Feels like the first time

Wow. What can I even say about VO Atlanta? 

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I hadn't thought about going this year. I was all set to do that another time. When I was ready. When I had more experience. 

Yeah...I've said that before. 

But the time to do things is before you're ready. Jump and the net will appear and all that jazz. 

About a month before the conference, I just decided "I NEED to go." The feeling was strong. Gut instinct. I knew if I didn't go, I would regret it. It was that "destiny calling" kind of feeling. What awaited? Love? Fortune? Fame? Doesn't matter...I was being called. As an actor, you learn to listen to even the smallest internal impulses. So, when you get an impulse THAT strong, you listen. 

 Sky's the limit, baby! (The view from the conference hotel)

Sky's the limit, baby! (The view from the conference hotel)

My brain is still struggling to process everything I saw, learned, and experienced last week. I'm still a bit sleep deprived, and since last week, my brain feels a bit like someone put it in the blender on high. I can't organize my thoughts very well. I frequently can't form a complete sentence. Hopefully this side effect will go away eventually. They didn't warn me about that.  

 The chaos within my brain made manifest in the physical world (aka "unpacking")

The chaos within my brain made manifest in the physical world (aka "unpacking")

Thoughts: Know your worth. Don't hand out business cards. Until everyone else does, then do it anyway, because you realize if you don't get their card, you probably won't remember them later.   It's hard to remember everyone's names, but here are a few: Galena, Alex Herring, Alex Rain, Tracey Thibodeau, Christian, Bridget Reale, Pavi Lustig, Jerome, Javier, Jamie, Ally, Harry, Andrew, Marc, Nina, Ben...there are so many more. 700+ people, and I tried to meet as many as I could, but you can only talk to so many people in a day before you go crazy. I didn't sleep much. I just wanted to experience everything. And talk to everyone. Davis. Rona. Martha. Steven. Kyle. Two guys named Stefan. One STEFF-in, and the other Stef-AHN. One is a flight attendant and VO Artist. One is a French guy who sounds British and dresses to the nines. Most of my favorite people I met were not from the U.S. The Mexican crew treated me like familia. I loved the British, German and French people I met. They were all very fun. Uninhibited on the dance floor too. We danced A LOT. 

I learned a little bit about editing (Uncle Roy is pretty much the best). I learned I really want to do documentary and TV narration (thanks to Tom Pinto's X-Session). And I learned to trust my instincts as well. I heard so much contradictory advice. So much of it comes down to one person's opinion. So...I guess, if you're approaching an agent, then YES, do it how they want you to do it. If you're working with someone and they have a preference, SURE. But just because one person has their opinion about something doesn't make them right or mean there's only one way to do something or mean you don't have talent and you shouldn't keep learning. Take everything, good and bad, with a grain of salt and KEEP WORKING! 

 I learned about some really really cool new tools that are going to help me immensely in the near future as I set forward on the new adventure of self-marketing and rate negotiation (SHUDDER), even if I'm still intimidated by the idea of those things. Found out Radio Imaging probably isn't for me, and haven't even bothered dipping my toes in the water of animation yet, because I don't live in LA or NYC, and because that's the "really competitive part" of this industry. That's just my internal censor talking. I definitely want to do animation. Who doesn't?

Kay Bess is amazingly honest about her background. I need to update my LinkedIn...again. I need to finish reading Celia's book. Elaine Clark, Jeffrey Umberger and Tim Walsh were all very funny. Mike Cooper DiFrancia and Sophia Cruz were passionate and inspiring. I drank too much water. Or maybe just the right amount. As a result, I met a lot of people in bathrooms. Learned about products for curly hair from a few women in the ladies room. Also: Bathroom jazz. That's a thing now. Took in the sun. Watched the planes. Enjoyed everything being in bloom. Sang karaoke. Talked until WAY past a reasonable bed time. Met innumerable people on the shuttle. Waiting for the shuttle. Got to spend time with my fellow Minnesotans away from MN. Hot tubbing. Watching the Oscars. Spider Man. Bourbon. More people. More late nights. It's all one big happy, yet overwhelming blur. 

 My friend and conference roomie Michael Schwengel and I, and our new friend Davis Haines

My friend and conference roomie Michael Schwengel and I, and our new friend Davis Haines

 Alex Rain and I strike a pose at the 70s dance night

Alex Rain and I strike a pose at the 70s dance night

 Galena White, possibly the smiliest person I met, and Uncle Roy who spreads joy and bagels everywhere he goes

Galena White, possibly the smiliest person I met, and Uncle Roy who spreads joy and bagels everywhere he goes

 Me, Andrew Bates, Spidey, and Uncle Roy...conference stragglers, enjoying one last hurrah at the hotel bar...

Me, Andrew Bates, Spidey, and Uncle Roy...conference stragglers, enjoying one last hurrah at the hotel bar...

It will be months, possibly years, before I know how VOA has impacted my life. 

Sometimes, I look back at things I've done in the past, and I can connect the dots. I can see that doing that reading for so-and-so led to getting cast in this project over here, and then that thing, and then this other. I can see how something seemingly insignificant, saying yes to a particular opportunity that didn't seem especially mind-blowing, has taken me down a particular path and changed my life greatly. 

Right now, the past week at VO Atlanta...all these facts, all these new pieces of information, all of these events, and all of these wonderful people I met...are just pinpoints of light on an inky black sky. They are just stars waiting for the constellation to be drawn in. And it's going to take a while before I can look back to see what the picture is. 

Whatever it is, I have a feeling it's going to be beautiful. 

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