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In this question and answer at scifi.stackexchange, it is shown that Jennifer Lien used an accent with features of a typical Chicago accent early in her career, in 1991 (see

, in a segment at the opening and in another segment around the 9:45 mark).

However, in Voyager, and The Critic (see

at 3:57 and onward, for example), and in all roles I can find since that time, she uses an accent that "in fact seems to be going the opposite."

Why did she make this change?


I am notified that this is duplicating my other question, and asked to explain how this question is different. This is supposed to be asking the opposite question because the other question was asking too generally and required statistical evidence. This question is supposed to be focused on a single actor's reasons.

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    Does this answer your question? Why actors change their accents long-term?
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 21 at 9:30
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    @Chenmunka no, that was my own question that is closed and joachim said I should ask this way instead.
    – user96544
    Jul 21 at 9:32
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    Same as the comments previously suggested - it's common to adopt an accent that is less 'regional' & more generic. Historically it has tended to appeal to a wider audience & avoid typecasting.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 21 at 9:37
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    @user133469 <eye-rolling-emoticon>
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 21 at 9:41
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    Regarding the difficulty surrounding your questions: Just because you’re curious about some thing and it’s related to movies or TV in some way doesn’t mean it’s definitely a good fit for this community. For better or worse, Stack Exchange is a popularity contest for knowledge, and the knowledge you’re asking about here is just not that popular. I think because it’s not very significant and also kind of obvious. It doesn’t come across as an interesting or edifying question to most users here. Hopefully you are happy with the answers you’ve gotten at this point. Jul 21 at 12:35

2 Answers 2

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Why doesn't make for a good question, because each person's decision may be their own & apply to no-one else.

Let me answer from a UK perspective, because that's the one I know best.
The UK has in the space of a few hundred miles, accents which are almost mutually unintelligible.

Back when TV was young, the only way to work in TV was to have one specific accent, known as RP, Received Pronunciation. No RP, no job.
This forced anyone wanting to go into the industry to learn how to speak that way. This applied to theatre too.

In the late 50's and 60's the advent of the British Kitchen Sink drama brought realistic regional accents to the fore. For the first time, local accents gained popularity.
Shows such as Coronation Street - which has been running without break from 1960 to present day, brought the Manchester/Lancashire accent to the fore. By the 80's shows such as Auf Wiedersehen Pet made loud statements about the 'acceptability' of heavy regional accents all brought together in one show. I have played early episodes of this to American friends who cannot comprehend more than a few words from some of the characters.

Many actors learn whilst quite young to be able to adopt several accents on demand. e.g Bob Hoskins early work is entirely Cockney London, many people who saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit were unaware at the time that he wasn't American.
Others either trained a single more generic accent or stuck to their own.
More and more actors are learning more and more accents. Sometimes you can get so used to an accent as they present for a show, that you forget that's not where they come from.

Some that spring to mind - Chris Hemsworth, Australian; Russel Crowe, NZ [though Aus accent]; Michael Sheen, Christian Bale, Anthony Hopkins, Welsh; Richard Madden, David Tennant, Scottish; [& just for my own savage amusement, Kit Harrington, 'London' (really because his 'Yorkshire' accent in Game of Thrones was terrible)])

From comments, an actor that changed their accent and almost always uses that change - Patrick Stewart, RP, originally Yorkshire. [He has done parts in his native accent but isn't generally known for it, nor does he appear to speak in it in interviews etc.]

So, it's still up to each actor. Some change to one single more 'acceptable' accent; others flit between several on demand; still others stick to their native accent always. Examples, again from Game of Thrones, Sean Bean and Mark Addy, both native Yorkshire accents.

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Her character in Voyager is an alien from a very distant planet that has never encountered humans before. It would harm the willing suspension of disbelief for such a character to have a Chicago accent.

Her character in The Critic is supposed to be sultry and seductive, and most people would find a Chicago accent to distract from that.

Regarding the accent early in her career; those roles did not seem to suggest or require any particular accent or lack of accent. In fact, a bit of a Chicago accent lends an American character a bit of verisimilitude. There was a time when actors in the US were expected/encouraged/required to have a very neutral accent, which meant everyone sounded almost the same (see the movie Singin’ in the Rain). These days, a mild accent can help distinguish characters, as long as it’s not too thick or inappropriate.

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