You've actually done it: you've packed up a Uhaul and moved across the country to pursue your dream of being an actor in Hollywood. You have an agent and an apartment, but there's just one problem: you also have a strong regional accent. A strong southern or New England accent may be charming, but it will also seriously limit your ability to snag acting gigs outside of niche roles. In order to be eligible for as many auditions as possible, just follow these four tips:
Hire a Speech Therapist Specializing in Accent Modification
Hiring a speech therapist or voice coach is crucial to neutralizing your strong regional accent. Most of us have a hard time truly hearing our own accents and the ways we pronounce words differently from standard American English. A speech therapist or voice coach will expertly identify your areas of weakness and give you specific exercises to practice every day. They will also track and test your progress, helping you truly see results.
Keep a Notebook
Keeping a notebook is a good idea because it gives you a place to jot down words you have trouble pronouncing, or regional colloquialisms you are trying to rid yourself of. For example, you may find yourself repeatedly saying "y'all." Writing down sentences where you replace "y'all" with "you all" and then saying them out loud can be very helpful. You can also ask friends and acting class partners to point out when you pronounce specific words or phrases with an accent. Then, write them in your notebook and practice saying them in more neutral English.
Consider Joining Toastmasters
An organization like Toastmasters can be helpful in modifying your accent, because you will be making professional-grade speeches and giving table talks and then receiving critical feedback. If you let the other members and the instructors know that you are working on shedding your regional accent and colloquialisms, they will provide targeted feedback based on your speeches.
Use Accent Modification Books
You can buy books and CDs full of accent modification exercises online. Going through the assignments and listening to the correct pronunciation of words on CD will supplement the work you do with a speech therapist or vocal coach. Losing a regional accent is all about practice, and the more work you put into it up front the faster your results will be.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your acting career isn't hindered by your accent.
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