One of the many beautiful things that voice-over does is the ability to connect with a wide variety of cultures. Depending on the project or the desired target market, it is possible to hear many unique and diverse voiceover accents that aim to relate a specific message to the end listener.
Depending on where you live in the world, that voice may change. Worldwide there are over 7000 languages, each with various accents and dialects. China has the most native speakers, and their language has 13 variations. Arabic has over 20 variations, and English has over 160 dialects or accents – how many can you name? To date, there is no intention or global neutral accent, yet hearing your mother tongue or accent can have a personal touch. It can provide warmth and comfort, encouraging your customer to purchase a product or service.
Voiceover Accents by Region
Living in the western hemisphere, it’s common to hear one specific voice or accent. In the voice-over industry and linguists, this is a Neutral North American accent, which spans many miles, time zones, and countries.
The neutral North American accent, also known as the General American accent, is best described as the one heard on national news outlets like CNN or NBC News. You will also hear this accent from most working North American on-camera actors. This accent is the most requested in north American voiceover as it’s considered the broadest, neutral and general. You will hear this accent on national television commercials, self-checkout pods at large retailers like Walmart or Target, when you call your communications network provider, and on most eLearning tutorials. This accent is perceived to be professional, conversational, and engaging.
Regional accents are also desired in voice-over work. Examples include:
- New York/Bronx
- Canadian Maritimes
Regional accents are usually desired for local commercials but can be requested for national ads depending on the commercial’s context or goal. Regional accents can be perceived as comfortable, engaging, and comedic, and they can bring a smile to one’s face and make the product or service relaxed and relatable.
A Growing Pool of Talent
From the beginning of the voiceover industry to just about ten years ago, the pool of VO talent was relatively small. With the rise of digital capabilities, many new working voice actors are available. This rise of talent has brought a multitude of accents and dialects, which has enriched the work and made it more relatable to consumers.
When getting a voiceover agent, talent will list the accents and dialects they can perform. Most voice actors can perform at least 2-3 accents outside of their native language, yet, care must be taken not to perform accents that may misappropriate oneself.
Benefits of Voiceover Accents
The beauty of having so much talent means casting directors and creative producers can hire authentic voice actors to perform the desired accent. There is a benefit to casting directors if the voice actor can perform a multitude of accents. The context and message of the project will determine whether the director needs an authentic accent, and extreme care and consideration must be taken to determine what is appropriate.
Sectors of the Industry Using Accents
Almost every sector today will use accents in their voiceover projects. You’ll hear them in national commercials, eLearning videos, animation, documentaries, corporate narrations, and more. Accents are heard more than ever in voiceover, which is beautiful. Big chain retailers have also noted that accents help the audience see their ad as credible, classy, and international. It also stands out in a sea of neutral north American accented voices, and it’s in their desire sometimes to include a variety of accents. Some voice actors will purposely audition in a regional accent to stand out from the other 300 neutral North American accents, which can also help them book the job.
Examples of Leah’s Voiceover Accents Work
Leah can perform a multitude of accents and uses extreme care when auditioning for jobs that aren’t in her mother tongue. Because of Leah’s heritage, she feels comfortable performing accents from across Canada, the US, and the Caribbean. Leah also performs in African and Spanish accents, British UK, and even eastern European, depending on the request. If the audition requests an “authentic” accent, Leah will only audition in her mother dialect of neutral North American. You’ll hear Leah’s voiceover accent work in numerous animations and gaming work, as well as commercials for Guinness Beer, TikTok, Listerine, Adidas, Arsenal Football Club, Cymbiotika, etc.
Whatever accent you choose for your next voiceover, careful consideration should be given to the target audience’s overall message and general context. Remember that hiring a talent like Leah, who can perform skilled voiceover accents, could be just what you need to make your project stand out!
Looking forward to working with you!