The Actor Accent Exchange Twitter account was founded in May 2020, shortly after the first COVID Lockdown in the UK. Here actor Emma Lacey Turner explains why she felt compelled to create it…
Below are all the accents that actors are offering. pic.twitter.com/CKGdnwYH6H
— Actor Accent Exchange (@AccentActor) May 28, 2020
Voice & accent training for Actors… Where do even you start?
My first acting roles were four years ago, in theatre, whilst I was attending actor training in a TV and film actor academy and a Meisner technique acting class. Accent training never cropped up in any of the formal training I received. So when I was offered a theatre role with an Australian accent, I did not have a clue where to even start! I knew that all of my earlier years of viewing Neighbours (1985 – ) and Home and Away (1988 – ) was just not going to cut it.
I decided to reach out to my local community Facebook group and was lucky enough to have a wonderful Australian ex pat living close by who wanted to help me. And help me she did – in fact, I was often questioned in the theatre bar after each performance as to how the theatre had managed to cast a ‘native Australian’!
Accent training never cropped up in any of the formal training I received…
Steps towards learning a new accent: social networking
As my agent put me forward for many more roles it was inevitable that I would be asked to perform a self-tape in another accent before too long. I have been part of the Twitter acting community for a few years now and so decided to reach out to fellow actors to help with my accent conundrum. It was left to kind tweeters to respond and I was not receiving the support I needed quickly enough.
It was then that I decided to set up a group that I myself could access when I needed it. I quickly realised the need for this resource when my followers hit 500 in just a few weeks.
Followers are asked to do a short intro video offering their native accent which they place in the comments of the pinned tweet. This acts as a directory for actors to message other actors requesting mentorship with their desired accent.
From all of the positive feedback received the platform appears to be have helped many actors since it launched; specifically offering support for those who get that all important self-tape request, audition or casting and don’t know where to turn.
The Actor Accent Exchange: making accent ‘coaching’ accessible for free
The fundamental foundation setting this up has been to make accent coaching and training accessible without cost. I have often experienced and witnessed excessive costs for actors who wish to develop their skills, which is astounding to me when it is an industry that is not often consistently paid. I have since founded the Actor Accent Exchange Facebook page to make accents accessible to an even wider audience.
My hope for the future is to continue organically growing my follower base. I also hope that actors will see the benefits of using AAE to add to their actor tool kit, so that they are prepared for any accent requested of them. The most important thing is that it is a valuable resource for actors and provides a sense of community where the kindness of others fuels its growth.
Editing & Artwork: Richard Williams
Images courtesy of: Emma Lacey Turner