Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

“What About My Accent?”

“I’m from [a foreign country] and/or have a [regional] accent or speech challenge. Can I make it as a voice actor in Los Angeles?”

Your current regional flavor of English is not a fixed limitation. With talent and the necessary training, you can compete in a larger voiceover market and gain enough control to selectively apply or lose any regionalism by choice. Your “accent” becomes just one of many options available to you.

Some individuals naturally have a knack for absorbing dialects informally through exposure, while others may require training. Through proper training, you can learn the most useful modes of speaking for the specific market you wish to compete in. You can keep neutral American English, various flavors of British English, “mid Atlantic” accents, international dialects, and more within reach, while still retaining your home “default” as an additional option.

Initially, all actors become aware of their various “defaults” and then learn to exert control over them. Each performer discovers how to access their unique inner well of emotions and apply it through the lens of their imagination with precision and intention. Although it requires effort at first, this process becomes more instinctive over time.

In addition to standard acting training, mastering the art of improvisation is immensely helpful, as voice acting often involves spontaneous creativity. Voice actors frequently need to come up with fresh options and ideas on the spot.

Paying attention to the finer details of diction and speaking is particularly crucial for voice actors to gain control over. Accent, pitch, diction, and pacing become conscious choices that are eventually incorporated instinctively into their acting and improvisation, enhancing their vocal art and performances.

What once appeared fixed becomes just one of many available choices. Voice actors wield a broader range of creative possibilities in their acting, allowing them to break free from limitations and bring more to the table. They also become more marketable and easier to hire.

Voice actors are often expected to portray not just one character, but multiple ones. Before a session begins, there is often a process of experimenting and fine-tuning a character’s delivery. A voice actor’s value lies not only in their acting and improvisational skills but also in their vocal versatility. They are expected to conjure a variety of characters and refine them on the spot.

A proficient voice actor strives to gain mastery over all these aspects.

Therefore, any vocal regionalism a voice actor possesses early in their career is valuable—it allows them to start from a place of authenticity. However, if your goal is to compete as a voice actor in a larger market like Los Angeles, it is wise to aspire to gain control over your speaking abilities, enabling you to selectively apply regional accents or other variations as a deliberate choice, like adding seasoning to a dish, rather than being limited to a fixed or passive accent.

A voice actor is akin to a “short-order chef” who must have the capacity to deliver more than one flavor of words.

Leave a Reply

© Dee Bradley Baker 2023

%d bloggers like this: