Since Wednesday night, I’ve had the privilege to come together hundreds of my peers and mentors at the VO Atlanta Conference, the largest gathering of voiceover talent in the world. It’s a fun experience to run into folks who’ve voiced beloved childhood cartoons or narrated a favorite TV show but, far and away, the most impressive thing about being here is just how helpful and giving the spirit of this industry is.
Maybe it’s because we know we were all drama nerds, bookworms or kids who made funny voices growing up, but there’s very little backstabbing or sabotage in VO compared to some other industries. It’s a place where one is supported and encouraged to flourish.
This year’s conference theme was “Lean Forward.”
For me, I took away three meanings from that phrase:
- When we meet a new connection or an old friend alike, it’s best to lean forward into the conversation, fully present and engaged. You never know when someone is going to gift you with a new insight or provide you with an opportunity to serve them on their journey.
- The lone cowboy myth is nonsense. We are all interdependent in this life, so moving forward requires that we lean on one another. Asking for help and making use of all available resources in your career is part of the job description.
- Becoming a better business person or actor is not accomplished in leaps and bounds, but step by step. Daily, we lean into the resistance against doing our work to advance along our path.
READ: This last takeaway reminded me of a passage I read recently in an excellent little book by David Bayles and Ted Orland titled, Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking:
“Artists get better by sharpening their skills or by acquiring new ones; they get better by learning to work, and by learning from their work. They commit themselves to the work of their heart, and act upon that commitment. So when you ask, “Then why doesn’t it come easily for me?”, the answer is probably, “Because making art is hard!” What you end up caring about is what you do, not whether the doing came hard or easy.”