My First Audition: Laura Rollins – ‘Speaking with my Brummie accent gives me a sense of pride’
My first audition after drama school was for a film set in South Africa. The script was great and I was excited. I began fantasising about what it would be like if I landed the role. How would I tell my parents? How would I prepare? How hot would it be out there?
I was up for the lead role, but it required a specific accent and dialect. I don’t have a natural ear for accents. Instead, I work hard to learn where the accent is placed in the mouth and how to form the sounds. None of the usual online resources had that particular dialect, so I went to see a superb dialect coach. I remember working extra shifts at my job in a charity call centre to pay for the session.
I went to the audition feeling well prepared. I’d made some choices about the character, but not so many that I’d find it difficult to take notes. The irony was that the casting director asked me to read in my natural accent, despite the brief saying the accent would be required. This threw me, but I didn’t let on – or maybe I did. Anyway, I didn’t get the part. But I’d added a new accent to my arsenal, which I ended up using at a later date. Now, when I prepare for an audition, I make sure I rehearse in my own accent as well as whatever is requested. This has saved me numerous times, including for my current role on BBC1’s Doctors.
My accent has changed after years of living in London, through an emphasis on RP during my training and, if I’m honest, from my own fears that my Birmingham twang might hold me back in the industry. Now, on Doctors, I play a Brummie. Speaking with that voice every day really gives me a renewed sense of pride in my native accent, which is something I think every actor should have. And with prime-time dramas such as Peaky Blinders, Toast and Raised by Wolves, it seems that others agree.
CV: Laura Rollins
Training: MA in acting, Arts Educational Schools London
TV credits: Doctors (BBC)
Theatre credits: Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, Orange Tree Theatre; A Christmas Carol, Toad of Toad Hall and Pinocchio at Birmingham Rep
Agent: Sarah Barnfield at Price Gardner Management
Laura Rollins plays Ayesha Lee in Doctors. She was talking to John Byrne