being; sometimes you have to try something you think you won’t be good at … just to confirm that you really aren’t good at it! Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that with enough hard work, anyone can be decent at anything. I just don’t always think it’s worth the hard work that could be applied to another area that you naturally enjoy and excel at. Sometimes crossing something off the list just makes room for expansion of what’s already there.
The other important lesson I took away from Dublin was that pushing the boundaries of what’s comfortable is the only way to learn. As much as we become experts in those things we do every day, once we’ve mastered those daily duties, we no longer learn from them.
Reflecting on these lessons, and knowing the impact they’ve made on me makes me excited to travel again. Soon, I’ll be heading to VO Atlanta. It’s not overseas, but it is the first major conference I’ll be attending in person since the pandemic began. It’s also the first time in the past two years that the VO industry is coming together by the thousands. The “getting together” is just as important as the workshops we may attend and the speakers we may hear along the way. It’s all too easy to fall into your own style of auditioning and work when you’re working alone and in a few select genres. When you’re immersed in an eLearning series on climate change, or a medical documentary on pediatric miracle innovations, you tend to forget there’s a world of people out there to have two-way conversations with. Conferences give us a chance to expand our industry knowledge and socialize with one another in person (the best part)!
This year, I’m excited for the opportunity to learn, gather together and feel a sense of community. The work that we do can be isolating– it can be a very individual job when you’re spending most of your time alone in an audio booth reading and re-reading TV narration scripts, and although that’s part of what makes it cool, it can be difficult in combination with social isolation (and after two years of pandemic isolation, I bet a lot of people – regardless of their line of work – feel this way).
I’m grateful for this industry and the ways it allows me to continue my passion for life-long learning.