I recently attended VO Atlanta 2023 – the largest voiceover conference in the world. It was my first in-person VO Atlanta, having previously participated in the virtual edition in 2020.
It was an extra special one this year, not only for me, but it was also the 10th anniversary edition and also the first year run by its new owners, Anna Collins and J. Michael Collins.
Real Life – Real VO People
There are so many voice over friends and colleagues whom I’ve met and developed relationships with online, but nothing beats meeting these folks in real life! It was so great to finally meet J. Michael, who was also my demo producer and one of my coaches. I also got to finally meet Brad Hyland in person, who was also one of my fantastic coaches and is a mentor.
I also finally got to meet some members of my accountability group in person! It was so amazing to be able to sit down and chat with them in real life!
As well, I’m part of Paul Schmidt’s VO Freedom Master Plan group. Paul hosts weekly online meetings with those in his group, and at VO Altanta, he organized a get-together for us. We got to discuss VO life, business strategies relating to the VO Freedom Master Plan and simply got to learn more about each other.
If you love networking and meeting new people, as I do, VO Atlanta was definitely the place to be. With about 1000 people at the event, there were certainly many people to meet and chat with. I met so many lovely people from around the world! Also, where else are you going to find such an amazing menagerie of VO talent (veterans and newcomers), agents, managers, casting directors, coaches and industry partners?
At times, I chose not to go into the sessions, but to hang out and to chat with folks in the hallways. Knowing that we would have all the recorded sessions available to us afterward allowed me to feel more relaxed about not having to catch all of it then and there.
Fun and More Fun
The Great Bagel Challenge between New Jersey (Uncle Roy) and Montreal (me) also took place. Uncle Roy has a tradition of bringing New Jersey bagels to voiceover conferences, and I joined him by bringing Montreal bagels when we were at the last V.O. North conference. I call it The Great Bagel Challenge because we both enjoy teasing each other about which city has the best bagels.
There were also a lot of VO folks busy with fun content creation. For example, we had Cherie B. Tay making fun videos for her TikTok and Instagram accounts, and I had a lot of fun participating in one of them. Rhonda Phillips, webinar host of Late Night Secrets with Rhonda, was really busy documenting the event and created some great content that she shared over her socials.
The evenings did not disappoint, with karaoke, dancing and other fun activities. Thanks to DJ Sam Beman for mixing those sweet tunes!
The Fabulous Get Mic’d! team hosted the Ultimate VO Survivor Grand Finale, with the super talented Tim Heller taking home the honor of being the Ultimate VO Survivor!
There was a script reading workshop with producers at Pandora/SiriusXM, where voice actors had the opportunity to read for them in both English and/or Spanish.
And if all of the above wasn’t enough for you, attendees had the chance to participate in The Team Challenge, hosted by Dan Friedman. There were randomly assigned teams and they had a certain amount of time to write, voice and produce a real commercial. The client (a real organization) chose the winning team and used their commercial spot to air.
The sheer number of sessions for pretty much all genres of VO was unbelievable. I was blown away by the quality of these sessions and of the speakers/presenters. There was something for everyone, from beginners to veterans.
It was obviously impossible to catch all of the sessions, so it is really great that we can now watch all of the replays in the comfort of our homes.
The X-Sessions were equally as impressive. Personally, I attended two X-Sessions: one with talent agent, Lau Lapides, and the other with casting director, Terry Berland. They both shared golden nuggets of information and tips to improve our self-direction and so much more.
Children in Voiceover
Headed up by Martha Kahn, the two-day Children’s program was a mini-conference on its own. There were sessions geared both to complete newcomers and also to children with experience. There were also some sessions for parents to learn more about the industry.
From the opening video beautifully voiced by Brigid Real to the sneak peak of The Comet Casino’s animatic pilot by the talented Miranda Parkin, Scott Parkin and Ed Yeager, there were special surprises throughout the conference.
Inspiration and Generosity
This year’s Keynote Speaker was Debra Wilson, who spoke to us with passion and inspiration about how we need to share our authentic selves with the world and so much more.
The 2023 Unicorn Award was presented to Jeff Gelder, who is the founder of a charity called Children’s Holiday Magic Project. Jeff’s wonderful project helps bring joy and entertainment to hospitalized children during the holiday season through recorded stories and music. The Unicorn Award celebrates giving back without the expectation of profit or publicity.
Finally – the giveaways. It was like Christmas, combined with one of Oprah Winfrey’s giveaway shows. The prizes and gifts just kept on coming. The generosity of the VO community is mind-blowing.
A Touch of Class – Here, There, Everywhere
There was even Champagne. Oh yes! JMC Demos hosted a Champagne hour (or however long the Champagne lasted) for all attendees.
The event was beautifully organized, from A to Z. Thank you, Anna, J. Michael and the whole VO Atlanta Team! A big shout out to Scott Chambers and AJ McKay as the fantastic Emcee duo! Bravo to Uncle Roy Yokelson and his tech team! A million thanks go out to the numerous volunteers who helped make the event a huge success!
Can’t wait for next year’s event! See y’all in Atlanta!