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How to play an Introvert

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by Katherine Beck in American accent tips
01/07/2020
How to play an introvert with an American accent

I’ve had a few students ask me recently how to play introverted characters with the American accent so I thought I should write a post about it as I’m sure other Actor’s may have the same question.

This is very near and dear to my heart because I am an introvert or as I like to say an extroverted introvert. I have the capability to be extroverted when I’m teaching or performing but I feel way more comfortable when I can retreat into my introverted state.

Growing up as introvert in the US I often felt uncomfortable. I was shy, I didn’t like to speak up and I didn’t like to be the center of attention. I found it petrifying to have to raise my hand in class and speak up but I quickly learned I needed to embrace my voice and project in order to be heard and voice my opinion when it mattered.

The US is a nation that embraces freedom of speech and a right to be heard. We are a nation of speaking up and expressing our point of view. It is embraced to be loud. For an introvert that’s tough.

As an introvert in The U.S. you can’t always be quiet. There will be times where you will need to use your voice. You may find sometimes have to talk when you don’t feel like it or might feel uncomfortable. I remember in my report cards it would be mentioned that I was quiet and needed to speak up more. I didn’t like speaking in big groups. I always felt more comfortable talking to someone one-on-one. I had to get used to speaking up. I would project my voice if I had something important to say but I wouldn’t just talk to talk. I would choose my moments to speak. And if it was really important I would maximise my volume, my projection to be heard.

So when you’re playing an introverted American character your volume and melody on important words is key.

In terms of physical space, you don’t always have to be physically open but you do need to be able to create the space inside the mouth so you can be heard. You’ve got to be able to create that space to let the sounds out.

You won’t always be overly physical with the shape of the lips or the opening of the jaw but you need to understand the formation of sounds so you can play with the space for the introverted character.

In the American accent you want to share the words with the other person instead of keeping the sounds to yourself.

Do you always have to be loud? No, but do you need to be able to be loud sometimes.

My advice to you when playing an introverted character with an American accent is to gauge the volume, gauge the energy, gauge the sound. Is it reverting into the body or are you sharing your message with the other person? You want to make sure you’ve got the breath support too so you can be heard.

Make specific and smart choices that are specific to your character. Specific to the way they feel, how they need to express themselves, how they are feeling in the moment. 

Lastly, stop worrying if what you are doing is right or wrong. If you are connected and truthful to the character we will believe you and be fully engaged to your performance.

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GET MY FREE GUIDE

These are the EXACT steps I use to teach Actors (from all over the world) how to bridge the gap between process and performance.

Get my free guide!