Is My Accent in the Way of an Acting Career

by Dmitry
(Moscow, Russia)


QUESTION:

Dear Acting-School-Stop.com,

First you did a great job creating this highly helpful resource, Thank you! Hope you receive as much as you give..

my question is about the English and the accent.

English is not my native language and I try constantly improve it but it will always be hard for me to feel 100% confident and competente at everything the actor is doing in LA.

What would you tell about it? I mean is this an issue inside the industry? Do foreigners have less chances or they are less interesting for casting directors?

or if I easily speack English should I focuse on the accent and try to sound like a local person as much as I can using slang or even try to sound less like a foreigner?

Thank you.
Dmitry

ANSWER:

Having an accent does not mean you won't get an acting job, but it means you will be limited to those roles that require your particular accent. At the beginning, that's not a bad thing. Your accent is like a special skill, so when there's a Russian character being cast, you're more likely to get called in to audition because there are only so many actors who can do an authentic Russian accent (and sometimes the role requires you speak the language).

But after a while, you will probably want to play more than the often stereotyped characters written with Russian accents. And yes, I do think that it's hard to book other roles if you have an accent (especially in film and TV). It doesn't really make sense, because there are plenty of people with accents in the US, but that's how it usually goes. If a role doesn't specify an accent, then the casting director will expect you to have Standard American speech.

How do you do that? You can take accent reduction classes, but when your first language is not English, it's very hard to ever sound completely American. From what I've been told, it has to do with the ear and how hard it is to really hear the sounds of another language we didn't grow up with. Some people have a better ear than others, so definitely try the speech classes. Before you do, record yourself speaking with your accent. This way, if you do start to loose your accent, you can go back to it when you audition for a part that requires it.

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What if no accent but the speech is not american
by: Dmitry

Thank you for prompt reply. I've got your point.

But what if the accent is not strong or almost no accent at all but the speech is obviously not pure American? Is it fine for the directors if the actor just follows the script and plays an American character?

For instance in "Glengarry Glen Ross" Al Pacino talks with some accent and he does not sound like American. In "The Dark Knight", in the episode they have a dinner with a Russian ballerina - YES, her accent is strong and certainly for a Russian character.

If you wish not being associated with specific accent characters you have to eliminate your accent and talk like American?

ANSWER:

Yes, although some directors will be more open-minded with casting, the best is to be able to do a Standard American accent. If you can also do specific accents (Southern, New York, British etc.), that will give you even more of a range of course.

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