It’s been over 2 years since I have attended a Voice Over conference in person. The excitement was two-fold, to be a part of the first-ever in person (and second annual virtual) One Voice USA Conference. There is so much opportunity for career growth and to interface with so many people who can make a difference to your VO career. One Voice Dallas 2021 was an event full of voice-over wisdom and camaraderie.
My wife had arranged for us to meet some friends downtown Dallas, so we took the Orange Dart Rail which took about an hour to get from the airport. It was an experience, but we were able to visit the Dallas Arts District and had a couple of hours at the Dallas Museum of Art. They have a fantastic collection of European Impressionist Art and I thoroughly recommend peeking into the Reves Collection (Not least because Wendy Reves was born a Russell!) Our friends gave us a brief driving tour and we were back at the hotel ready for the Conference Welcome Drinks Reception and opening ceremony. The official kickoff was given by J Michael Collins & virtually by Hugh Edwards and Peter Dixon (as travel is not currently allowed from the UK to US).
Friday and Saturday were full-on with workshops and panels. The general tickets provided free access to a wonderful range of workshops and panels. Along with a selection of longer more intense workshops with great coaches for an additional fee. There are so many offerings that I had to select what I would like to see in person but knew that the general panels would be on Reattendance when I got back. I attended a 3-hour session: 'Getting the attention of Ad Agencies: Performance Feedback' with Producer Kelsea Seavey of Calibrate. There were 8 of us that read, were critiqued and given viewpoints from the other side of the casting fence.
Lunch options were limited, as all the restaurants at the airport terminals are for current travelers only. The hotel’s Jett's Coffee Bar was the convenience option with pastries, sandwiches, and the like and the hotel had its Restaurant open too for those who wanted a buffet breakfast or sit-down meal.
My second session was with the magnanimous VO Coach and voice-over artist, Shelly Avellino. I have known Shelly through the USBBV group but got to know her better through the conference. Her workshop – 'Bridging the VO Gap; How to Successfully Break into International Markets' opened my eyes to the many international search engines and how Shelly networks to find new clients.
Following this I attended the incomparable Katie Leigh’s session 'It’s Time to Get Animated: The Basics of Voiceover for Cartoons and Video Games'. Katie’s experience and advice concerning Animation auditions were insightful. So many pointers from an industry superstar given with humor, energy and wisdom.
I ended my day with talent agent Vince Lebica from DPN Talent and his interactive session 'How to Secure An Agent with A One Chance Exceptional Read'. It was interesting to see Vince switch from the jovial host when bantering with the audience to laser focus when listening to talent read for him. He made sure that each contributor got his full attention, and his feedback was highly perceptive.
As with many conventions, I was able to make some personal time to meet up with family that I hadn't seen in a while that lived nearby. The conference put on a Friday Night Fiesta with a DJ, bright lights & music videos. I can't confirm how late the party went on, but it was still in full swing when I made my way up the elevator!
Saturday started out slower. I had my own presentation at 11 am and wanted to be fresh and fully prepared but it was nonstop after that. My session – 'The Success Analytics You Actually Need to Pay Attention to as a Voiceover' was broken down into 3 sections. It both reviewed and highlighted what numbers I pay attention to when running my voice-over business. The session was full of lots of interaction and interested attendees. I’m grateful for everyone's participation and questions. And I was delighted to hear later, that 2 attendees felt it was one of their favorite sessions.
After lunch, I attended 'Video Games: What You’re Doing Wrong (or right) and How to Book More of Them' with Randall Ryan. I had attended a session with him previously online at VO Atlanta but Randall is such a good speaker with so much to give, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Then came a mostly virtual speaker session of TTS/AI Panel: Peeking Behind the Curtain of the VO Industry’s Future. (Rob Sciglimpaglia, Bev Standing, Rupal Patel, Hugh Edwards & Rolf Veldman all contributed to this session). So many VO influencers discussing this important topic that faces the industry today.
My last 2 sessions on Saturday were 'Get Your Voice in The Game' by Julie Shields and 'Building Your Business from Scratch' with Brad Hyland (who by the way won several awards including on Sunday the Inspiration Award). I knew Julie from Faffcon 9 in Charlotte and it was lovely to reconnect, but I only knew Brad by reputation and found him to be a generous giving soul.
The day ended with the excitement of the Awards Gala. During the pre-social, I was honored to have a lovely chat with the keynote speaker, Bill Farmer. A definite highlight of the event meeting such a down-to-earth VO legend. Presenters Melissa Disney & Kay Bess brought an immense amount of energy and entertainment as Gala emcees. Nothing threw them off and they were an amazing double act.
There were 35 awards given out at the ceremony plus all the 'Children's under 18 nominations' received a trophy for participating. Our table 2 was full of nominations and wonderful friendly voice actors (Nikki Zakoc, Stephanie Nemeth-Parker, Kristin Clemmer, Dandrell Scott, Monece Starling ,Jennifer Antkwiak and Peter Ponce,) ! I received 5 nominations and was completely delighted to take home the award of Gaming - Best Performance – Male 2021. It was quite the night! We were encouraged to keep our Thank You's short, which meant I missed out on thanking all the volunteer judges and my mum (who it seems I had promised to mention!)
Sunday there were several more workshops and the closing ceremony. Conferences can be exhausting and this one was no different. So much work was put into and during the event by Gravy for the Brain, the staff, the volunteers the presenters, and all the attendees. Then there is the decompression to make sure the information, networking, nominations, and awards are used to their fullest.
Is it worth the cost and effort? For me, it’s a resounding yes. I worked with 7 great coaches, networked with so many people, and reconnected with many more. I genuinely believe it’s a must-do for all voice artists, both those starting out and those more well-established. The industry is always changing and it’s hard to know everything you need to run a successful VO business. Like most educational processes, it’s motivating and enriching, and I feel like it allows me the best opportunity and tools to follow the path of voice-over success.