The Accent on the Accent

Who: Andrea Friedman
Age: Late 30s
City: New York, NY
Profession: Ad Agency Personnel

Can one’s accent bring in more revenue? It caught my attention, that’s for sure. Well, Andrea’s accent caught mine at the same time that mine caught her’s. “You tell me first,” she says with an inquisitive smile. “I’m part Australian.” She nods her head, “I thought so. People think I’m Australian too.” “Well…” I ask. “South African.” Hmm…yes. Subtle differences to the Australian, but usually only insiders can tell. And yet, even after 20 years of living in New York, not much in Andrea’s accent has changed. If anything, it’s only brought in more work.

“I know it sounds crazy but it’s true.” Andrea who’s Caucasian, mid-height, toned and with the bluest of eyes; works in an ad agency in midtown. For the past ten years, she’s been managing three big clients, “and even with the recession, I’ve been blessed.” “You think it has to do with your accent,” I ask. “I don’t know, but it keeps potential clients on the phone longer and I book work as a result. My accent welcomes other topics, which is a great skill to have. The moment you can chat about pets and travel and family, the better chance of them becoming my client.” That’s fascinating, I think. “It’s funny, men tend to start flirting with me over the initial phone call immediately, which at first I didn’t know how to deal with but I’ve gotten use to it. I think they think: accent = pretty girl.” And she is, but that’s beside the point.

And then I wonder how can an accent stay so strong? “Do you make it a conscious choice to maintain your accent?” Andrea looks out the window facing 19th St and thinks for a significant moment. “I never thought about it before. Um…” I look at her, since the question seemed to have knocked her over the head, unbeknownst. “Maybe,” she chuckles, “I don’t know. I guess. Yeah, maybe.” I smile and stare out at the human traffic on 19th Street as well.

Whatever gets money into one’s pocket…tricks of the trade.