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2016 Voice Arts Awards: A Night to Remember

As my wife and I stood in line at Warner Bros. Studios, I couldn’t help but think of all the film history that took place at this exact spot. Almost 100 years of history, in fact! After checking in (and going through security) at the gate, we boarded a designated golf cart and began our short journey through a valley of various sound stages. The place is literally like its own little city. A firehouse here, a workout facility there…each branded with the telltale “WB” we all have seen so many times on the big screen.

Once we pulled up to the famous Steven J. Ross Theater, we knew it was going to be an extraordinary evening. A long, wide, scarlet red carpet covered the sidewalk, bright studio lights contrasting the darkness of the evening, a line of press photographers snapping photos in quick succession, hundreds of people milling about the courtyard, laughter and anticipatory remarks regarding the awards ceremony filling the air.

My wife and I enjoyed some delicious appetizers, took a few pictures, obtained a brief interview with a representative from Ovation TV, and then quickly made our way into the theater to get a good seat before the ceremony began. Sure enough, we found an excellent vantage point about 6 rows back from the stage.

When the awards ceremony began, you could sense everyone’s hopeful expectations – enthusiastic exclamations, vigorous applause, and hopeful (yet nervous) smiles. Every time a new list of nominees for a particular category was announced, there was a palpable silence that fell over the crowd as we all waited for the winner to be announced via the ever-so-secretly sealed envelopes held by the presenters.

I won’t go into the full details of the event, but I wanted to share a little bit about the special icon award that was given out to Mr. Michael Buffer. Recognize the name? Possibly not. Recognize the voice? Absolutely. “Let’s get ready to rumblllllllllllllllllllllle!!!” The most famous ring announcer for boxing of all time, the man is a true legend. And his story was truly remarkable! When he first gave ring announcing a try, it was a disaster. He wasn’t dynamic, he was nervous, and he was stumbling over his words. The people that hired him thought they’d made a big mistake and considered firing him after his first night. However, they decided to give him a few more chances. Sure enough, he found his niche, developed his style, gained a healthy amount of confidence, and became the best announcer for the sport of boxing this world has ever seen. An inspiring story, to say the very least.

When we won our first award (that’s right – we won more than one!) for Outstanding Spoken Word/Storytelling, I had the wonderful opportunity to represent Executive Producer Bill Heid and Heirloom Audio Productions by giving a short acceptance speech. I was excited to share the mission behind our audio adventures – to make history come alive for a generation that thinks history is much too boring. History should never be boring. After all, it’s a collection of some of the greatest stories of all time! However, if we present it in a boring way, it will naturally be perceived as a boring subject.

By the end of the evening, we (Heirloom Audio Productions) had won three awards in the following categories:

  • Outstanding Spoken Word/Storytelling
  • Audio Engineering
  • Outstanding Production, Audiobook

We couldn’t be more thrilled. To be included among nominees like Disney and Pixar is an honor in and of itself! The competition was stiff (double the amount of submissions from last year!) and yet we were able to pull through with a few wins.

A big thanks to Rudy Gaskins and Joan Baker (the founders of the Voice Arts Awards) – they are doing a marvelous job of elevating the importance of voice arts to the masses and equipping aspiring voice actors to pursue their careers passionately and more effectively. Rudy and Joan, please keep up the great work! We are very appreciative of your efforts.

And now…back to my lengthy narrative.

After the awards ceremony, my wife and I made our way out of the theater and headed for the red carpet to snap a few pictures before driving back to our hotel where my mother was watching our two kids for us (thanks mom!). Since that night, my wife and I have looked at each other on more than one occasion and said, “Wow, can you believe we did that!?” Needless to say, we’ll remember and cherish this memory for years to come, as it truly was…a night to remember.




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