I’ve worked with a number of actors lately that have been asking about their accents.
They are considering working to lose their accent so they can speak in a normal American voice.
They believe it will open casting possibilities and think that currently, it hinders their casting ability. Is this you? Are you in this category? I know this conversation is controversial and the first thing I want to say is that it’s a personal choice on what to do. I’ve heard managers, agents and casting directors with opinions that are all over the map.
If you studied at Julliard as a youth or went through another great arts program, accents and voice were part of your curriculum so you might have a basket of accents in your pocket. Good for you.
But what if you came from another country, have a strong accent, and are an adult in the age range of, say 30 – 75? Do you want to correct that accent? Do you want to invest the time and money to be “normal”? So much of my teaching philosophy is this: Who you are makes you different from all the other actors that look like you. You might want to see your accent as your gift, uniqueness, and specialness. Let’s take a look at Antonio Banderas, Sofía Vergara, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for example. These are three powerful actors with great accents. There is no one like them. It’s hard to compare them to another actor. Their accents are a big part of that.
If you have an accent, what is most important is that your articulation is excellent. You can have a strong accent, but the audience needs to understand every word. That is where you might want to do some voice work.
Keep this in mind, your accent may limit your casting range, but its uniqueness can make you stand out. If you drop your accent, you might have more casting possibilities, but you will also be in a huge pool and could get lost. I don’t think Antonio, Sofia, and Arnold apologize for their accents. For me, it makes them special, unique and memorable.
Actors are always trying to fix what they think is in their way. Accents if mastered correctly, with articulation and strength, can make you one of a kind. And that is what you want to be.