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Actor Jobs | Actor Careers | Auditions and Casting



Page updated 4/18/2015

Actor Jobs | Actor Careers | Auditions and Casting

Actors and actresses express ideas and play characters in film, movies, TV, and other performing media. They work at theme parks from time to time as well. They interpret and memorize writer’s scripts to entertain audiences.                    

Actor Job Duties

  • Read scripts and meet with agents before accepting acting roles
  • Audition in front of casting crews, directors and producers
  • Research a character’s personal traits to portray them more authentically
  • Memorize lines for shows and gigs
  • Rehearse lines including movements on stage or in front of a camera
  • Talk over their role with the director and peer actors to improve performance
  • Follow a director’s directions and instruction
  • Most actors struggle to find steady employment
  • Few actors and actresses achieve fame or recognition as stars
  • Actors can work as extras which typically appear on screen with no lines to deliver
  • Some do voiceover or narration for animated features, movies, audiobooks, or other media.
  • actors can have long periods of unemployment between roles and may need other jobs to make a living
  • Some actors instruct acting classes to supplement their income

Working Environment for Actors and Actresses

Most actors work under pressure and are often under stress to find that next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months.  Actors often hold another job to make a living. While working on location for a film or TV show, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions which can include bad weather or wearing uncomfortable costumes.

Working Schedules

Hours for actors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work can be common. Few actors / actresses work full time, and many have changing schedules. Theater actors may travel with a touring show. Film and TV actors may travel to work as well.

Actors typically perform acting in movies, on stage, or on television.

Actor and Actress Education and Training

Actors may enhance their skills through dramatic schooling and education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees.  A degree may not always be required. Some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, but most acquire formal prep through an acting conservatory or a university drama program. Students can take college classes in drama to prepare for an acting career.

Actors without a college degree can take acting or film classes to learn their field. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private schools typically offer acting classes. Theater companies may also have education programs. A Bachelor's degree in theater is becoming more common in this industry.

Important Qualities

  • Creativity. Actors interpret a characters feelings in order to play the characters in a proper and compelling way.
  • Memorization skills. Actors memorize lines before the filming starts or a gig opens. TV actors often appear on camera with little or no time to memorize scripts due to late revisions.
  • Persistence. Actors audition for roles before taking or getting a job.
  • Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough shape to deal with heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of costumes. They tend to work long hours including acting in more than one performance a day at times.
  • Reading skills. When reading for roles, actors may need to learn many scripts and must be able to interpret  a character.
  • Speaking skills. Actors must be able to say lines clearly and project their voice.

Actor Training

It could takes numerous years of practice to develop acting skills. They work to improve their skills through their acting career. Many actors train through workshops or mentoring by drama coaches.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each role. For ex: a role may require learning to sing or dance or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent.  They may need to learn to play a musical instrument or a sport. Many aspiring actors participate in high school, college, and local plays. In TV and movies, actors usually start out in small roles or independent movies.

Advancement in Acting

As an actor’s reputation grows, They may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious roles and venues. Some actors try to become producers and directors.

Average Pay for Actors and Actresses

The median hourly earnings for actors was $20.26 in May '12. The lowest 10 % earned less than $8.92, and the top 10 % earned more than $90 in May 2012.

Actor Union Membership

Compared with workers in other occupations, actors had a higher percentage of union membership in 2012. Many movie and TV actors join Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA).  Stage actors may join the Actors Equity Association. Union membership may help actors receive bigger parts and more money, but dues can get expensive.

Job Outlook

Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 % from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average growth for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued demand for new films and TV shows.

New content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, may lead to more work for actors in the future. These delivery methods are still in their early stages, and it remains to be seen how successful they will become.

Actors in performing arts companies are expected to see somewhat slower job growth than those in film and movies. Many small and medium theaters have difficulty getting funding. The number of performances is expected to decline. Larger theaters should provide more opportunities. 

Job Prospects for Actors

Actors face intense competition. Most roles have many actors auditioning. For stage roles actors with a bachelor’s degree in theater may have a better chance to get the role than those without one.

Actor Job Postings and Listings

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