In 2018, whilst at a VOND event in Central London, I found myself in the midst of a gaggle of voice actors, talking about this incredible voice over conference in America, VO Atlanta. What was this? Why did they all look so hyped? Well I didn’t care what it was, anything that made a group of grownups that excited, had me sold from the start. I wanted to feel like that. I wanted to feel THAT excited about something! So after awkwardly muscling in on their conversation, I marched over to Rachael Naylor (who I barely knew at the time) and said
“Ummm ok sure” she said “Where’s that now?”, looking confused
“In 2019, I WILL go to VO Atlanta” and with a slightly startled, scared but excited look in her eyes, she said
“Yes! Ok! Great! Do it! Just go for it!”
And so THAT is what I did!
Full of excitement, nerves, anticipation and hunger, I boarded the plane to Atlanta, Georgia. I knew the conference would be a place that I could learn and educate myself about different areas of the industry but it turned out to be so much more than that. Networking and creating opportunities is such an integral part of building and sustaining our careers and by getting out of your booth, out of your comfort zone and surrounding yourself with members of the voice over community from all over the world, is never going to be anything other than positive! I adore my fellow Brits, but there is something about the Americans that will always make networking and socialising so much easier than here at home in the UK. Their natural openness, smiling faces, desire to learn about you and where you’re from, meant that I never felt alone, in fact, being at VO Atlanta just felt like I’d come home. Any nerves I had were put at ease the minute I was greeted by the beaming face of one of the conference ambassadors at the reception desk.
“Hey! Welcome to Vo Atlanta. Here’s everything you need to know, here’s your programme, here’s your goody bag, want to sign up to our talent screening tomorrow? “
”errrrm yes! I don’t know anything about it yet but yep, sure, why not!” Sieze the day and all that!
The programme at VO Atlanta is packed full of sessions that cover a whole array of areas in VO. There are actually so many, that I found it was best to make myself a schedule. Here in the UK, I currently work in Commercials, Promo and Radio but I didn’t really know anything about those parts of the industry in the US and had no American contacts, so I took myself off to sessions where I could learn more and speak to US agents, demo producers and American voice actors. By the end of each day, your head wants to explode because you have taken in so much information.
From listening to the superb keynote from Kay Bess, to my wonderful X Session with Heather Dame at Atlas Talent, to learning about Imaging from Eric Romanowski and Video Game Casting with Randall Ryan, to the awesome 80’s party on the final evening of the conference, VO Atlanta was everything and more.
If you’re looking to attend the conference for the first time then make sure you seize every opportunity to speak to fellow voice actors, producers, writers, sound engineers, actors and speakers. It is likely, even if you haven’t travelled half way across the world as I did, that you’ve travelled a fair few hours and you’re not going to be surrounded by this community for maybe another year, so don’t sit back. Make friends. Go to X Sessions that are held by producers or agents that you want to connect with. Get to know people. Listen to their stories. Be open. Be present. If there is a talent screening, go! If there is a social drink, join in! If there is a dinner party, go eat! Since attending, I am now in talks with two American agents, a video gaming casting director, am putting everything in place to gain my 01 Visa to work in the US and have made shed loads of new friends. Life is short and so is VO Atlanta….so do not waste a second!
By Karis Pentecost
A LONDON BASED BRITISH VOICE OVER ARTIST WITH 10 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN COMMERCIALS, RADIO & CORPORATE NARRATION.