Being an ex-pat American voiceover actor in the UK, I’ve learned to play to my strengths.  So for me, that looks like, I go with what comes easiest and hailing from North America I do what I do best and that is the standard American accent.  Can I do other accents?  Of course!  Some people are better at this than others, what I mean is a small group can pick them up quickly, most are like me – when trained they can learn anything, and then there is a small group again who just don’t do accents other than their own.  All have had careers in the VO industry.

Foreign Accents

My general motto is there’s no point in competing with those from the UK, so I generally don’t unless I think I can do it from when I walk in the door.

Casting people, in my experience, make snap judgments, so I’d rather do my job well in the accent of my choice than do it OK and it really isn’t showing my best – auditions are about showing our best.  It’s a bit like speed dating, they know in the 1st few seconds whether they want to take the conversation any further…

What do I do?

I work with accent coaches when I can and the project budget will afford it.  This is my best way to ensure a clear and concise version of any accent.

Play to your strengths, we aren't all Sean Connery - at least, not yet!

Play to your strengths, we aren’t all Sean Connery – at least, not yet!

In voice over, there is such easy access to native speakers, that I’ve rarely needed a coach for voice over. I get hired because of my natural accent, especially for corporate or e-Learning.

Now for gaming and animation, I can get away with doing different accents a bit more. As then, it’s a lot about the character. This is when my knowledge of languages helps me, as I’ve studied German, French, Italian, and Latin. This was necessary for my opera training.

To be honest, I’ve got a lot of roles despite having a foreign accent because they like my work and are willing to be flexible with the role I’ve auditioned for.  I’ve even been able to test out my RP accent in productions and it’s been very flattering when I get to do that.

Overall point

So my overall point – I like to play to my strengths, if they like me, they will hire me or remember me because of me being me, not because I show off my versatility.  The audition is your place to shine, so I make it as easy as possible for myself to do that and get the job 1st, then show them what I  can do with my versatility. At least with my 1st take or my instincts tell me otherwise!

How to find accent coaches?

  • contact your local Equity branch – they often have a list of people
  • ask other actors
  • for American accents – contact American Actors UK – they have a list of North American coaches based in the UK
  • join actor Facebook pages like BAN and ask if all else fails on these sorts of pages

What are your thoughts?  Share below!

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