Actors depict characters in stories using their voices, appearances, bodies, and gestures. They can work in movies, television, commercials, theatre, theme parks, and clubs. While working as an Actor, they perform for entertainment and informational purposes. Actors can play main characters or supporting roles, and they must audition for casting directors to land a part. They are employed by motion picture, television, theatre, and other production companies. Actors can also be hired as acting teachers by private acting schools.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Actors are required to complete.
- Finding the right agent willing to help them find auditions.
- Taking speech and acting lessons.
- Building up a network of industry contacts.
- Preparing for an audition by studying and rehearsing lines, gestures, and expressions to interpret a role:
- Conducting independent research and trying to refine the character to be played;
- auditioning in front of directors and producers; and
- competing with other actors to get the role.
- After securing a role, portraying roles in video or motion picture productions, television shows, theatre productions, radio dramas, commercials, and other productions, or perform the narration in such productions:
- Studying the script to learn about the character and memorize the speaking parts;
- memorizing and rehearsing their lines with other actors;
- improvising a role or lines if necessary;
- memorizing new lines in case the script changes;
- discussing their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show;
- following the director’s guidelines;
- performing for a live audience, in a studio, or on location for film, television, internet, and radio broadcast; and
- effectively communicating the character that they are playing to an audience, using their voice, body, actions, and reactions.
- Singing, dancing, or performing stunts as required by specific roles:
- Working under the direction of a Choreographer or any type of required coach.
- Promoting the production when necessary by giving interviews, making appearances, and attending press conferences.
- Recording voiceovers for commercials or digital/cartoon characters.
- Training and exercising to maintain the required levels of ability and fitness, in accordance with the role to be played.
- Liaising with an Agent.
- Preparing for and attending auditions.
- Learning lines and rehearsing.
- Performing in front of an audience or in a studio.
The average Actor salary is $42,033 per year or $22 per hour. This is around 1.3 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $29,000 while most experienced workers make up to $59,000. These results are based on 11 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding creativity and a strong artistic sense.
- Speaking, reading, and memorization skills, physical stamina, persistence, dedication, and patience.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to convey their interpretation of the character to the audience, as well as excellent listening skills, so as to comply with the director’s instructions;
- being resilient and determined; and
- being able to work cohesively with other actors.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being highly responsible and reliable; and
- being always on time for auditions and rehearsals.
- Willing to take instruction and criticism and work as a team.
- Self-motivated and self-disciplined.
- Motor coordination and physical strength:
- Training and exercising in order to maintain the required levels of ability and fitness; and
- being able to rehearse 8 to 12 hours a day and having a high level of stamina in order to cope with long hours of rehearsals and learning lines.
Although Actors are not required to have a formal degree, attending a conservatoire, performing arts college, or drama school is a great way to improve their acting skills and build up a list of influential industry contacts. Going to a top drama school may improve their chances to get better audition opportunities after graduating.
Acting is a tough, taxing profession, which requires lots of hard work. In the acting profession, training is a continuous process which lasts throughout the entire career. It’s unlikely for Actors to attend acting classes further in their career, however, each day as an Actor will be a constant learning process. Furthermore, to truly thrive in this profession, Actors should always push themselves to take on new challenges, try new things, and step outside of their comfort zone. The more versatile they are, the more work they’ll find.
A career in acting and drama is likely to be characterized by numerous highs and lows and most people who work in this area supplement their existence through other occupations. Most professional Actors will find themselves out of work for long periods of time, often followed by short, but intense, periods of employment. This is likely to be the case whether they are working in television, film, or theatre. They might be able to develop a career with more stability if they opt to teach drama or become Acting Coaches.
Acting in films is often seen as the peak of an Actor’s career and for some people it is. The rewards and recognition can be huge, but getting there takes time, effort, and a little bit of luck. It’s unlikely for an Actor to get a big break straight into film without any previous acting experience. Television companies employ a large number of actors, from extras to regulars in sitcoms, and soap operas. This area of acting offers a mixture of stable and unstable career prospects, but the huge number of people aspiring to work in television means that the competition is extremely fierce. On the other hand, some larger theatres offer a wealth of opportunities and often better job stability, with actors working on fixed-term contracts.
In Canada, Actors are encouraged to join a union, in this case, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) in order to receive benefits, an equitable compensation, and to ensure safe and reasonable working conditions.
Actors are frequently self-employed for tax purposes. Consequently, many Actors employ an Accountant to keep their records up-to-date.
Finally, acting is not a typical nine-to-five job. Actors have to perform when the filming schedule demands it, or when performances are scheduled. Actors work anytime, including early mornings, evenings, late nights, weekends, and national holidays. They also work in all kinds of locations. When working in theatre, they’ll most likely be working on stage and in rehearsal studios. However, when working in television and film, they’ll work in television studios, film studios, or at random locations.