Accents In Reality TV Shows That Were Total Lies
We all know that the majority of things we see on reality TV can be scripted within an inch of their lives. According to Insider, supposedly spontaneous scenes might just be staged — filmed time and time again, for example, with those in front of the camera being routinely prompted on how to act by those behind it. To put it bluntly, fakery can play a key part of the reality TV process in order to make a show that will get viewers invested in people who are often without a discernible talent.
But while you may expect what’s said to be fabricated, you probably don’t expect the sound these stars make while saying it to be. And yet over the years, a whole host of reality TV stars have tried to disguise their true accents while causing drama for entertainment’s sake. Some do it simply to gain an advantage, others to hide their roots, and then there are those who claim to be doing it subconsciously. From Real Housewives and Bachelorettes to aspiring pop stars and even the odd Hollywood actor, here’s a look at the voices that were accused of — or exposed as — being frauds on reality TV.
The Bachelor's Bri Barnes pretends to be Australian
You have to applaud Bri Barnes’ ingenuity. The Bachelor contestant truly thought outside the box when trying to trump the 29 other women who queued up to meet Colton Underwood in the 23rd season premiere: the Chino Hills, Calif. native pretended she was Australian.
“You’ve got a nice accent, where are you from?” the eligible Bachelor asked Barnes after their initial introduction (via the Daily Bulletin). “Um, the accent, it’s Australian,” the aspiring Mrs. Underwood replied. “I was hoping that you’re kind of a sucker for accents.” However, in the piece-to-camera that followed, Barnes admitted, “I’m not really Australian but you have to do what you can to stand out.”
The model, who was 24 years old at the time, managed to dupe Underwood for her entire stint on the hit ABC show. But her Aussie twang wasn’t enough to keep her in the competition for that long: she was dumped after just three weeks. Undeterred, Barnes went on to grace spin-off Bachelor in Paradise, only this time she stuck to her own Southern Californian drawl. And she was also the one doing the dumping, too. Yes, the sixth season latecomer initially accepted a rose from Bachelor Matt Donald. However, she called time on their budding relationship just 24 hours later.
Stephanie Pratt starts sounding British on The Hills: New Beginnings
Reality TV stars don’t get much more Californian than those on The Hills. … Which is why everyone was baffled when one of its most notable stars, Stephanie Pratt, suddenly sounded as British as Queen Elizabeth herself when she returned to the franchise for 2019 reboot, The Hills: New Beginnings.
Pratt soon explained to ET that the six years she’d spent living in the United Kingdom was to blame for her change in accent: “I was asking someone when I first landed, ‘Is it bad?’ and they said, ‘It’s so bad. You sound crazy.'” The socialite had also enjoyed eight seasons surrounded by very posh Londoners in Made in Chelsea, as well as appearing on other British shows, such as Celebs Go Dating and Celebrity Big Brother. And she revealed that the accent slips out more when she’s had a glass of wine or two.
While most of Pratt’s castmates appeared to find her putting early ’00s Madonna to shame rather amusing, her estranged famous brother reacted a little differently. As reported by People, while live-tweeting the premiere of The Hills: New Beginnings, Spencer Pratt commented, “Stephanie and her accent have a lot in common … they’re both fake as hell.” Miaow.
Real Housewife Dorit Kemsley claims she can speak in any accent she wants
You can always trust a Real Housewife to call someone out. And that’s exactly what Erika Girardi did when Dorit Kemsley joined the cast of the Beverly Hills spin-off for its seventh season in 2016. As reported by Us Weekly, the reality TV star wondered, like everyone else at home, why a woman born and raised in born and raised in Connecticut sounded like she hailed from the other side of the Atlantic. Still, Kemsley was so entirely unapologetic about her unlikely British twang that she even boasted about it in her tagline: “When you’ve traveled the world, you can speak in any accent you want.”
However, in a 2017 interview with The Daily Dish, Kemsley did go some way in explaining the confusion, claiming that the natural London accent of her husband — property developer Paul Kemsley — was so thick that it had rubbed off on her. The star also referred to her decade traveling to and from Europe, where she had to change how she spoke just to be understood: “I had a tendency to over enunciate, so I think at times some of my English is part that and part inflection. And you know being around a lot of Europeans and a lot of Brits, you just become a product of your environment really.”
Kemsley added, “That’s who I am. That’s the way I speak. I don’t hear it. My husband doesn’t hear it but it’s definitely become a topic of conversation.”
Lindsay Lohan goes Greek on Beach Club
Following her self-titled docuseries on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, Lindsay Lohan once again embraced the world of reality in 2019 when she opened up her beach club in Mykonos to the MTV cameras for a 12-part series. But while the former child star no doubt wanted the focus to be on her entrepreneurial spirit, viewers were more intrigued by the latest development in her ever-changing accent. But first, some history.
Just three years previously, the Mean Girls alum left everyone baffled at the opening of another Greek venture, when she debuted a pan-European accent, which W magazine described as “part-Melania Trump, part-Borat.” Having spent even more time in the country with business partner (and rumored beau) Dennis Papageorgiou since then, Lohan sounded even less like her old New York City self.
Asked about the issue while promoting the imaginatively-titled Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club on ET, the redhead replied, “Well, I think it’s because actresses even, I think when I’m around certain dialects it changes each time … and you just pick things up along the way. A little bit of New Yorker, they all start to come back.” That’s cleared that up then.
Made in Chelsea's Georgia Toffolo might not really be that posh
Of course, it’s not just American reality stars who get accused of trying to disguise their true accents. Georgia Toffolo of Made in Chelsea — essentially the UK’s answer to The Hills — shot to fame as the poshest new girl on the block. But it turns out that she might not be as high society as she presents.
In 2017, Ollie Locke talked to The Sun about his reality TV co-star’s ultimately triumphant run on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here. But he got everyone suspecting Toffolo’s true identity after revealing that her father is very much an everyman kinda character: “I know this sounds silly, but I’ve met Toff’s dad before and he’s like, ‘Alright, son, how ya doin’?’ And so you sit there and just like… I mean Toff’s persona is a lot more than what she is.”
Having potentially blown his friend’s cover, Locke then tried to claim that his words were meant as a compliment, adding, “You know what? Her character is a lot more posh than she actually is. Not in a personal way, but I think her speaking voice has become a lot more Chelsea-fied living in Chelsea, but she’s a really down, salt-of-the-earth bird.”
Honey G's hip-hop persona on The X Factor UK is reportedly an act
One of the most “divisive” stars in The X Factor UK‘s history, per The Guardian, Honey G entertained and irritated viewers in equal measure during her appearance on the 13th season of the talent show in 2016. But whatever your view of her hip-hop persona, it seemed pretty obvious that it wasn’t entirely authentic.
Just how far the contestant strayed from her real-life character appeared to be confirmed in an interview with a former college friend. Stephanie Jones told The Sun that the aspiring rapper, real name Anna Gilford, was unrecognizable from the student she knew at Salford University: “The kind of person she was was very very switched on. There was none of this urban street persona — she was … a smart student … She is actually really well spoken. She’s from a really decent background — she didn’t speak like that before.”
Gilford was backed up by another X Factor entrant who’d lost out to Honey G in a sing-off. Ryan Lawrie told This Morning that while sharing a house with the rest of the series’ aspiring pop stars, he’d noticed that the rapper’s accent would constantly shift: “The accent change[s]. It’s like, sometimes she’ll be really posh and then other times she’s like the street talk.” Despite all the controversy, Honey G still managed to finish in fifth place and release a single called “The Honey G Show” through Simon Cowell’s Syco label.
Paris Hilton confesses to faking her Valley Girl voice
Paris Hilton shot to fame on The Simple Life as the ultimate valley girl. But it turns out that the “baby voice” she used to help make her name was as fake as her hair extensions. In 2016, the reality TV star came clean in an interview on NBC’s Today. Hilton shocked the hosts when she began speaking in a much less nasal and much deeper timbre. In fact, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb struggled to believe that the heiress’ voice was genuine.
Four years later, the star reiterated that she’d simply put on her “dumb blonde” persona for the sake of entertainment in a chat with Australian morning show Sunrise. “This entire time, I have been playing a character, so the world has never really truly known who I am,” she told presenter Edwina Bartholomew. When asked why she’d decided to show her true self after all these years, Hilton replied, “I don’t want to be remembered as some airhead, I want to be respected as the businesswoman I am.”
According to the Mirror, the response on Twitter varied from the incredulous (“What in the name of God”) to the impressed (“Man, what an effort that must have been”).
Made in Chelsea's Ashley James hid her accent to stop getting bullied
Unless you knew Made in Chelsea star Ashley James before she was eight years old, it’s unlikely you’d know that her posh London accent wasn’t real. The reality TV star actually hails from Newcastle in the North of England, but changed her strong Geordie accent to fit in at boarding school.
James, who also joined the likes of R&B star Ginuwine and Drag Race alum Courtney Act on the UK’s 21st season of Celebrity Big Brother, has freely admitted to hiding her true accent. In 2018, she told The Sun, “I should have a Geordie accent — my parents have a Geordie accent. I used to get bullied for being the not posh one so I put on a fake posh accent and it’s stuck with me all these years.”
The star, who reportedly had an on/off relationship with Little Britain comedian David Walliams, might not sound like a Newcastle native anymore. However, James insisted that she’d never want to hide her background, adding, “My dad works on the motorways and my mum is a hairdresser. I’m proud of being working class.”
The X Factor's Chloe Jasmine pretends to be the 'poshest girl you could meet'
“The poshest girl you could meet.” As reported by The Sun, that’s how aspiring pop star Chloe Jasmine described herself when she auditioned for the 11th season of The X Factor UK in 2014. And she might have got away with such a boast had she not tried out for the same show eight years previously … with a completely different accent.
Jasmine sure looked she could have been a Made in Chelsea star when she rocked up to showcase her singing talent in front of Simon Cowell for the second time. But back in 2006, when she dressed in much more casual attire complete with pink cowboy hat, the wannabe sounded more working class than part of the aristocracy, per the Mirror.
However, Jasmine’s mother soon leapt to her defense once the original audition tape had been unearthed. In an interview with Wells Journal (via the Daily Mail), Denise Jasmine explained, “Everyone is fascinated by my daughter’s accent and whether it’s fake or not, but it’s definitely real. When she was about 11, she attended Tina Witham’s drama school and had speech lessons with her. That’s where the accent comes from.”
John Barrowman slips back into his Scottish accent on I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here
Viewers of the UK’s I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here were left both emotional and baffled when John Barrowman reunited with his parents upon his 2018 exit. The Torchwood star had spoken with his familiar American twang during his journey to third place on the jungle-themed reality show. But he suddenly sounded very Scottish during his tearful meeting with mom and pop.
In Barrowman’s defense, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why his accent repeatedly jumps to the other side of the Atlantic, as he explained on Lorraine (via The Scottish Sun) a year later: “When I’m with my mum and dad, my brother and sister I speak Scottish. Anybody who is Scottish I will speak with a Scottish accent, because you are privileged and also because when I was a kid when I moved to the States I was bullied. So anybody who doesn’t speak Scottish I speak with an American accent.”
Sister Carole backed up these claims in an interview with Mirror during Barrowman’s stint in the Aussie outback, describing the bullies as “unkind” and “aggressive.” She also revealed that the multi-talented entertainer couldn’t even find refuge in his drama class: “A lot of the kids couldn’t understand what he was saying. They would harass him a lot.”
The X Factor's Jedward adopt a pseudo-American accent
From the blonde quiffs drowned in hair gel to their outlandish matching jackets to what some felt was a complete inability to hold a tune or perform a dance step in time, Jedward tested even the most patient viewers of The X Factor UK‘s sixth season in 2009. But for some, the identical twin brothers’ biggest apparent crime against entertainment was their pseudo-American accent.
Indeed, despite hailing from the Irish capital of Dublin, John and Edward Grimes spoke with a faux Californian twang from the moment they first auditioned in front of a bewildered Simon Cowell. And they didn’t let it slip during the live stages, where they eventually finished in a creditable sixth place.
Of course, the excitable duo’s attempt to ape their favorite pop stars’ voices hasn’t exactly done them any harm. Since leaving the talent show, they’ve released four albums, graced numerous reality shows, and twice represented their homeland at the Eurovision Song Contest. If that wasn’t crazy enough, they’ve also become unlikely BFFs with American Pie star Tara Reid, performed for then-President Barack Obama, and have more recently reinvented themselves as outspoken social activists.
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