American or British Accent?

I received an email today from another actress who may be moving to the UK:

Q: Must American actors in London mostly use a British accent? As you know, for foreigners in the US, it is pretty much a requirement for them to have a perfect American accent in order to get work. Does the same hold true over there? I am especially curious about film and television work.

A: Keep your American accent! It's one of your most valuable assets here in the UK. It is the thing that makes you special, your USP (Unique Selling Point). Almost every TV and film role I go up for is American. In fact one of the reasons my agents took me on is because they didn't have any American actresses my age on their books. Casting directors want the real deal, so when American roles are available the breakdown usually says "Genuine Americans required". A lot of American commercials and TV pilots are cast over here, and producers specifically seek native accents. Now it's a real pain when an English person has a perfect (sometimes barely passable) American accent and gets the job over you, but that's the biz.

When British regional accents are required, they look for native speakers as well (Manchester, Scottish, Irish, Northern, Cockney, Birmingham, London etc.). As for your British RP (Received Pronunciation) accent - it's definitely worth perfecting, but you won't use it as often as your natural accent. I've only ever used it in stage productions (Macbeth, Twelfth Night the Musical, Failed States). The Actors Centre has some great accent/dialect tutors to help you on your way. They have classes and one on one sessions.

Good luck!


MKB said…
I don't know about that- where you say keep your American accent because it is your 'USP'- I am a Black woman with a Natural strong American accent and I don't get any auditions for American accents.
I don't know if this country is racist or maybe my agents suck. Maybe its both- and there's nothing here for Black Americans. I think maybe that should really be changed somehow or London should take a hint from America and start putting more black people on TV.
It is so frustrating and its getting to the point where I will start writing my own material and put myself and also the so called minority in it as well.

~Frustrated Black actress

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