hugh-laurie

Don’t Engage in Accent Reduction – Instead, Accent Addition

Hey, there!

For the longest time, I’ve had conversations with both regional American and non-American actors about their accents.

Almost to a person, they are fairly desperate to find a way to stamp out their native accent and replace it with a General American accent.

Big, big, BIG mistake.

Here’s why.

Imagine you’re a carpenter. The job you’re about to do requires a saw. But you have a hammer in your hand.

Do you pitch the hammer into the garbage in your pursuit of the saw?

Of course not. You set it aside, and you pick out another tool to use.

Why would you do this with your VO tool set?

Rather than attending an accent reduction class, or getting private coaching from someone who will help you “reduce” (read that, stamp out) your lovely Boston or Liverpudlian or Arkansas or Russian accent, something that could and will get you work when the work calls for it, instead work with an accent coach on developing a series of other accents, including General (and regional) American accents.

I’ve had dozens of VO demo clients with whom I’ve had to have serious conversations about the “embarrassment” of a regional or foreign accent. I’ve had to talk them down off the roof when they’ve been afraid of showing their true colors.

Remember – if you grew up there, if you were surrounded and modeled by natives just like you, when it comes to an audition that requires your hometown voice, you stand a much better chance of getting the part than does someone not from there, who can usually just manage a serviceable version of your region’s accent or dialect.

Here’s an article from Backstage that might just surprise you:

http://www.backstage.com/news/15-actors-who-masterfully-hide-their-natural-accents/

Leading the pack, the most famous example in recent memory: Hugh Laurie. Most people know him from his 8 years as Dr. Gregory House, MD on FOX’s House. But I remember him from the raucous Black Adder on the BBC, and my mother called me up after his appearance on the Tonight Show one night, and asked, “Why is House using a British accent??”

That’s awesome.

Not listed is Australian Simon Baker, who, for the last 6 years or so, has played Patrick Jane on The Mentalist (a show on which I’ve had the pleasure of guest starring), and countless other Australian, English, Minnesotan, South African, Bostonian, Irish, Canadian, Texan, Chicagoan and other brilliant actors that can slip effortlessly back into their native way of speaking and nail that requirement for a part – as opposed to having their heritage beaten out of them in a pursuit of General American.

This goes for all your acting tools, not just your accents and dialects.

Add to your tool set, don’t throw tools away.

Hope this helps.

David

9 Responses to 6 Steps to a Perfect VO Demo

  1. Kelli August 18, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    I feel really good about my demo. It is a quick and fun process, even for someone like me who gets very self concious. :)

  2. David Britz September 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    The demos are great. Superb quality. Why go anywhere else?

  3. David Britz October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Can’t wait to record my Narration VO Demo!! :))

  4. Mike Brang December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Having a well-produced demo is one of the most important things in the VO business. I had a number of demos made from other producers in the past and they all had one thing in common — that manufactured, cookie cutter sound!
    What sets David apart from the rest, besides his affordable price and tremendously fast turn around time, is that all of the clips you record with him sound unique. Each spot sounds like an actual commercial you recorded for a job.
    My agent loved the quality and even asked who produced it to refer his other talent there!

    Thanks again, David for producing such a great, high quality demo for me. You made the process relaxing and enjoyable. I urge anyone reading this unsolicited reply to listen to David’s student demos to hear the difference for yourself. Anyone would be lucky to work with him

  5. Kristy Liles February 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

    I can not thank you enough. I worked so hard on 15 page IVR project, one day I cryed, look for answers, pull my hear (not really) but I was about until another VO send me this great tool. Thanks!

  6. Frank June 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    David

    When v123 indicates the audition is for a student/ nonprofit are we to assume it is for $0. If so, why does the audition ask for an amount to be entered?

  7. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    David,
    I did get this scam through Voice 123. In our discourse, they offered me the gig and they gave me the name of a legit local place to record and the same runaround with the money. I didn’t send anything, but instead, I called the studio to make sure the booking was for the day we set up, and lo and behold, the people there had no idea what I was talking about. I then tried to call back my “contact person” who was setting this up and there was a fax machine beep on the other end. I immediately contacted Voice 123 and told them what had happened. You know what they say…if it sounds togaed to be true, it probably is. Thanks for the reminder!
    Shirley

  8. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    …too good…not togaed.
    The one time spell check didn’t work!

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