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Whidbey's Amy Walker takes the world by storm. Again.
Amy Walker’s first YouTube video, “21 Accents,” now has 6.9 million views.
She’s turned a few heads because of it and now the Clinton native is spreading her ideas about identity for TEDx.
“Hello. I’m Amy Walker and I’m an actor, a singer, a writer, a director, a producer and an entrepreneur,” says the artist in the opening line of her talk, “Expanding Your Identify to Embody Your Potential.”
Walker was invited to co-host the TED offshoot series that was filmed in Phoenixville, Penn. this past September.
Created in the spirit of TED’s mission of “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.
Using her graceful dialect-switching shenanigans, Walker presented her talk in three parts: “Defining Your Identity,” “Expanding Your Identity” and “Embodying Your Potential.”
Walker was approached by Todd Palmer of the Phoenixville crew to present an 18-minute talk at the “MindBlender” conference that focused on thoughts and how the mind works.
“As someone who entertains with their mind, you would be a welcome addition to our program,” Palmer told her.
“I loved that — ‘entertains with their mind,’” Walker recalled.
Walker has been as surprised as anyone else by the power of YouTube and how it changed the course of her career.
Asked about where the “21 Accents” video has led her, including being interviewed on the “Today Show,” National Public Radio, “Inside Edition” and creating the “Amy Walker, A Discourse on Accents” recording with Jack White, and this most recent coup of becoming a host of a TEDx conference, Walker said she could never have imagined such a turn of events in her life.
She was compelled to delve deep and she gave a lot of thought about what mattered to her.
“I’ve always had deep respect for inspirational speakers, and I think a part of me longed to be able to give the gift of empowering others to live their true potential, but I didn’t think a person could be more than one thing, and I wanted to be an actor,” she said.
When thinking about the idea of identity and what she would talk about, Walker realized she had a major shift in perspective somewhere in the course of all that’s happened.
Identity, she said, turns out to be malleable.
“It’s something you create; that fluctuates based on your current context and desires and whom you’re communicating with,” Walker explained.
That discovery has had a direct effect on how she looks at the road in front of her.
“It used to feel like I was hurriedly laying down track before a train that I was also building and shoveling coal into,” she said.
“Somewhere along the way it started to feel like ‘Two roads diverged in the wood and I …
I built a spaceship and flew to the sky,” she said with a laugh.
Figuring out your place in the world gets scary at times, she said. There are certain leaps of faith required.
“I’ve had to abandon the relative comfort of who I think I am for the possibility of whom I may become,” she said, a sentiment that turns up in the second part of her talk.
But the main discovery it seems is that nothing is set in stone.
“Honestly, I have no idea any more. I feel that it’s beyond my limited ability to imagine who and what I’m becoming in relation to this rapidly evolving world — and I have a pretty expansive imagination. But I get glimpses.”
One glimpse came while she was in the backstage rush of the historic Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, where the talk was filmed in front of a live audience.
“The backstage of that theatre is hilarious,” Walker said.
“It’s like walking into a fun house, where floor and walls and ceiling don’t quite make logical sense in terms of level, size, ratio.
I loved it.”
She was nervous, but she managed to steal away to rehearse during the four days she was there.
“I arrived on Wednesday night and worked Thursday and Friday, mostly as a host welcoming people, working out tech stuff with the staff, writing and working out details with the amazing event coordinator, Kirsten Van Vlandren, and my co-host Cliff Hillis. I’d work on my pieces during breaks and at night, till two or three in the morning.”
Watching Walker online it’s clear the shoot was a success. She’s looking elegant and relaxed, and eloquently conveys the sincerity of her message.
In part two, “Expanding Your Identity,” after relaying an incident of discovering a modicum of confidence in her 14-year-old self, she sees the possibility that she could actually grow, morph into and become a person who is not just a shy, awkward teen.
“As a wise fish once said, ‘Just keep swimming,’” Walker tells the delighted audience.
Although it wasn’t broadcast live, she knew it was a one-time shot and the performance would live forever online. The audience, as it turns out, loved her, which is clear from its responsiveness on the recording.
What’s next for Walker?
Well, besides taking her own advice and expanding her potential by creating the ConnectedFilm Project (check it out at www.connectedfilm.com), Walker is happy with her spaceship to take her on the next flight of her career.
“It’ll probably include some conglomeration of many expressions, many ‘hats,’ or ‘careers’ or ‘lives.’ It’s already that way, but it keeps growing,” she said.
Walker said she has no desire to be famous, and that she’s actually a shy person who would rather help people fuel their own fires.
“I believe in the importance of each person’s unique gifts in the world,” Walker said.
“More than anything, I love to see others shine.”
Watch Walker’s TEDx talk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw-w7SzdyXo
Visit Walker’s website at www.amywalkeronline.com and find out more.