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  • Writer's pictureKara Lea

Thinking Outside the Booth

I’ve had this article brewing in my mind for several weeks now. We moved to Atlanta a little over one year ago. It was our first time being “on our own,” having just retired from the Air Force. It was suddenly our responsibility to choose a home base, which is much harder to do than just obeying orders. It was an agonizing move. We chose Atlanta primarily for my career as an actor and voiceover artist. Beyond that, though, we knew very little of the area, and I had no real connections here.

Knowing my ultimate goal is to develop as a performer, I immediately set to work…making friends.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, I knew that I needed a community before I needed a career. That is how life is engineered from the beginning. Ideally, we spend our years of childhood developing relationships, finding out who is there for us, where our help comes from, what a family should look like. I was in a new town with my four sweet children while my husband was busy training and providing for us. I have lived enough life to know that sometimes emergencies come up, that being alone is not good for anyone, that being able to borrow a stick of butter can save my sanity, that a simple “how are you?” text can bring tears to my eyes, even if things are going great!

So, my first job as a voice artist? Find a church.

Then join a small group and get people’s phone numbers.

Approach random lady in an antique store and say, with painful authenticity, “Hi, I just moved here and I don’t have any friends!” Tear up when her immediate response is, “Do you need my number?! Let’s meet up sometime this week!”

Volunteer in the church once a week, and connect with other people on a common mission.

Get headshots done.

Audit an acting class.

Join a club with my kids. Tell them, “We are doing this because we need friends. Good friends are very important.”

Go to every school event I can, find the parents of my children’s friends. Get phone numbers.

Basically, become a phone number junkie.

Build a recording studio.

Set up lunch dates.

Start regularly auditioning for voiceover jobs.

Approach a door greeter at an event to make small talk. Find out she moved from the same town in South Carolina. Maybe cry a little.

Record an audiobook.

Ask a neighbor for a favor. Find out you also have things you can offer their family. See the value of reciprocal relationships.

Refresh LinkedIn page.

Tell the neighbor boy he can fish in my pond anytime. Notice his barefoot footprint in the mud one day. Smile to myself.

Start working on a blog.

Work to make my home beautiful, inside and out, so people will feel refreshed when they visit.

Cry at my daughter’s end-of-year band concert because it was so beautifully done and at the beginning of the year she couldn’t play a note.

Volunteer some more. Find out that another volunteer is a VO artist. Perfect.

Meet up with one of my brother’s coworkers who recently moved here to pursue acting. Take her to Trilith Studios on a rainy day. Enjoy her encouragement.

Teach kids how to frame a slate shot.

Record a dumb video when I’m too sick to do much else, write when I have a cold, refresh my website when jobs and auditions are slow.

Connect with people on LinkedIn.

Become so familiar with my surroundings that when I hear a car horn, I look to see which of my friends is nearby, saying hello. It actually was not a friend. But the sweetness of that first thought that went through my mind did make me giggle with gratitude.

Isn’t this all beautiful? We have been abundantly blessed. In a little over one year, I feel more surrounded by a loving community than I did in all our other homes. I am rapidly being surrounded and built up by a tribe.

It strikes me that so many auditions today are asking for the voice actor to have a “conversational” tone. It’s almost like they want to know that I am capable of having a genuine conversation with another human. Like I’m a “real person.” How can I get that without community? Sitting in a sound booth, no matter how professional, will not teach me how to reach an audience.

I think I’ll keep meeting people.

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