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Episode 32: Why Mimicry is the Worst Way to Learn the U.S. Accent

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by Katherine Beck in The All American Accent
08/06/2021

Episode 32: Why mimicry is the worst way to learn the U.S. accent

I bet you think mimicry is a great way to learn the American accent?

It’s great if you’re doing a voice match but otherwise it’s actually one of the worst ways to learn the American Accent.


I’m breaking down why you should avoid mimicry AND how to learn instead.

By the time you finish listening, you’ll know:

  • The real meaning of mimicry
  • What it means to ‘Voice Match’
  • The best ‘sense’ to use for learning the American Accent

If this episode inspires you then I’d love to hear from you! Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram stories and tag me @katherine_beck_

Then follow me on Instagram to go ‘behind the scenes’ with me and my own journey as an American accent coach and Voiceover Actor.


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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Katherine Beck
You’re listening to the All American actors podcast, episode 32. In today’s episode we are talking about why mimicry is the worst way to learn the US accent that’s coming up next, ready to go behind the scenes and learn what it really takes to build a sustainable career as a working actor in the US film and TV industry. Join me Katherine Beck, your all American accent coach, as I give you the insight and inspiration to take action on your career, learn my best tips and tricks to performing with an American accent and hear from working actors and other industry professionals. To give you a comprehensive overview of this biz we call show them. This is the all American actors podcast. We will get to today’s episode in just a second. But first I want to give a huge shout out to one of my youngest students, Ava and her dad who says can’t wait to sink our teeth into all these episodes. The first three are so good. Catherine is an amazing us accent coach who has been working with my nine year old daughter through 2020. When you receive comments back from us managers saying they can’t pick an Australian accent at all. When self tapes have been submitted, you know you’re getting the right results. Catherine is meticulous in her approach and so easy to listen to a true Pro. Thank you so much Ava and Andy Ava really has been putting in the work on her American accent and it’s starting to pay off and I am so honored and proud to be your coach to help support you along the way and watch your incredible acting journey unfold. And thank you so much for your five star review. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, make sure you do so I have so many more incredible episodes lined up that you will not want to miss. So if you’re subscribed, you’re gonna get those episodes right in your podcast ready to go each week. So if you’re loving this podcast, go ahead, leave that five star review and let me know Okay, now one of my skills when I coach is the ability to listen to an actor speaking and through what I am hearing, I have a very good ear to hear the sounds and know where the sounds are placed within the mouth, how the sounds are getting formed, and then duplicate the same action so I can match what you’re doing based on what I hear. Now, this is not something I was born with, but rather a skill I developed over time for a variety of different reasons. One being when I was a voice actor in Los Angeles, every now and then I would be asked to audition as a voice match, which basically means you’re replacing another actor like a celebrity. So for example, it might be for an animated role in a feature film where, for example, for me, it happened once recently where there was a celebrity who did a role of a character in an animated film. And then for the second feature film, they were looking for a voice match to voice match that celebrity for that role. So it comes up all the time. It could be maybe for like a toy, a product of that character that perhaps the celebrity is not able to do the voice work for that toy. And they’re looking for a voice match somebody that sounds just like them, or very similar to do that job. So there’s a variety of different reasons why you might be asked to do a voice match. So basically, when I’ve been asked to do a voice match in the past, how I learned how to do this skill is I would listen to the voice over and over and over again. And I would think about the sound acoustics how the sound was landing where the sound was traveling within the mouth. And I would try and duplicate how I thought the sounds were being formed. Now, let me tell you voice matching is not easy. And I never actually booked a job doing voice matching. I know other actors who have but what I learned from all those voice matching auditions was how to get in tune with my vocal instrument how to shape sounds with my voice with my articulators, and how to listen to duplicate and match. Little did I know that that training would come in handy years later, when I became an American accent coach. Now here’s the thing, and you might be wondering, but Katherine, this episode is all about why mimicry isn’t the best way to learn the US accent and Yes, that is true. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it. But don’t you worry. I’m going to explain why mimicry is not the best way to learn. So let’s dive into that now. Okay, so here’s my take on why mimicry isn’t the best way to learn the US accent and it’s simple. When you are born outside of the US. You have likely heard the American accent on various television shows and movies throughout the years. So you have a subtle idea of what the accent sounds like. Now, it’s interesting. When you look up the definition of mimicry, I found this one definition, it was the psychological definition, which defines mimicry as an imitation of gestures, behaviors, facial expressions, speech, and movements, and imitation of speech. Think about that, and imitation. But when you think about our goal, when we want to inhabit another character, it really isn’t to imitate or copy or mimic. But to find truthfulness, and a connection to the character. When we imitate or mimic, there’s this feeling of like a detachment, a lack of authenticity there. And often I hear from my actors that they don’t feel connected to the accent, or they feel like the accent is sort of, like detached from them, or that their voice goes into like a different part of the register when they’re speaking in the American accent. And I wonder, and I think, and I challenge you to think is this because we’re starting off at a point of mimicry. So there’s already that imitation, that detachment there. And look, I’m not saying that mimicry is a bad way to learn the US accent, I’m just saying, I think there are better ways to learn the US accent and that mimicry should only be used as a starting point for learning the accent. But it should not be the ending point to learning your accent, or any other accent that you really want to fully inhabit. Developing your ear for the accent is a useful skill. But it is not the only sense you need to be using to fully inhabit the accent, you need to really get in touch with your other senses to fully understand and connect yourself and the character to the accent. So next time you’re practicing your American accent, or prepping for an audition or a role, think about this. Do you want to be an imitation of the character or truly live within and connect to the character, the choice is yours. And if you’re ready to start truly connecting to your character and learning how to master the all American accent, then I invite you to join me for my next five day all American challenge, where we are going to be looking at what it takes to truly master this accent. The challenge is starting really soon. So if you want to sign up, head over to Katherine beck.com slash challenge and I will see you there now if you love this episode, go ahead. Let me know take a screenshot of the show. Share it on your Instagram story and tag me in it at Katherine underscore Beck underscore you can find me there if you’ve got any questions or topics you’d like to hear on podcast, let me know. And coming up next week on the show. I’m going to be talking about why thinking about the US character from your point of view is preventing you from booking the role. Now make sure to share the show with all your actor friends, let them know what’s coming up next week and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become an all American Actor so you can be the working actor you dream to be until then go practice your American accent and I’ll see you back here next time.

 

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