Is having an accent while speaking another language ever positive? I always used to think so, but then I came across Sofia Vergara, an actress from Columbia. Although she may be known for previous roles, I recently discovered her on the TV show Modern Family where she plays a Columbian and speaks English with a strong accent. In fact, her mispronunciations of certain words are often used to provide humor. So it dawned on me that perhaps her accent contributed to her professional success. After all, would she have been cast on the show if she didn’t have an accent?
In a recent article she spoke about how difficult it has been to get rid of her accent, stating, “I’ve been here for 16 years but I can’t get rid of my accent.” She attributed the problem to being too old and said her accent is getting “worse and worse” the longer she stays.
According to her IMDB trivia page, Vergara is also a natural blonde who dyed her hair darker to look like a stereotypical Latin so she would get more roles. Based on her success, this seems to be working for her professionally which goes to show that having a strong accent may not always be a bad thing.
Other actors who are known for strong accents include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz. It seems their accent has been worked into their image and losing might be detrimental to their career.
So are there certain situations where having an accent can actually help? Would you encourage these actors to try to lose their accents? Why or why not?