*Discloser most of this was written less than one week after finishing the Conference*
Have you ever had expectations for an event, and, somehow, the event surpasses all those expectations? This has only happened to me a few times, but the recent 2021 One Voice Conference in Dallas, Texas was definitely one of them. I’ve NEVER been to a conference in my life—let alone one for voice over. I have been to conventions and expos but never a professional-type conference; I never had a need to. None of my day jobs had a need for it, and any hobby I had was more likely to take me to a convention. I’m not going to lie, I expected a convention and conference to be similar events. I was SO wrong.
One Voice Dallas took place over four days at the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport. I flew in on a Thursday from Utah to Texas. This was my first time flying alone in over eight years and my first trip without my husband of six years. This was also my first trip having been vaccinated against COVID-19. I was going through so many emotions: excitement, nervousness, scared, but the biggest emotion I felt was motivation.
On the first day of the conference, the main events included a “Meet and Greet” social along with the opening ceremony; this was a make or break moment. For those who know me, I am a talker (In voice over? Who’d have thought?). I love talking and having conversations with others, but breaking the ice and reaching out to people to be the first to talk—not really my strong suit. I was sitting (or standing, rather) at a table looking around at people, when David Bregman, Gary Stern, and Shelley Baldiga saw me and reached out to me to join in on their conversation. I am exceedingly thankful for these people; they truly helped make the weekend even better than it would have been. As the weekend continued, our little group grew. We added Sara Ormenyi, Bryson Carr, and Rosanna Pilcher. My Thursday night came to a close, and I was even more excited for the main events.
Friday morning—my alarm went off and I hadn’t slept very well. I decided I needed to hit snooze, even though I knew I’d miss the keynotes. By the time I was actually up and ready to go, I went to get myself some coffee and head to my first session. To my surprise, the keynotes hadn’t yet started. I was still on MST and everything was an hour later than I expected it to be. Good thing too—a random drawing to get a chance to read in front of an agent happened during the keynotes (spoiler alert: I got in). I also got to sit with someone I’d met before, Robbie Shelburn. Robbie and I first met through a Zoom social for voice actors a few months back. I had no idea she was coming and it was SO nice to finally meet her in person!
Another person I got to meet was Kristian Eros. Kristian and I met through a voice over Facebook group. We didn’t really get a chance to talk, but I’m still grateful we finally got to meet!
Friday continued, and, for every single session I attended, I was endlessly thankful and I enjoyed each one tremendously. The only negative thing about Friday had nothing to do with the sessions—I was under the impression we were getting free lunch, and that didn’t happen. Instead, we got two free drinks at a mini bar. For some, I’m sure the exchange was worth it (I’m not much of a drinker).
The Friday sessions I went to included “The Voice of Your Client’s Brand in Commercials” with Kay Bess; “The Voice of Gen Y/Z Commercial Performance” with Rachel Wohl; “Read for an Agent” with Portia Scott (not the one for which I read); a “Corporate, E-Learning, and Medical Narration” panel; “It’s Time to get Animated: the Basics of Voiceover” with Katie Leigh; and “How to Nail Online Auditions” with Carin Gilfrey. I have so much I could say about each of these, but that would make this post WAY too long. Bottom line: I enjoyed them all.
On Saturday, I had a late morning, because the night before included a Fiesta Party—BOY was that fun. I did miss half the keynotes on Saturday morning, but I plan on going back and listening to them; I hear Valentina Latyna had an amazing story. The first class I had for the day was “Build a Badass VO Career with a Powerhouse Account.” Aka an accountability group. I know I didn’t talk specifically about any of the sessions I did on Friday, but this was likely the most helpful session I attended throughout the whole conference. With the group of people I met at the conference, we actually did make an accountability group. So far, I have found them very insightful.
The other sessions I attended were “The Future of Online Casting: the Five Year Roadmap” with Armin Hierstetter; “Video Games: What You’re Doing Wrong (or Right)” with Randall Ryan; “The 360-Degree Conversational Experience” with Anne Ganguzza; “Wait, Can I Do Dubbing?” with Valentina Latyna; “Read for an Agent” with Sumeet Iyengar (this is the session in which I read); and I finished the day off with an “Animation & Video Games” Panel. There was also an award ceremony on Saturday but I didn’t attend. I didn’t submit anything, so I didn’t buy a ticket for the event. Instead, I decided to relax and spend the rest of the night in my hotel room with a nice slice of pecan pie from the hotel restaurant.
I will say, I didn’t expect to be so nervous reading for the agent session. I was up in front of a crowd of physical people—something I haven’t done in years. There was also a digital audience (that I couldn’t see) and, of course, Sumeet Iyengar—the agent. My dyslexia was getting the best of me for the first three reads, but the fourth read I did I felt so good! I was so confident, and, in hearing the reaction of those who heard it—well, let’s just say I may still be riding that high.
Now, we arrive at Sunday—the last day of the conference. There were three things listed for that day, the first of which I decided to skip. I went straight to “Script Analysis/Acting” with Paul Cartwright, which had a pre-session an hour early. It was the right call; I learned so much that has already been incredibly useful for me. The conferenced finished off with the closing ceremony, and we all said our good-byes.
What is my takeaway from this conference? I learned more from the people I met and networked with than I expected. Even though I had to budget and save up for this trip, I’m thrilled I made it happen! I feel like, when I look back, this conference is going to have been one of the best things to happen for my voice over career. There were a few technical difficulties that I hope will get addressed for next time, especially since I plan on going back next year and hope to meet up with everyone again (and to meet more new people). Even if you have to go by yourself like I did, don’t let it hold you back!