Hi, I'm Jennifer
"STATELESS": Co-produced/created by Cate Blanchett
Part of my job as the Dialect Coach was coaching Yvonne Strahovski for her leading role as Sofie Werner. Yvonne and I have known each other for 20 years since I was her dialect tutor at drama school so it was an utter joy to work together again.
CHARACTER & DIALECT BACKGROUND
As some background, "Stateless" is based on true stories and Yvonne's character Sofie is inspired by the real-life story of Cornelia Rau. Rau was a German-born citizen and permanent Australian resident from early childhood who suffered . Her story came to the public eye when it was discovered she had been unlawfully detained in a detention centre after discharging herself from an Australian hospital and identifying herself as a German tourist who had lost her passport.
The role of Sofie echoes that story, showing her trying to escape from her struggles with mental health by running away from family and work pressures and the traumas of a cult she became involved with. Sofie is stopped for questioning and passes herself off as a German backpacker named Eva Hoffman who has lost her passport.
In pre-production, we had access to watch an investigation documentary into the detention centre system which featured footage of Rau. Her accent was inconsistent and went in and out of her 'put on German accent' and her real Australian voice, particularly when she became emotional and distressed.
Several people have asked me about Sofie/Eva's accent so this post is to help clarify those interests.
I hope this helps to clarify Yvonne’s dialect as Eva for those curious about it. It was designed both in coaching and performance to echo Sofie Werner’s true state ... that of an Australian woman with a mental illness who has German parents but does not speak the language fluently and has Australian vocal traits creep in when emotional and distressed. These echo the story and footage of Cornelia Rau.
J E N N I F E R W H I T E
I'm spending a joyous few months teaching at Australia's renowned National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney.
I teach on two of their full time degrees - with the 3rd Year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) students and the Masters of Fine Arts (Voice) students, as well as on two part time diploma courses - the Diploma of Stage & Screen Performance and the Diploma of Music Theatre.
In October 2018, I'd just wrapped ADR work on the animated film "Wonder Park" for Paramount Pictures, and I was asked by Goalpost Pictures if I would be the Dialect Coach on their film that was about to shoot in Sydney. As soon as I heard the synopsis, it was a heartfelt YES!
The film was "I Am Woman", directed by Unjoo Moon, and it's the story of Australian singer Helen Reddy.
In 1966, Helen landed in New York with her three-year-old daughter, a suitcase and $230 in her pocket. Within weeks she was broke.
"Jennifer White is the consummate professional in all areas of her work. She approaches her coaching with extreme detail and finesse and has an abundant knowledge of all things dialect coaching. I have known Jennifer for many, many years and absolutely trust her to take on any dialect and relay the information with precision and ease. I have been lucky enough to have both been taught by Jennifer in dialects at drama school at the start of my career and worked with her professionally in the industry, and I highly recommend working with her."
"When I was cast in Clint Eastwood's film "J. Edgar" as a German who'd spent eight years in the Bronx, I knew I'd need a pretty amazing dialect coach to help me pull it off! Jennifer came highly recommended and she did not disappoint. Not only does she make you feel completely at ease, but her attention to detail; her research; her ear for accents; her ability for not only hearing but speaking accents - are all second to none. Could not have done it without her."
"The first thing I do when I land a gig or a screen test is pick up the phone and dial the masterful Jennifer White. Jennifer has a gift, and that gift is genuine love and passion for artists and their lifelong journey discovering their craft. Be it a dialect session or discovering a character's voice, Jennifer brings an infectious joy and humility that cuts right through any self doubt, giving us the tools to be the best we can be ... and believe it!!!! I have grown as a man and as an actor since meeting this incredible woman and am honoured to call her a friend."
"I worked with Jennifer on creating an English accent for my character on 'A Place To Call Home'. I absolutely loved Jennifer's approach, which not only helped me to perfect the dialect, but was key in creating, developing and fully inhabiting the voice of my character. Because of her acting background, and her finely attuned intuition, Jennifer has an ability to organically guide you into the sounds, melody and feel of the dialect, so that it creeps up on you, until you suddenly find that you have it - no effort, no strain, almost by osmosis! I would highly recommend Jennifer and look forward to working with her again."
"I found her to be a very thorough and proficient teacher with a positive and friendly manner. She not only gives clear and constructive information and feedback, but also integrates the dialect with work on the character itself, which I found to be enormously helpful. Feedback from the production team was very positive. They thought the accent was flawless and perfectly suited to the character. As a dialect coach I can't recommend her highly enough, and have already done so to anyone who asks."
"Before working with Jennifer I had little confidence in taking on an accent. Within a few short sessions however, she had demystified the entire process whilst providing positive and supportive guidance every step of the way. This was fundamental. Each tiny step was encouraged. My confidence grew rapidly as we progressed. Jennifer not only assisted me with the accent, but with my character's speech patterns in general which lead to important cultural and thematic discoveries. By the time cameras rolled, I felt so confident in my preparation I barely realised I was employing an accent at all. I was simply "being" - and that is the mark of being prepared by a great coach. Thanks Jennifer!"
Thrilled that "Stateless" started airing last night on ABC TV.
It's the 6 part TV drama series that I worked on in 2019 as Dialect Coach. Directed by Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse, the series is co-produced/created by Cate Blanchett with producers Matchbox Pictures, Dirty Films and ABC TV at the helm.
The formidable cast includes Yvonne Strahovski, Cate Blanchett, Dominic West, Asher Keddie, Fayssal Bazzi, Jai Courtney, Marta Dusseldorp and Darren Gilshenan.
"I have known Jennifer White both professionally and personally for over thirteen years.
She is always incredibly helpful on both big commercial productions when we have had detailed rehearsal periods and last minute sessions for auditions.
A number of roles I have booked are owed to my work with Jennifer. I cannot recommend her enough."
"I have worked with Ms Jennifer White a few times over the years. On the Rocky Horror show in 2008 and most recently on the voice and delivery of the iconic Englishman Quentin Crisp. On this production of The Resident Alien, I worked with Ms White privately one on one. She not only helped me find the way into speaking like Mr Crisp, but also helped me into understanding the cultural delivery of a man who existed outside my living time frame.
Working with her was one of the most enjoyable and educational experiences of my long career. Playing such a known figure from history with such a specific way of speaking was totally daunting and challenging for me at the outset but Ms White gave me all the tools and the production was a success and has toured nationally to wide acclaim across Australia.
I owe Ms Jennifer White a huge debt of thanks for her patience, her wonderful teaching skills, her warmth, her humour and above all her generosity. I cannot recommend her enough!!!!!!!"
Some shows come along as a Dialect Coach that are a beautiful gift from start to finish.
Today I started work as Dialect Consultant for the musical "The Bridges of Madison County" at the Hayes Theatre Company here in Sydney. My dear friend Neil Gooding is directing, and co-producing with Matthew Henderson.
Neil and I have known each other for 20 years since I acted in the first show of his production company back in 2000. It was the Stephen Sondheim musical "Assassins" and I played Sara Jane Moore, alongside my actor friends James Millar and Luke Joslin.
Today's Day 1 of teaching a group of 3rd Year acting degree students in the art of voice-overs and I'm so looking forward to it!
Before I became a coach, I worked for nearly 20 years as a professional actor, musical theatre singer and a voice-overs artist. I was the voice of brands including NRMA, AMP, Kennards Hire, Prouds Jewellers and many more so it's a joy to pass on the knowledge and experience I've gleaned in the booth and behind the mic.
Dialect & Voice Coach
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