Susanne Sulby, is truly an artist among us. Residing in Lower Makefield this talented actress, writer, producer and voice and dialect coach is getting acclaim for her recent work on HBO's hit drama mini-series Mare of Easttown. The viewers are raving- specifically about those accents! Living in the Northeast, these accents aren't foreign to our ears but the rest of the country, including the cast of Saturday Night Live, have been wowed by what they referred to as very specific accents from very specific type of whites- Pennsylvania whites. Susanne Sulby was largely responsible for letting the rest of the country know what wudder is in this durder murder series. She sat down with Happenings Media to share her approval of the SNL skit, her admiration for Kate Winslet and her dialect coach Susan Hegarty, HBO, and a little bit about growing up in a Bucks County prison. Lower Makefield resident Susanne Sulby brings a creative flair to our community- offering private voice and dialect coaching to students, local politicians, radio personalities and Hollywood alike.
Behind the Scenes on HBO’s Hit Drama Mare of Easttown with Susanne Sulby
How long have you lived in Bucks County? I was born and brought home to the Bucks County prison, I'm writing a book about it. My story will be a book. I grew up in beautiful Bucks County- but in a prison. My father was the warden of the Bucks County prison. He was the last warden where you lived on the premise. Growing up, it created a lot of isolation, as you can imagine kids didn't come to my house for playdates, but that's when I fell in love with Shakespeare. Shakespeare saved me, it was a complete escape. I've been in the area- Philly, D.C. and Bucks most of my life.
Tell us a little bit about how you find working in an artistic field and living in Bucks? Being an artist outside of the city you have to give up the immediacy of being able to walk out your door and have 30 different varying kinds of theatrical venues to go and watch, or participate in, or classes to take or teach. But I'm close enough to Philly and NY to go in and get my inspiration, or audition, or help my daughter produce her film and school projects. Then here I can host my creative friends in the arts at salons in my home.
How did you decide on the job of a dialect coach? I attended University of the Arts, and was acting but started teaching right from the very beginning in Philadelphia, where I took over my teachers classes. Then I stayed on for a decade after, where I became very good at integrating aspects of speech and making them more naturalistic. I also did a lot of voiceover work at the time. Then over the years worked as a dialect coach.
Can you speak a little bit about your recent work on the HBO hit show Mare of Easttown? What was the best part of this gig? The best part was the talent. I got to witness so many fantastic well known and up and coming talented actors. Also the generosity of Kate's long time dialect coach, Susan Hegarty. She was amazing and so generous to me, as this was a very overwhelming and demanding project because of the sheer size of it. I probably spoke to and worked with 60- 80 people. The film industry is incredibly demanding. I cannot tell you how much respect I have for all of the people who work in the industry. Actors have to get there before everyone else and stay after everyone leaves, then prepare in between. Often we are shooting out of order and it's extremely demanding. It's hard to coach people right before they go on, so myself and the series regular dialect coaches meet with performers well in advance and work with them after hours to build a new experience of language to build a new dialect. The thing that's important is the performance- not the dialect. Our dialect, The Northern Mid- Atlantic accent, is very difficult to learn bc it's a mix of southern and northern dialects. It's such a mix of sounds and if you are not from this area you don't have a reference for it.
Did you see the SNL Skit? and what did you think of it? It was so good, it was so perfect! I wish they'd make it a whole series.
Where else can readers view your work?
21 Bridges, Silver Linings Playbook
What services do you offer beyond the film industry?
I work with individuals or groups seeking training in Linklater voice, speech (gaining or softening an accent) or acting, privately or in class settings.
Interested in inquiring about Susanne's services? Head to www.susannesulby.com or email direct to [email protected].
Photo from Susanne's performance in American Sligo at New City Stages.