I was privileged enough to hear the wonderful Fiona Ramsay talk about her career and the work that she does. Now I must admit when I heard the topic of the lecture I thought it was going to be a discussion on some airy fairy part of using ones voice. I did not expect that it would be as informative and captivating as it turned out to be.
Fiona Ramsay is one of South Africa’s most successful actresses. However she is not only a wonderful actress but she is a fantastic public speaker. On top of her large list of TV, film and theater credits, she is the founder of the Speak Easy vocal training academy. Her speciality is voice and accent training. I for one am terrible at accents. I have never understood how people can sound completely American and in the next minute can be completely italian.
This is what Fiona addressed in her lecturer. She explained how the way in which one holds their mouth is the key to finding different accents. Together with sound placement and breathing, one can learn to speak in any accent they choose. She showed us many examples of different accents and shared personal stories which were so interesting. Being a film student, listening to her speak about famous film sets that she has been a part of was so exciting. I kept thinking to myself how fantastic it must be to be rubbing shoulders with actors like Orlando Bloom and Charlize Theron (another successful South African actress)
What makes Fiona such a interesting person to listen to, is how she finds the comedy within the stereotypes of different people and breaks it down to show how people work. She takes the typical american accent and breaks it down to explain why Americans talk the way they do. She explains how it is a combination of geographic placement, surroundings, occupation, lifestyle, upbringing and many other factors that contribute to ones accent. You do not just speak the way you speak because it is what you hear but rather you use the way you talk to expose your story.
I always feel a sense of hope when I hear stories of South African people, just like me, who have managed to be successful and stick with their passion. Especially when that passion involves the arts. There are so many skeptics out there who still believe that one cannot make a living from working in the arts. While it might be extremely difficult, it is always possible and this is why I love hearing from people like Fiona about the entertainment industry. I really loved hearing from such a inspirational person and I intend to use the knowledge that I now have about ones voice.