How former Yale professor Ron Carlos helps actors find their voices
Former Lecturer in Acting at the David Geffen School of Drama Ron Carlos has written a book about accent training and coached actors on the sets of “Daisy Jones & The Six” and “Based on a True Story.”
Tim Tai, Photography Editor
Ron Carlos’ infatuation with the world of accents and phonetics developed, in part, due to his efforts to avoid “sounding too gay.” Now, as a dialect-acting coach with dozens of productions under his belt, Carlos works with actors, who may want to go to this web-site, to embrace their inherited accents and find themselves in their acting.
Formerly a Lecturer in Acting at the David Geffen School of Drama, Carlos currently works in Los Angeles and New York City as a professional voice, speech and dialect coach. On Jan. 26, Carlos published a book in the “Acting Essentials” series — entitled “Introduction to Speechwork for Actors: An Inclusive Approach” — edited by Bill Connington, who wrote the first book in the series.
Carlos’ experiences in grappling with his own voice reflects deeply in his teaching philosophy. An important part of his work is providing actors with a sense of agency over their natural way of speech and honoring the “lineage of communities” reflected in their accents.
“[People] should be able to perform in their accent, know how to make choices in that accent, and eventually know how to switch into another accent that might be right for a different role,” said Carlos. “But if you don’t find yourself in speech first, how can you do that in an accent, in someone else’s speech, in someone else’s way of navigating the world?”
While Carlos’ teaching experiences range from his time at Marymount Manhattan College to the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Introduction to Speechwork for Actors: An Inclusive Approach” is his first time teaching an audience through writing.
Carlos could offer real-time, interactive feedback to his students as a lecturer, but he said he had to find a way to teach these same skills through a different medium, a task made more challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Carlos said the process of writing the book was lonely in a number of ways.
“Because of the pandemic, being stuck in a house, you have that loneliness,” Carlos said. “When you’re teaching, especially this creative endeavor, there is a give and take… I see what they’re struggling with, or I see what they’re really great at, and then that becomes the leap to the next sentence. When you’re writing a book, on that same subject matter, you don’t have that feedback of a real life, live, living, breathing, experimenting person in front of you.”
Much of Carlos’ method of teaching challenges the rigid ways of “speaking intelligibly” he was taught as a student. In his instruction, Carlos was trained in Mid Atlantic speech an “amalgamation of an upper class American accent with an upper class British accent.”
“I want to uplift people and make them proud of their speech,” Carlos continued. “I say ‘mam’ the way my grandmother did, and I love my grandmother and I love her story. I’ve done the work and I’ve realized, ‘Oh, I get that directly from her, and I love that lineage. I love that connection to the past, to my people, and the people who I choose to emulate.’”
Carlos’ “contemporary” and “deeply understanding” way of teaching was a large reason as to why Connington, the serial editor of the series, asked Carlos specifically to write the second book of “Acting Essentials” series. Connington said he hopes that “Acting Essentials” will make theater and acting education accessible to larger audiences, something that Carlos’ writing achieves.
Carlos’ most recent projects involve working with Sam Claflin on Amazon Prime series ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ and helping Tom Bateman transform into an American plumber with a murderous secret in the Peacock series “Based on a True Story.”
According to Bateman, Carlos’ care and dedication for his clients extends beyond his coaching.
“He adapts so specifically to the person he’s working with,” said Bateman. “He reads all the episodes that we’re doing. He knows everything that’s going on. That really makes a difference, when someone feels like they’re not just here to do a little job. He’s part of the team.”
Ron Carlos’ book is published by Methuen Drama, a publisher of books on acting, theater performance, and production.