As an actor, you know how important it is to be able to slip into a vast number of roles. You may change time periods with your characters, attitudes, personalities and accents. While many low-budget films will take actors who can manage an acceptable accent, the big roles require you to be spot-on with your speech.
A dialect coach can help you be more authentic with your accent. You will be able to convince the directors, producers and later the audience that you really are from the South or that you have an Australian background.
A Focus on the Details
While it is possible to develop a basic accent on your own, most experts know that learning a regional dialect is more difficult. While you can fake a British accent, can you determine the difference between the Cockney accent and the Essex accent?
To get the accent down correctly, actors must master the pitch, tone, inflections on certain syllables or words, and many other concepts. A dialect coach will teach them the details that make the accent authentic. In fact, a good accent coach can help one become so realistic that they would even fool the natives.
Choosing the Right Coach
Most dialect coaches master many accents. When choosing a coach to help you, consider what other accents you may want to learn in the future. For instance, if you are a period actor, you may focus on European accents, such as French, Scottish, Welsh and British. On the other hand, your goal may be to master all of the regional dialects in the United States.
You will want to find a coach with a solid reputation. However, this does not mean the coach will be perfect for you. Every coach has his or her own personality and style of teaching. You want someone you can work with over the long term.
Removing Your Accent
The other challenge for actors is learning to remove their own accent. If they have a particularly strong accent, such as from the South, England or Asia, they may find it difficult to get well-paying work. They will be limited to roles cast in these areas unless they learn how to tone down their natural accent.
Even people who speak perfect English may struggle to lose a thick accent. They may have a phrase or even a single word where the accent comes through. A dialect coach can teach them how to say that word or phrase without slipping back into their accent. In some roles, having what is perceived as no accent at all is essential.
If you want to broaden your opportunities or venture into a specific dramatic area, you will need to learn how to add or remove accents at will. Consider hiring a dialect coach to teach you numerous accents so that you can land your dream roles with ease. You will stand out from the other actors, and develop a reputation with your peers.
Claudette Roche is a dialect coach who teaches accent reduction in theLos Angeles area. She teaches foreign and American accents to actors and business persons/executives. In 2010 she was named as one of The Top 5 Voice Coaches by Hollywood Weekly Magazine.