Spreading knowledge is my jam on toast


After attending the Vocation Conference this weekend in New York City, I have learned so many things and I thought I’d share with them you. Here are my impressions, tips, thoughts, in no particular order.

  1. As long as technology advances, Talent will continue to be exploited with low-ball wages and crap contracts. It is up to VO Talent to be empowered by refusing work that is not industry standard, and it is up to the VO Talent to stay informed with SAG-AFTRA’s policies on turning non-union to union work.

  2. Companies exploit the fact that VO Talent is not an organized community. But with conferences and local meet-ups that will change. Though, there are clear efforts being made to keep the community educated to where the business of VO is headed, the nature of VO work is solitary yet collaborative when working with sound editors, copywriters, and other actors.

  3. Having a Linkedin page that is optimized can give you a foundation in which to build a career, and using Linkedin to connect to people outside of your current network is a free and easy way to grow your business.

  4. There are certain Pay to Play sites to avoid, and there are ones that are more transparent.

  5. There are highly coveted agents, casting directors, and production house rosters to get onto. Representation helps, but if that is your main goal, then you are narrowing your vision. Diversifying platforms by being on several rosters have made many VO Talent thrive, and being in the union or not is a personal choice.

  6. In order to be competitive, a VO Talent needs to have a pro home studio and live in the major market cities like NY or LA, and be available to come to auditions.

  7. In order to be competitive, a VO Talent needs to be doing 10-30 auditions per day.

  8. A website that incorporates Search Engine Optimization is going to be more competitive.

  9. Networking takes confidence and a willingness to meet people, start new conversations, shake hands and hand out your business cards. (And it was so much fun to just hang out with my peers!)

  10. A two hour break can go by fast.

  11. Taking notes is important, but being present is even more important. Learning names is great, but listening and remembering stories is even better.

  12. The organizers and their helpers are some of the hardest working people at the conference, they deserve much thanks and praise for the work they do to make the conference run smoothly. You don’t have to be a volunteer to help. My theatrical all-hands on deck experience helped me with this: be useful, or get out of the way! And if you lend a hand, you might get a free t-shirt ;)

  13. The panels elevate the craft and business of VO — be a sponge and if you have the opportunity, share something insightful or ask a thoughtful question, but listen first! The people on the panels have been at this for a long time and their advice is invaluable.

  14. It is important to be connected, to know where to find answers, to have the right resources that save you time and money.

  15. No one is competing against each other — our only competition is technology and the rate at which it advances.

VO is a small, yet very diverse community of different professional experiences, personalities, and concentrations. Some people come to VO land via radio, acting, sound engineering, etc. We must honor that each person is on their own trajectory and celebrate their wins. Conferences have a position to shed light to certain problems so that the community can talk about them and we can find solutions together. 

Thank you for letting me be a part of this wonderful, resourceful community. I leave you with this:

We are advocates for the human voice. I like to imagine that even after Earth becomes a wasteland, our human voices will be talking, even if it’s just on devices played by robots. 


Jen OlayaComment