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Celebrating Women in Film, TV, and Advertising: Karol Urban, CAS, MPSE

Olivia Broadley
Mar 13, 2024
5 min read

In our International Women’s Day series, Sohonet explores the journeys of prominent women in our industry. This time, we had the pleasure of speaking with top Re-recording Mixer and Sound Supervisor, Karol Urban CAS, MPSE, NATAS. Karol has served directors and producers as a re-recording mixer for television and feature films since 1999. Focusing principally on documentaries early in her career, she currently mixes various genres of content, embracing each new challenge. Some of her credits include She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, For All Mankind, National Treasure: Edge of History, Stephen King’s The Stand, Loki, Echo, and Tiny Beautiful Things. She describes her job as "playing mind games with sound."

She is an involved member of her community, having served on the Television Academy's Governor's Peer Group for Sound Mixing, organized for The LA Sound Group, and served as a blue-ribbon panel judge for the Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reels. Karol acted as content editor of the CAS Quarterly for eight years, served as a board member for the Cinema Audio Society, and was president of the organisation from 2019 to 2023. She enjoys educational outreach and has moderated and appeared on panels for Mix's Sound for Film Event, EIPMA, MPSE, Soundgirls, and AMPAS.

Karol, What inspired you to pursue your craft?

K: I was born with a muscular deformity in my eyes that, until having surgery at a young age, caused me to lean on my sense of hearing a bit more than most as a principal way of experiencing the world. As a result, I am absorbed by environmental sounds and consciously observe the effect of natural acoustics on the voice. Additionally, I am very curious and social, with a huge love of human expression. The "lens" or "language" through which an individual views or interprets a situation potentially provides a singular event with limitless storytelling possibilities.  

This combination of fascinations (sound and human experience) drives a huge love of the arts, including television and cinema. As soon as I realized I could combine this with a natural aptitude for science and craft, I was determined to be a sonic storyteller.

What's the most unexpected lesson you've learned from a failure or setback in your career?

K: There is no defined path to reaching your goals. No "correct" school, age, identity, or professional path exists to any goal. If I accepted that there was some mythical "right path," then I would have to accept that I may not have the power or opportunity to reach my goals or manifest my dreams because many of those avenues were not available. Established, well-worn industry “paths" certainly exist but are not the only manner to achieve a goal. I don't seek to sidestep hard work… I love the work. But I choose this career and forge onward following my own path.

Do not accept that you are out of the game if you don't know a particular person or don't have the expected background or assumed resources. Your journey is personal and unique.

What advice would you give a young woman starting in the industry?

K: Treat others with humanity and grace.  All should practice this. But as an underrepresented demographic in our field, this approach is especially powerful. By approaching our co-workers, clients, and friends with grace and generosity, we have a greater chance of opening hearts that are closed to us as a demographic.

Be the change you wish to see in the world by focusing on attaining a level of skill that cannot be ignored. But be humble and respect the brilliance and contribution of those around you…in all positions, from your support staff to the person who signs your checks. Seek to be a true contributor and teammate, not a star. Treat everyone how you wish to be treated, regardless of race, gender, creed, or social status. Create the world you desire, beginning with yourself.

What do you think are the most significant barriers for women in our industry, and how can we work together to overcome them?

K: Many insidious socially endorsed behaviors are subconscious and learned. Often, they are not practiced with the intent to be hurtful or restrictive, but they still exist culturally. Their thoughtless repetition can result in closed social networks and exclusive business opportunities offering slights to one demographic or another.

Social bias is something we all possess without exception. Seek to be open to recognizing and changing your own social biases and generously offering this gift of your perspective to others through fellowship and example.

The formal struggles of gender affecting our time…the reduction of the pay gap, the problem of underrepresentation, the struggle to dismantle gender stereotypes to familial obligations and abilities, etc.…are all progressed by the example of functioning professionals of all demographics who challenge cultural norms with their very existence.

We need a cultural shift. We can all be part of this movement by simply living mindfully and open to the experiences of others.

If you could give your younger self one piece of career advice, what would it be?’

K: Enjoy every step along the way and celebrate your successes. That is the joy. You may hit a wall, but you made it to that wall. Congratulations! The wall is now your next challenge—over, under, around, or through. There is no end-goal or final challenge to anticipate in an adventure. Goals and challenges continue until the adventure comes to an end.

Can you share a book or podcast that has had a significant impact on your professional growth or mindset?

A mentor in original content acquisition introduced me to Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." It's cliche, I know…but my takeaway was that we should seek to listen to what our clients need and then look to assist in a solution rather than indiscriminately push what we individually have to offer or need to sell. This approach establishes us as a dependable resource and advocate for our client's goals, garnering loyalty and…ultimately... their business. I know this is a mindset I value on my team.

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