Recently, I did a review of some of my voice jobs that I had done over the past few months and I began to notice a bit of a pattern emerging. Interestingly, most of the roles, included an ability to ‘drop’ an accent and do so convincingly. These included Cockney, South African, Neutral, Received Pronunciation (RP) and ‘International’ (British). I along with many other UK based voice over artists, are now operating in a global market and there is even a greater appetite from clients to use voice actors, who possess strong accent ability. You only have to look at genres such as gaming and animation, where there is an expectation that you are skilled in voicing several different characters and do them with consummate ease.
I have personally had to do this myself a few years ago for an online character video, where I had to voice three different accents English, French and Australian for the performance. On my own accent reel, I have Cockney, Nigerian, Russian and Jamaican Patois. This versatility came in very handy for one of my most recent clients in the Dominica Republic, who had listened to the reel and her client immediately wanted me to record a radio commercial for a global brand in Jamaican Patois, that was then aired across Trinidad and Tobago!!! I believe that having been brought up in the UK and growing up in a variety of culturally diverse communities in Nottingham as well as attending the University of Manchester, where 95% of all the students on my course at the time, were from over 15 different countries, helped shape my ability to deliver a diversity of accents as a voice actor today.
So the answer to the question of whether accent ability is a relevant skill? Is yes I believe it is, as the demand for different accents grows, more actors like myself will also need to keep developing and building on our repertoire., in order to remain relevant and marketable. Also at the end of the day, doing accents is also about having a bit of fun, challenging ourselves and growing as actors, surely that can only be a good thing.