He helped some of the most famous actors and actresses deliver the lines we loved. On March 3rd, 2011, we lost a brilliant dialect and speech coach. At just 57-years-old, Sam Chwat died of Lymphoma.
He could help anyone hone and refine their message. He helped Julia Roberts lose her Georgia accent and Robert De Niro lose his New Yorker sound and gain an Appalachian one for the movie Cape Fear. This was all accomplished through the Sam Chwat Speech Center in Manhatten.
Chwat told National Public Radio a while ago: “People are listening to how they say their words instead of what they’re saying. This could be deadly if you’re doing a commercial. It could be deadly if you’re giving a business presentation.”
Chwat also went into detail with NPR on working with De Niro. “We worked very hard and long on that one, and [De Niro] did beautifully,” Chwat said. “What you’re hearing [in Cape Fear] is mostly vowels that are changed. For example, instead of family, you’re hearing a more nasal sound in the ‘a.’ Instead of the vowel ‘i,’ which never exists in any part of the South, you have [the sound] ‘ah.’ These are some of the changes that we went through, word for word, in the script and all through the shooting.”
Chwat also worked with regional news anchors to develop what he called “unremarkable ways of speech.”
He employed six speech therapists and drilled clients on their phrasing and conversational speech, making sure they knew how to self-correct themselves midsentence. He told NPR he advised all of his clients to smile naturally while talking.”[If] you use your face while you are speaking, [you] reduce the monotone effect that some people have where their voice is very, very flat,” he said. “If we help [clients] throw in a smile or some facial flexibility, their voices will sound more colorful and more interesting and more pleasing to listen to.”
So throw in a smile as Sam said, it will brighten your speech.