Never assume that you know who or what the instrument of change will be. Consider Juliana Henao Mesa, a former singer turned professional specializing in sound within the TV and film industry. This Bogotá Colombia native found that her skills were greatly appreciated among those working on some of the most popular shows in the US and well beyond; she also found inspiration to create her own productions which illuminated the achievements and challenges of other women in the industry, prompting her to take the helm as a filmmaker herself. Ms. Henao has proven that her experiences within the industry have made her the ideal person to convey the contributions of women like herself who have been an essential part of the sounds that are a part of great filmmaking. Wisdom, talent, creativity, and inspiration are evident throughout Juliana’s impressive body of work and stand as a testament to her renown throughout the TV and film community.
With roles that range from recording engineer to sound editor to dubbing mixer and a variety of roles throughout the audio department of companies like NYAV, Gypsy Sound and Pixelogic, Ms. Henao Mesa has been an essential part of the sonic identity for a copious amount of celebrated productions. Essentially focusing on what she describes as post production sound quality control, Juliana has worked on a number of Apple TV+ series including Ted Lasso (winner of seven Primetime Emmys), The Morning Show (also a Primetime Emmy Winner), Mosquito Coast (Imagen Award Nominee), and Star Wars: The Bad Batch. With NYAV (known for such Academy Award Nominated Animated films as Miria, A Cat in Paris, and Ernest & Celestine) Juliana’s work as a recording engineer and editor for numerous Anime series feature on the leading Anime service Funimation has widened NYAV’s reputation in this uber popular animated genre. Without uttering a word or appearing on camera even once, she has become known amongst her peers and collaborators as one of the most talented in her field.
The recognition she amassed within the industry led Juliana to question, “What about those who came before me and why don’t I know more about them?” Asking these things led to illuminating the answers for other in Juliana Henao Mesa’s producing and directorial debut film Listen To Us. This documentary attempts to understand the contributions of women in sound in the American film industry and explores their underrepresentation. Screened at numerous festivals including the Thomas Edison Film Festival, Athens International Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, and others, Listen to Us features interview with Academy Award Winner Cecelia Hall Academy Award nominated Anna Behlmer, Emmy Award Winner Paula Fairfield, and many other female professionals who hold prominent positions in the community. Juliana notes, “Meeting these talented women and hearing their stories was incredibly rewarding. Getting to go to Skywalker Sound, Paramount, Warner Brothers, and more to meet my heroes who have done the sound for Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Avengers and other shows and films I love and admire was the most fulfilling thing. Paula Fairfield (Game of Thrones sound designer) told me she felt the responsibility of speaking up and help tear down walls because of the position she is in and it’s so inspiring to hear that, and to be able to see how women fought for each other and want things to be better.” The impact of Listen To Us was widely felt, leading to an invitation for Ms. Henao Mesa to appear on the popular Tonebenders podcast and share her experience along with snippets of the film. Listen To Us was awarded the MPSE Golden Reel Awards 2020 in the category Verna Field Awards.
Most recently, William McGuigan (nominated for Best Editing by the Motion Picture Sound Editors USA for his work on Chef’s Table) has enlisted Juliana to work with him at the post-house studio Gypsy Sound as a dialogue and sound editor. In addition to her contributions on popular series including Street Food and Chef’s Table, Ms. Henao Mesa is working as the dialogue editor on an upcoming documentary series about legendary NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.
Writer: Winston King