Can you tell me what "african american male" sounds like.

0 votes
Some auditions ask for "African American" voice.  Can you explain what that means. And what does an "African American" sound like?
asked in Auditions by danmichaels (130 points)

3 Answers

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Man, you've opened up a can of worms.  My "African American" AKA "Black" friends are constantly surprised and often offended by what it can mean.  As a speech coach, all I can say is that often (not ALWAYS, but often), black actors have a deeper resonance in their voice which is distinguishable from other voice types (think of the beautiful, rich voices of Morgan Freeman and Maya Angelou).  Sometimes though, the client is looking for someone with dialectical traits of Southern or Inner City black speech.  This may or may not come with the label "Urban."  A great majority of black families in America are descended from families who migrate from the South and still retain some aspects of Southern Speech, even though they are generations removed.  Just as the original "White" Southern speech was based on the British Island accent of the time.  Many black actors have no discernible accent whatsoever, and have to create a character to fit descriptions of casting notices.
answered by deborahsalebutler (24,480 points)
Thanks for the reply, I guess the client request "African American sounding" is just flat out ambiguous. Dialects, accents, regional and local all come into play. Yes Freeman and Angelou have beautiful rich voices, but I don't hear them as African American, I hear them for what they are, great voices. The clients connotation has some disturbing undertones.  Don't judge me on the color of my voice, but the content of my audition.
+1 vote
Some people claim that they can tell the ethnicity of a voice just by listening to it- and if they believe they can hear a difference, they'll often request the race of the actor even when working with VO. I see these requests most often for African American talents, but I've also seen clients request Chinese or Indian VO talents, while also requesting a 'neutral' accent, meaning that they're not looking for accents, but simply VO talents of these ethnicities. Some people simply feel that actors of different ethnicities sound different on some fundamental level- whether or not they actually do is a whole other debate.

In these cases, I recommend that if you're not African American, don't try and edit your vocal delivery to try and get to a particular 'sound', because I don't think it's imitable without being offensive. Just delete jobs that are looking for a VO talent of a race that you're not- there will be many, many more auditions that don't make a request for a talent of a particular race.
answered by mlenti (14,220 points)
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I have to say I am mixed black and white I do not hear a difference in the way i talk or sound but if im on the phone or playing an online game people will say i am black. Now to your question there is not an African american sound  because I have had auditions for African american and have not got a thumbs up and some where I did and the job was awarded to a non African american. If you listen to my demo the first read asked for African american you tell me.
answered by bigdame702 (180 points)