I grew up in Rock Ferry Wirral and in the 70s my family witnessed a murder. Not long after that, I was diagnosed with speech problems, hyperactivity, and lack of coordination. I was from a working-class background. I was then sent to a hospital in about 1972 and placed in a restraint jacket. However, my mum and dad were entertainers, and because my education suffered, I decided to go back to college at the age of 19 years.
I discovered Shakespeare and decided that I wanted to go to drama school. A gentleman called Ron took me under his wing and helped me with my speech and voice. I wanted to work professionally as an actor and made a decision to lose my accent in the hope that I could do Shakespeare.
After years of auditioning and rejections, I finally got into Richmond Drama School. I had a great voice teacher there who helped to refine my voice, but we were also encouraged to keep our accent and learn RP to use when we needed to. I had by then already lost mine. I was awarded an Oxford Diploma in acting. I did not know about Northern Broadsides until years later and understand that many actors enjoy Shakespeare with an accent rather than RP. It's a choice.
I do revert to my local accent on occasions for a part. To my knowledge, many actors were encouraged to refine their accent, but some felt it wasn't necessary. Michael Caine chose to keep his Cockney accent to make a statement about England's class system. It was to encourage other people from working class backgrounds to say that they could (succeed). Today many actors have succeeded with their accents. I do feel, however, that certain roes lend themselves to RP ( Standard English). That's just a personal opinion. I still on occasions use my local Rock Ferry accent for roles, but I have always played the Shakespeare roles with my RP apart from Shakespearian characters, which were funny with a Northern accent and worked well.
I had always wanted to play the classical roles as an actor and I did try with my local accent, but for me, it did not feel right. At Richmond Drama School (Tom Hardy also went here) we were encouraged to keep our accents and learn RP to use when it was necessary. I wrote my autobiography in 2008. So does losing your accent mean you will succeed much more in life or not? It is a good question.
Just as a P.S: Should you lose your accent is a valuable question. But what about your name? "What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;" Romeo and Juliet. Names are interesting. Think of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tom Cruise. They sound like acting names, don't they? When I started out as an actor, I couldn't use my name with British Equity so I had to use either Christopher Paris or Christopher Eton. I started to use Christopher Eton.
However, it wasn't me. My wife and I agreed that I should use my own name, but as mentioned, Equity would not let me. The name POWER derived from the Old French word "Povre" which comes from the Latin word, meaning "Pauper." How interesting. But we are of Irish descent and my Grandmother was born in Ireland. I heard last year and I will need to research this, have connections with Tyrone Power, but I cant say that's true at present. It is interesting when you type in your name into Google how many many faces are shown with your name.
With my late dad naming me after Count Dracula Christopher Lee, I decided to go back to Equity and they finally agreed for me to use Christopher Lee-Power. I know I have mentioned this before, but I am fascinated with names and where we etymologically derived from. I also know that the Powers were involved in the Battle of Hastings. Names are interesting, and certainly your acting name.