In today’s society, we’re seeing an influx of different cultures in the entertainment field. With this comes a new wave of actors who are auditioning with different accents. This can be a great advantage for landing a role.
Auditioning with a different accent can help you stand out from the crowd. It can also help you better connect with the character you’re auditioning for. If you’re able to successfully pull off the accent, it’ll show that you’re dedicated to the role and that you have the ability to change your voice to fit the character.
Different accents can also add depth and dimension to a character which makes it more believable. When done well, an accent can be one of the most memorable aspects of a performance.
Let’s take a look at some convincing accents:
Mare of Easttown – This HBO series takes place in Philadelphia, PA, USA. In real life, Kate Winslet is from the United Kingdom, so not only is she portraying an American Accent, but she adds an authentic Philly accent on top of it!
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Idris Elba played the historic figure, Nelson Mandela. Idris is a British actor and an alumnus of the National Youth Theatre in London. So when it was time to play Mandela, Idris worked with a dialect coach to learn the South African accent. Also, Idris’ parents are West African so even though they have a different regional accent, Idris was able to draw bits and pieces from his folks.
The Wolf of Wall Street – Margot Robbie is from Dalby, Queensland, Australia. In The Wolf of Wall Street, which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot’s character Naomi Lapaglia is from Brooklyn, NY, but not just from “Brooklyn”… she’s from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn!
Bonus Video: If you want some laughs, check out this video of Leah Remini and Jennifer Lopez Explaining Brooklyn vs. the Bronx accents to James Corden.
Brokeback Mountain – Heath Ledger (RIP) was born and raised in Perth, Australia, but you’d never know it from watching his films where he uses an American accent. In Brokeback Mountain, he uses a regionally specific Wyoming, USA dialect in which he has to twist his mouth in order to get the words out with the correct accent.
DirectSubmit NYCastings spoke with Broadway, television and film veteran actress, Faye Grant, who has performed with accents throughout her career. Growing up in Michigan, USA, Faye learned to adapt different dialects for her roles.
In the TV series State of Grace, Faye plays a Southern belle. Check out Faye’s Southern accent in this State of Grace reel. Her character, Tattie McKee, is so over the top, but that’s another discussion.
Faye Grant dived head on when we asked her about accents:
“I don’t really look at roles with ‘accents’ as accents because the person with an accent doesn’t have one where they come from — they’re just trying to speak American English as best they can. (The exemption is the Brits, who seem to become more British when in the USA).
Body language shifts and changes depending on culture, especially for women (even in the USA — think of a New Yorker growing up having to push their way into a subway car vs. a person from Alabama where life is slow), so cadence and syntax is only a part of playing a person from a different culture.
I tell young actors to travel and observe. Cultural differences are most prominent when you see how specific cultures handle being late for something.
I try to honor the writers’ vision of a character when auditioning, but if I see it as a person from another culture, I try to embody that.”
Obviously, the outcome you want to see from an audition is that you book the role. For some actors that means using an accent. But does auditioning with an accent actually help win the role?
There are pros and cons to using an accent during an audition. On the one hand, it can help you stand out from the other actors who are vying for the same role. It can also make your reading more believable and authentic. On the other hand, however, using an accent can be risky. If you don’t sound convincing, it could backfire and cost you the part.
So what’s the verdict? Ultimately, it depends on the situation. If you’re comfortable with using an accent and you think it will help your chances of landing the role, go for it.