ROMPER REAL TALK: JAM GAMBLE

Our #smashtessfam ·

Jam Gamble has the gift of gab—and she’s on a mission to share that gift with the world.

We sat down with Jam to learn where she gets her confidence, how someone who’s “always on” finds ways to turn off, and all about that time she accidentally landed a TV show.

In five words or less, who is Jam Gamble?

Someone who makes things happen.

What inspired you to start the #SlayTheMic program?

When I started getting booked for speaking engagements, people would come meet me afterward and ask, “How do you do that? You’re electric. How do you just go on stage and make things happen?” And my response would always be, “I don’t know, I just do it.” And I found I kept getting asked over and over again, “How do you do it?” Because it came so naturally to me, I didn’t realize what I was doing was nerve wracking for other people.
One day over our morning cup of coffee, I told my husband, “Since everyone’s always asking me how I do what I do, maybe I should teach people how to do what I do.” And just like that, the Slay the Mic program was born. I didn’t know how I was going to create my program, I just knew I needed to and I believed it would help someone.

Have you always had the gift of the gab and been confident speaking to a room? Or has it been a journey to get where you are today?

I wouldn’t say that I was always confident because when I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble because of how much I talked. For as long as I can remember, I didn’t know when I should talk because I was worried that someone was going to complain.  I definitely had to go on a self-love journey with my voice to help me reconnect with it. This journey helped me learn how to love, trust, and unapologetically use my voice anywhere I go.

What is your favourite topic to speak on? 

I love encouraging everyone to own their voice! Nothing beats getting people excited and helping them change their mindset about speaking. And notice I didn’t say “public speaking”—I hate that term because speaking isn’t only reserved for an audience. It’s about how you speak to yourself as well. 

Because of my background in education, getting the opportunity to speak at schools is really special for me. I didn’t see many speakers who looked like me growing up so now it’s really cool to talk to them about their mental health, how to become an entrepreneur, and what they can do to make their schools more inclusive.

How do you feel when you are sharing your voice with the world? Do you ever get nervous?! 

Of course I get nervous. I’m human! But I feel really, really honoured to be sharing my voice with the world. I feel excited because I know that every time I speak it’s going to help somebody. 

What led you to "accidentally" pitch the idea for A Voice For All (a program that ran on Rogers TV for 6 seasons that promoted disability awareness)? How do you continue to advocate for those living with a disability?

When I graduated from college as a Developmental Services Worker, my mom encouraged me to do things differently, and not to follow the same path as everyone else. A lot of people I graduated with either went into nursing or they went into the school board. I went into the school board, but I decided that my passion for talking about disability awareness and promoting inclusion needed to be heard on a much larger platform. 

When I saw different people from the community going on the local TV station to talk about different topics, I approached them to do an interview during Autism Awareness Month. Before the interview, they prepped me and told me what their area of focus was going to be, and then they pretty much did the total opposite on the show. I remember feeling slightly nervous because they were asking me questions I wasn’t comfortable answering. When the episode aired, I remember thinking that I looked and sounded good, but felt there was so much I didn’t get to say, so I took that as an opportunity to better myself, because I wasn’t comfortable with just settling. I went online, filled out a form and pitched an idea for another topic, specifically how the community can support families who have kids with disabilities. I thought the form I was filling out was to pitch the idea I had and pick whose show I wanted to be on, when, in fact, I was actually pitching a show. Then I had a meeting with a producer and I was basically faking it ‘til I made it. I had no previous experience in TV, broadcast journalism or anything like that. But I saw an opportunity and went with it. I shot a pilot episode and then, long story short, I had my own show for 6 seasons. 

I continue to advocate for folks living with disabilities everywhere—it’s not just what people can see and what they can hear. It’s the conversations I have with friends and family, correcting people when they are mislabeling people or making assumptions, asking questions when I’m working with brands, when I speak at schools and talk to students about what they can do to be inclusive leaders—it’s ingrained in what I do. I don’t really think about it, I just do it.

How do you unwind and recharge when you aren't slaying the mic? 

I like to go long walks with my husband and my dog, Bowzer. It’s a time I leave my phone at home so I can avoid answering emails or planning content. 

Treating myself is also key to recharging. I often go to the mall just to buy candy apples. 

l also like to watch hours of Reels that feature cats and other ridiculous, mindless things to make me laugh. And yes, I’m often eating my candy apples while watching those reels. 

Is there a particular speaker or public personality that inspires you?

I appreciate everyone and anyone who uses their voice positively. I don’t have a particular person that I admire but I do get really excited when I see videos of kids using their voice. 

What crowd are you most excited to speak to as COVID restrictions continue to lift?

My Slay the Mic community! I want to have a massive, in-person reunion so that I can hug and celebrate them IRL! Since my community is literally around the world, I’ll have to host several events just to meet them all.

I’ve formed really special, virtual friendships with these people and I can’t wait to see them in person. My Slay The Mic Community trusted in me and invested in me at a time where there was a lot of uncertainty. I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

What are your top tips for combating nerves before public speaking?

Well, I heard there’s this really cool program that helps you transform your voice into your ultimate superpower.  I think it’s called  “Slay the Mic Program” and cohort 5 is set to launch Winter 2022. It will definitely help you not be nervous! *INSERT BIG GRIN HERE* 

Every time you feel nervous, I want you to ask yourself: “Do I trust my voice? Do I honour my voice? Do I believe in what I have to say?” If you said “yes!” or “kinda!”, you’re ready. Trust me.

I also think it’s necessary to change our mindset about being nervous. First off, it’s totally normal to feel nervous. I’ve been speaking professionally for six years and there are still moments where I feel unsure about my voice and my ability to resonate with my audience, but I remind myself that I trust my voice and I’ll be ok. I also like to say there’s confetti in my belly and that helps me feel more excited and less anxious!

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