Last Monday, in my Comedy class - we were asked to perform our comedy sides emailed by our instructor over the weekend.
I love the sides. It was cleverly written, very funny - I felt that I can take the character to many directions.
Because in the previous class, I was commented by how THICK my accent was... I spent extra effort on the lines. I video taped my performance with my camera, then played it back with my headsets on. I pay close attention to how I sound.
I made some adjustments, then record myself again....
But on Monday, again. She commented on my accent. Asked me to slow down, and enunciate the words.
I did. I really did.
I have been living in the U.S. for 20 years. I have told that I do have an accent... but no ever describe it as "Thick." - I felt like a slap on the face... And went into a total depression. This accent thing is going to haunt me for the rest of mylife.
So, after I did the sides for the second time, she suggested that I should 'go with the stereotype' - just to see how things turn out.
The Crazy Asian Man.
I turned on my super thick accent... Turn on my character engine... And went all out.
Everyone was laughing. They liked it. They loved it.
Jodi even suggested that sometimes, it is the stereotype character that gets us the job. Instead of resent it... We should embrace it, and utilize it when the time comes.
Little did they know... Doing this Stereotype character is my specaility. I mean, it's one of many tricks that I have in my bag. Having them commenting on my performacne - I didn't know if I should feel flattered or depressed over the fact that the only way I could entertain is to play a stereotype.
Of all the legit auditions that I have been sent out for, are characters who are either a Chinese Delivery Man, a Chinatown Chef, or someone who recently came to America.
For "Golden Seas," my character was asked to put on a thick broken English. (I did it, because it's effective with the subject matter of the film. You will know when you see it.)
For "White Knuckle," my character has a super thick Chinese Accent. (I did it, because the script wasn't insulting and stereotyping Asians. It's part of the character's charm)
For "Pink Slip," I was asked do 95% of my character's line in Mandarin Chinese. (I did it, because the character is working at the company for VISA. You know. VISA.)
For "Passengers of 7D," I protrait a foreign resident of the apartment. (A foreign resident, that make sense, because he wasn't a native New Yorker)
For "Sushi King Goes to New York," I was a Chinese-Japanese Chef, who doesn't really know how to make authentic Japanese food. I was asked to speak Japanese with Chinese accent. (Well, it's a Paid Job...)
For "Concerto," my character was a Host who speaks with thick accents. (The segement is suppose to be a Japanese TV Commercial... So yeah, Broken English would make sense)
The list go on and on and on...
Yes. Of all these projects that I have done - I did them because the content of the script did not insult or degrades the Asian culture. (And yes, I have rejected projects that I found offensive, or protraiting the Asian character in a negative way)
One of my goals this year, is to put together a nice Acting Reel. But I don't want to filled it up with a bunch footage of me, speaking everything but Standard English Accent.
(Uh... Yeah, I got other works of me speaking pretty good English, but I couldn't use them for my reel due to other reasons....)
I know Jodi was trying to be helpful - and part of her job was to help us finding what is our own "Brand" - If I don't improve my Standard English Accent, then I will always be stuck with this "Brand."
You must be thinking... Maybe I should invest some money Accent Reduction Courses?
Yes I have. And I'm still working with a private Acting/Dialogue Coach on a per-case basis. (Per-case: whenever I got a script, I will work with him on it).
But right now, I'm on the hunt for an affortable and effective Speech/Accent Reduction Class in New York that I can attend on weekly basis.
*sigh* So expensive.... So expensive...