5 Ways to Nail an Accent
Playing a role that requires an accent can be daunting. It’s common for actors to decide to take on new accents as listed skills to market themselves for scripted roles. It’s another marketable item on your checklist that can make your resume standout in a sea full of people.
So, you’re ready to audition for a role that requires an accent. How do you efficiently prepare? Practice your craft, even when there’s not a role on the horizon that calls for an accent. Use these 7 tips to guide you in perfecting your accent.
1. Study the dialect.
If there’s a particular accent you would like to list as a skill on your resume, study it. Conduct research on the country, listen to music by artists who speak naturally in that accent, or watch films with american actors who have aced it. When you feel ready, practice reading in character. When your audition date is nearing, record yourself speaking in character. Listen to how you sound so you can see where you need to improve.
2. Avoid sounds that throw off the audience.
Every accent has a few sounds that should be executed properly in order to be convincing. There are also some sounds that your audience won’t notice if said incorrectly. Regardless, an accent must flow. If this is something you’re struggling with, a dialect coach could be beneficial to mastering the accent.
3. Find consistency.
Be consistent when reading your lines. Often times, actors struggle when there’s an emotional scene or a difficult word to pronounce. This leads to pronunciation being inconsistent. When you practice, it'll build your confidence. You'll become less worried about pronuncing words correctly and more focused on conveying the emotion.
4. Practice often, always.
Another helpful tool can be spontaneously speaking in the accent. This could include talking to yourself out loud while on your way to work, chatting with friends or ordering food the next time you’re at a restaurant. Find excuses to test your ability to make your new tone sound like second nature. Sing the accent.
Some accents sound like a melody. Some words should be sung instead of being spoken. Let your words flow. If it’s an emotional scene, become the character. If your accent is imperfect, it’ll sound more believable. If you’re looking for inspiration, revisit tip #1.
5. Embrace your characters’ universe.
If you’re in a production that takes place in 1950’s England, embrace that era. Studying the time and the environment of the project will help you in not only understanding your character but accurately representing that role. If it’s available to you, rehearse with characters you have scenes with. The two of you will be more in sync.