Women in Event Production: Jamie Jacobs

Our series on powerhouse women working in event technology continues with Jamie Jacobs, a Video Engineer based in Orlando, Florida. Jamie taught show production and live audio production courses at Full Sail for two years, and now works independently producing corporate, academic, and music shows in the Orlando area. We caught up with her to learn a bit more about her experience.

How did you get started in the industry?

I’ve been playing music my whole life, since I was a little kid. At 17 I taught myself the guitar and started writing songs. It was a natural progression to move into production when I decided to attend Full Sail to become a producer. While in my recording arts degree I met Gregg Mandigo. He took me under his wing in live sound reinforcement and I caught a bug for live events. I’d spend Friday and Saturday nights downtown on Wall Street with him, and Sunday mornings at a church where he was the audio director. My first professionally paid gig while still in college was as a stagehand for Beyoncé with Black Onyx Event Services. Now I specialize in both audio and video disciplines as I’ve expanded my career and knowledge base.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in production?

The obvious stigmas. I’ll still get the “hey honey can I help you lift that?” Mostly it’s a factor of men not taking me seriously. I also look pretty young so people assume I don’t know what I’m doing, but I usually win them over by asking the right questions. Eventually I get the respect I deserve for my experience level. I don’t let those stigmas affect me. When I was starting out, I messaged Sylvia Massey, a well-known audio engineer and asked her advice. She said “Just ignore the stigma and do your job and show that you know what you’re doing.”

How do you think women have an advantage in the technical world?

The fact that we don’t have that typical male bravado. We don’t come in there straight out with an ego like a lot of men do. As women we help each other a lot. We counteract our physical weaknesses in comparison to men by sticking together and working as a team. We see more details than men do sometimes, that comes from a woman’s psyche in general. We tend to clean up those little details, the minute things that most people seem to overlook. We’re more able to talk to clients and convey what they’re trying to do through our technical skills.

What is your favorite tech tool?

For video, measuring tapes, laser distance measuring tools, and a multi-tool are my ultimate go-to’s.  I also rely on vector scopes and waveform monitors. We don’t always get chroma charts on show site, but it’s a treat when we do. And for audio, I like to use Tweaker, Q-box, adapters, and headphones.

What advice can you give to young women who would like to begin a career in production?

Ignore the stigmas, put your pants on one leg at a time like everyone else and do your job to the best of your ability. Know what you’re worth. Ask questions when you’re unsure of something you’re doing. Work safely. Walk with purpose, and hustle! Don’t try to lift anything more than you’re capable of just to prove something to the men around you, and always lift with your legs!

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Heidi Brumbach