Acting Advice

Ask Me!: Accents Part 2

Anonymous asked
I have a light accent (Russian mostly but grew up in Israel), so I feel like until I nail an American accent, there is no point in going auditioning for things. Right or wrong? I’ve been told that I should. Also, any recommendations on cost-efficient accent reduction coaches? Does it take a while?

Hello again,

Firstly, I would say you should do what you can to tap into the voiceover market. There are always castings for people with accents and other languages and you could be working, albeit occasionally, in that field right now. To get started, I suggest you spend $200 or so and pull together two 1-and-a-half minute demos of your voice focusing one on the Russian side of your accent and the other on the Israeli. Take a listen to commercials on TV/radio and to narrations for movies and such and think about what products your vocal tone would be well suited to. For me, it was car commercials, lingerie and quirky/funny ads. Then write down the copy (script) of your chosen 3 or 4 pieces, work on them on your own, consider what music/sounds you’ll need (anyone who works in audio will have a library of music so knowing what you want will expedite things saving you money) and go record that demo. When it’s done, ask around in your community of actors, teachers, casting directors, producers ANYone in the industry and see if you can get a recommendation to an agent. If you can, send them a personalized cover-letter with a demo and let them know you are ready to work. If not don’t fret. Send a demo to the VO agents that allow submissions, mark your envelope “Foreign Voice Talent” or something akin and be patient. You should also have a website or somewhere online that you can post the demo to for easy access.

That’s somewhere to start.

Next, you have to be extra diligent and scour the varying actor-casting resources for jobs you can do in your native tongue and/or with your accents (do what you can to separate the Israeli from the Russian – it will give you more opportunities).

I worked with a coach in school called Leigh Dillon. I don’t know if she still teaches or where, but she could be a start. But, I work on my accent every day at home by listening to TV, movies, etc and copying what I hear like a parrot. Get a voice recorder on your phone and listen to yourself and work on the weak spots. Ask friends to challenge you. Read blocks of the newspaper out loud to them with an American accent and have them correct you. I have a list of tongue-twisters that I read out loud before performances and auditions. They really help. Make it your mission to nail the accent and when you have even a slight handle on it, if someone asks you if you can lose your real accent say yes and be prepared to show them. It’s nerve-wracking but, speaking from experience, worth it!

And, as I mentioned in a previous post we should ALWAYS be auditioning. The more you audition, the better at it you become and the more confidence you exude when you walk into those rooms – which, by the way, is MOST of the battle as an actor. Don’t sit around and wait for the perfect time to do it. It is astonishing how time flies. Don’t waste a single moment if you’re serious about this acting stuff. It’s not always neat and tidy, but the experience is essential.

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About The NYC Actor

Angela Dee is a professional actress working in Film, Theatre, TV, Commercials and Voiceovers. She currently lives in New York. www.angeladee.com

4 Responses to “Ask Me!: Accents Part 2”

  1. You are so welcome. Your “Ask Me” is wonderful. Congratulations!

  2. Angela, the coach you mention, Leigh Dillon is coaching professionally and also, currently on faculty at Purchase College. She remembers you fondly! 😉

  3. The coach you studied with in school, Leigh Dillon, still coaches professionally. She is a member of VASTA and is on faculty at Purchase College, Conservatory of Theatre Arts.

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