Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Sound Too Regional? Accent Reduction Might Be For You

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

January 24, 2013

Comments (9)

Three actors waiting to be called in for an audition, standing in the hallway, casting sign taped to the wall, scripts in hand, female actress and male actor smiling and joking with each other.

Can someone pick your voice out as being from a specific region?

For those who get into voice-over, being able to sound "neutral" in terms of accent can be very important, so much in fact that these talent work hard to reduce their regional accents and adopt a more national, polished sound for broadcast and other applications.

Have you worked toward reducing your accent or modified your accent to sound, well, unaccented?

Be sure to comment and let me know! Join the conversation in today's VOX Daily.

Got You Pegged

Many people in our industry have worked hard to rid themselves or minimize their regional accents in order to get work. One of the great things about being an actor, and a voice actor at that, is that you can study different accents and dialects that will help expand your opportunities for roles.

If you've ever wondered what your regional accent is, you can take this US regional accent quiz.

Sometimes when people who have worked hard to eliminate their regional accent get overly emotional or excited, their regional accent comes barreling through. Raw emotion tends to release more than just feelings...it can awaken accents or manners of speech, too! You might have noticed this either in yourself, people you know or in movies you have watched where inconsistencies in character voices may abound.

Accent Reduction and Modification

A number of celebrities work with dialect coaches on set when acting on television or in a film. Even someone like the president of the United States has invested in a form of training for the way that he speaks. As voice-over professionals, one skill you'll want to have is the ability to modify how your accent comes across. This may mean eliminating a regional accent or developing a new accent for roles on-camera or behind the microphone.

Voice trainer Jill Tarnoff specializes in helping people to modify regional accents. The clientele seeking accent modification services include corporate types, actors and those who would like to improve how they communicate.

Sam Chwat, "the speech therapist to the stars," has instructed a Who's Who of Oscar and Grammy winners and nominees, as well as business leaders, broadcasters, diplomats and politicians. The Sam Chwat Speech Center is the leading speech pathologist group that specializes in accent reduction/elimination. The Sam Chwat Method, the accent without an accent, has empowered thousands to achieve their personal goals. Their services include everything from foreign and regional accent elimination, to corporate presentation, dialect acquisition and Standard American English.

17 Celebrities Who Have Worked With Sam Chwat

Robert DeNiro
Julia Roberts
Roberto Benigni
Marcia Gay Harden
Willem Dafoe
Kate Hudson
Olympia Dukakis
Jude Law
Jon Bon Jovi
Patrick Stewart
Kim Cattrall
John Leguizamo
Roma Downey
Linda Evangelista
Rachel Weisz
Charlize Theron
Harry Connick, Jr.

Have You Tried To Modify Your Accent?

Whether you have tried to eliminate a regional accent or have worked hard to develop new accents for use in acting roles, I'd love to hear from you!

Be sure to let me know how you've been modifying your accent by leaving a comment.

Best wishes,
Stephanie

iStockphoto.com©seandeburca

Related Topics: Accent, Celebrities, industry, TV, United States


Comments


    I am from Houston, Texas. I have worked hard for fourteen years to have a more neutral, non-region specific voice! I can call upon the southern accent for clients if asked, and the best part is that its REAL. I also have seemingly mastered several British dialects, and routinely book British accent voiceover jobs on voices.com using them!
    -Markham Anderson

    Posted by:

      I am from Coastal North Carolina and am quite southern. When I am relaxed my "southern charm" is evident in my voice and I thought that was how I took the quiz...results say 88% Midland(but said maybe from Atlanta or Charleston) Wow. I took it twice speaking aloud, Here is the results:

      What American accent do you have?
      Your Result: The Midland

      88%
      "You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

      78%The South

      66%The West

      61%The Northeast

      55%The Inland North

      36%Philadelphia

      34%Boston

      3%North Central

      Gotta get back to the auditions!
      Herb Blake-Voice Artist

      Posted by:
      • Herb Blake
      • January 25, 2013 9:03 AM

        I ... AM Canadian. ha!

        80% North Central
        "North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

        76%Boston

        72%The West

        68%The Midland

        59%The Inland North

        53%The Northeast

        45%Philadelphia

        31%The South

        It's funny because according to the American couple that I sat next to on a trip to Florida last January, I don't sound Canadian at all. But, then again, my accent changes according to who I'm talking to. I have a tendency to mimic other people's accents without really thinking about it.

        Posted by:
        • Alice K.
        • January 25, 2013 10:38 AM

          I get busted on this sometimes for being Canadian. People may love how friendly we are and they sure do love to eat our maple syrup. But sometimes they aren't very forgiving when it comes to how we say certain words! :)

          Eh!

          Posted by:

            Fun quiz! Pegged me as "The West or Midland. Spent my childhood in Southern California, and now in Nebraska, so spot on. Glad I don't have a discernible accent--makes VO a lot easier! Thanks for something fun to divert myself away from editing for a few moments:-)

            Posted by:

              We have big regional variations here in UK, too. London alone has suburban nuances: being born there I can hear them, though I can't do that in say Glasgow or Manchester.
              As to suppressing accent: yes plain Brit RP is easily be perceived as 'posh', i.e. upper-class, though I'm certainly not that, and I used to think it a disadvantage to sound like the BBC until an excellent USA coach told me Use it. Work with it, not against. It is your unique proposition.
              I take that as one more way of saying 'Be Yourself'. Which does not mean it stops you building characters on top of it.

              Posted by:

                I started doing some voiceover work a few years ago, and then I decided to pursue a master's degree in speech-language pathology. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised that I enjoyed learning about the voice and accent modification / reduction, haha. The funny thing is my voiceover coach I used to work with encouraged me to neutralize my "Chicago" accent!Through training with voiceover coaches and my training in speech-language pathology, I have improved my awareness and knowledge about accent modification and voice improvement! I have been able to re-teach myself and others because of this training. I am excited to re-enter the voiceover world with my new knowledge and awareness of voice and speech patterns!

                Posted by:

                  Hello Stephanie:

                  Grew up in Northern New Jersey, rated as 100% northeastern. Guilty as charged! However, for the most part, the accent hasn't been a liability!

                  Posted by:
                  • Bill Nevitt
                  • January 27, 2013 1:32 PM

                    100% inland north -- which is cool because I grew up in Northeast Ohio, near Lake Erie! Right on.

                    Posted by:
                    • Margaret Rodeheaver
                    • January 28, 2013 10:30 AM

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