We had the good fortune of connecting with Juliana Henao and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Juliana, how do you think about risk?
The risks I have taken the last years have defined my life. I studied music, was working as a teacher, and randomly ended up learning about sound design. I fell in love with the sound world, and I went out of my comfort zone and decided to move to the United States to get an MFA in sound design. I knew what I wanted, do sound for film and tv, and I decided to pursue my dream without looking back. I started my new life here, and this journey led me to another journey, a very unexpected one. A project where I would become a director and producer. As a woman, and a sound designer, I have always been interested in finding role models, women in the industry. I discovered there are very few women who do sound, so I wanted to know who they were, what they did, and learn from them. While I was in this quest my thesis project started and somehow my advisor suggested me to make a documentary about women in sound. This sounded crazy… me? A sound designer? How was I going to make a film if I didn’t even know the basic things of directing? How was I going to get real women working in the industry to talk to me and be part of the project? It all seemed impossible. But I thought to myself, why not? Why not take a risk? What’s there to lose? And this is how my next journey started, with only an idea. To make this challenge a reality I found a film student to help me with all the film parts, and I started contacting woman. It was a very long shot, because I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have a direct contact to them. But I told them about the project, and I asked if they wanted to be part of it, and magically they started saying yes. I was so excited, and this showed me I could do this, even if it sounded crazy and seemed impossible, I could make it work. So, after getting enough women to make several interviews I started a crowdfunding campaign to get the funds needed to pay for the trip expenses. The campaign got funded 112% and I was able to go to California and interviewed 16 women who have won Academy and Emmy Awards. Who work in films and tv shows I admire like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Grey’s Anatomy, and many more. All of this showed me risks are worth taking, even when they seem scary or impossible to accomplish. Taking risks allowed me to find new paths in life I would have never imagined for myself. The risks I have taken have definitely changed my life for good, and they have showed me I can do more than just sound or music, I can tell stories, and give a voice to people who need it. More importantly taking risks has showed me a lot of things are possible if you work towards them.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an artist with a broad background. My artistic life started when I was 3 years old. I entered a musical academy and since then the only thing I could think about was being a singer. All my life was directed towards that goal, and I dreamt and worked towards it every day. I took piano, guitar, singing lessons and was part of a choir. When I finish high school, I knew I wanted to pursue music as a career, so I studied music production to be able to record my own music. I recorded my first album and I thought I was going to be successful after releasing it, but things didn’t go the way I planned. I was doing well, but success and recognition weren’t coming as fast as I needed them to. I realized having a soloist career is very hard, challenging, and takes time, and I realized the timeline I set for myself wasn’t going to be accomplished. It was hard, but I kept releasing music, doing concerts, visiting radios and different media to work towards my goal. While doing this I was teaching music. One day I got a job offer to teach music production. Except it was actually sound design. I had no idea what foley or ADR were, but I already had the job and had to do it. So, I started researching and learning on my own, and in the process, I fell in love with this world. I have always been a film and tv show lover. I watch so many tv shows I have post-its in my computer to remember in what episode I am because it’s hard to keep track of 25 different shows at the same time. Learning about sound I realized I love this world. I understood sound and music go together, they fit, and suddenly it made sense to me why I love this universe so much. My love for it was so big I decided to change my plans and start a new career. It wasn’t easy, but I knew what I wanted to do, so I moved to the US to get an MFA in sound design. Doing it I ended up making a documentary about women in sound. And I realized I love telling stories, I wanted to be a singer because I love to write stories, and as a music lover I love connecting to other artists stories. As a filmmaker I can tell stories that are longer than 3 minutes, and it doesn’t have to be about my story, it can be the story of other people, people who need a voice, and this is what excites me more about my art. I never thought or dream of being a filmmaker, but I learned life sometimes may have different plans for you. Now, I can’t wait to keep telling stories, helping people have a voice, help them be seen, and hopefully change the world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As an international person my favorite spots in Los Angeles are the most touristic places. Santa Monica pier is a beautiful place to spend you afternoon and hopefully see an astonishing sunset. The Griffith Observatory is a beautiful place to see the views of the city. To get wonderful pictures and see how big and vast LA is. Why not take the Warner Bros tour, visit the studios and learn more about how the magic of making films happen. Go visit Soda Pop store and fall in love with all the different sodas they have from around the world. Eat a delicious burger at In-N-Out. Get lost at The Last Bookstore reading all the amazing books you can find there. And visit Grand Central Market with your friends, grab some beers and eat delicious food.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank and recognize all the women who have worked doing sound and are doing sound, paving the way for more women in the world.