Vintage map

Browse all

From Sofia Vergara to Priyanka Chopra: Who Are the Stars Discriminated Against for Their Accent

On the International Mother Language Day, we tackle the issue of accentism

From Sofia Vergara to Priyanka Chopra: Who Are the Stars Discriminated Against for Their Accent On the International Mother Language Day, we tackle the issue of accentism

The discussion often revolves around privileges, such as Pretty Privilege, linked to a favorable aesthetic appearance, or Male Privilege, a remnant of patriarchy that continues to provide men with more opportunities and benefits than those allocated to women.

What is accentism, discrimination based on accent

A recent 2022 study conducted by the Sutton Trust - an educational charity in the UK - indicates that discrimination based on accent (or accentism) exists and is still a widespread issue. The study examined the experiences of 17-18-year-old university applicants, 18-21-year-old university students, and 21-24-year-old young professionals confirming their disadvantage as non-native English speakers.

What can be done to counter accentism?

To overcome this type of discrimination, a multi-faceted approach is necessary, emphasizing the need for greater awareness of the problem. Those with a native accent often are unaware of the pervasive biases faced by those with a foreign accent: this also happens in the world of celebrities.

Sofia Vergara and the numerous times she has been targeted

Sofia Vergara and the numerous times she has been targeted. An example we have all heard of by now, thanks to dedicated TikTok videos, revolves around Sofia Vergara. The Colombian actress and producer, who achieved success in the role of Gloria in Modern Family, is no stranger to television mockery based on her accent considered "funny." The latest incident dates back to January 2024: in a recent interview on the Spanish talk show “El Hormiguero” hosted by Pablo Motos, Vergara, who has shown her ability to defend herself before, responded assertively to the interviewer who teased her for "speaking English better than her." Pablo Motos mentioned her participation in Modern Family and asked, "How do you pronounce it?" referring to the TV series title. "Do I say it wrong? Oh, because you speak English better than me?" the actress retorted before delivering the final blow, adding, "How many Emmy nominations have you had in the United States? How many times have you been nominated for a Golden Globe?".

This kind of "humor" is not new, and in the last months of 2023, Vergara fell victim to yet another incident, always under this aspect. During an episode of her podcast "Namaste B$tches", "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice recalled a moment in 2017 when Vergara allegedly declined a photo. While telling the story, Giudice imitated Vergara's Colombian accent, claiming that she should have behaved "kindly" and "humble" because she's an "immigrant." Several fans on social media criticized the reality star - whose parents are immigrants from Italy - since she uttered the controversial phrase.

Other examples of accentism in Hollywood

The fact that Priyanka Chopra is so active on social media is great for her fans and bad news for comedians trying to make fun of her. In 2018, Tanmay Bhat, also an Indian comedian who has been involved in various controversies for being not very politically correct, targeted Chopra precisely for her accent.

The actress already knows what it feels like not to fit into America. As a teenager with an Indian accent, she spent four years living with her family and going to school where she was a victim of racial bullying. The most terrible story she told was a phone call from her agent after shooting Quantico, for which she became the first South Asian actress to win a People's Choice Award. "I was asked not to participate in a film because I was too ethnic."

The issue is not only abroad: Italy

It was Sanremo 2017, Mika returned to the Ariston stage after first stepping onto it 10 years ago when he appeared before the Italian public. During the evening, there were exchanges, albeit peaceful, with Carlo Conti who teased him for his Italian accent, imitating the speech à la Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Initially, the singer did not react, but then he replied to the host: "But I don't speak like that!" The web rightly sided with Mika, who - it's worth noting - fluently speaks English, French, Lebanese, Italian, studied Chinese for nine years, and manages well with Spanish and Arabic.

In conclusion, accentism remains a form of pervasive and often overlooked discrimination that deeply affects individuals on various levels, from social interactions to professional opportunities. By recognizing the negative impact of accent-related biases, we take the first step toward promoting a more inclusive society where everyone is valued for their abilities and contributions rather than their way of speaking.