Hiring Authentic Foreign Accents You Can Trust
If you are looking to hire a voice actor to complete a project that will be distributed globally, you may be wondering where to begin. How do you find an authentic-sounding voice that will resonate with your target audience? How can you be sure the voice you are hearing has an authentic foreign accent and will be a voice that is familiar to your end audience?
Answering these questions can be especially hard if you are not a native speaker of the language in which you are trying to produce your product. Luckily, there are ways that you can fact-check a voice actor and the authenticity of their accent, as well as seek out help from others in the industry if needed.
Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when hiring voice actors for a global audience:
Tip #1: Hiring a Voice Actor – Which Accents/Languages Do I Need?
If you are coming to Voices in search of a voice actor, you probably already have a project in mind that you need to be completed. At this point, you will have already established where the end product (whether it’s a film, advertisement or another video) will be released and distributed. Where your content will be seen and by whom, is vitally important, as it can impact whether the voice you seek is regionally specific.
For example, many people are surprised to learn that a ‘British accent’ is a misnomer. An RP accent is typically what North Americans think of when they imagine how people in Britain speak, but in actuality, the number of accents is quite diverse. So depending on where your content will be seen, you may want to narrow it down a bit – should the person sound like they are from London or from Newcastle? This regional distinction is crucial in hiring the right voice.
You can explore your choices for different voice overs available through Voices, including filtering voice actors by languages or accents on the accent map of the UK.
It’s also important to note the top ten most in-demand non-English languages on Voices. This will give you a good sense of the languages and corresponding accents that you could identify and target.
Most In-Demand Languages
Tip # 2: Do Your Research on Authentic Foreign Accents
Once you have filtered through the accents and languages you are interested in hiring for, take a look through voice talent profiles. In talent profiles, you can see exactly where each voice talent lives (e.g. by city). While voice actors can be quite cosmopolitan and many move around, looking at where they live or reading their bio to learn where they grew up, is a great way to ensure that the voice talent will have an authentic-sounding accent. It’s also a good way to check on whether they’ll be at least familiar with the language spoken in that region.
If the voice talent’s location does not indicate they are in the region of the accented voice you are looking for, that doesn’t mean they are not a good fit – it just means that you will have to dig a little deeper.
You can also check a voice actor’s demos to see if they are able to speak in the voice you are looking to hire. Have they completed other projects in the language/accent you are seeking out? Does their bio include previous experience living/working in different territories? That is usually a good indication that you are on the right track.
Wondering what the top three foreign accents are, according to Voices?
Read up on the most attractive accents to U.S. companies.
Tip #3: Hire A Dialect Coach for your Voice Actor
If it happens that the accent you are looking for is very niche, and you haven’t found the perfect candidate for the job – don’t be discouraged. Voice actors are skilled and trained professionals who have a great ear and a knack for picking up accents. If you find a voice actor or know of someone who you love working with and think they may be up for the task, you can consider hiring a dialect or voice coach to help your talent complete your project.
Dialect coaches work with talent to make sure that the accent you are hearing is an authentic accent that is true to the local voices.
Voice actor and coach Shelly Shenoy says that she was once hired to be the voice of an African doll. Despite not being familiar with the specific dialect that she was being asked to voice, she had “coachable” qualities. “When I arrived at the sound studio on the week of the booking – there was an African Dialect coach on the scene. I asked the producer how I booked the job. He said, ‘we heard everything we needed to hear. We knew you’d be able to pull this off,’” says Shelly.
Tip #4: Ask Around for Voice Actor Recommendations
Word of mouth is the best way to gain insights into the industry. Ask other clients or partners if they have worked with any global voice actors before, and what their experience was. If they had a good experience with a great voice actor, chances are they would be willing to share that positivity and provide recommendations on who would be suitable for the role.
You can also rely on friends and family who may be familiar with the local language you are seeking out, to give a listen to a few voice samples. You can also hire a test group that speaks the same language, or with the accent as your target audience. This can help you avoid falling into the trap of stereotypes and ensure you are providing your audience with the most authentic representation of their voice.
Bonus tip for hiring authentic-sounding voices: If you are hiring for more than one regionally specific voice, you may not need to hire multiple voice actors. One voice actor, who is well-versed in multiple accents/dialects, may be able to complete several reads for you. For example: if you are hiring for a Standard Spanish-accented voice, it makes sense to see if this voice actor is able to do different versions of the Spanish accent (ie. Mexican Spanish, etc).
Finding Authentic Foreign Accents
When you are marketing to a global audience it is important to use a voice that authentically represents the end viewers and speaks to them in their native language. To find an authentically-sounding native speaker that both get your key message across and resonates with your audience takes a bit of work, but if you are willing to put in the research and ask around for recommendations, you can find a voice actor who will be able to spread your message globally.