Are you an extrovert? Do you love to pretend to be someone else? Perhaps you're great at memorizing dialogue or poems. Maybe it's time to look into a career in the performing arts, such as acting. Read on to see what the acting industry entails.
An actor is a person who brings an artistic interpretation of a script or story to life by playing a character for the stage, television or movie screen. This may require intensive study of a character's traits and behaviors, as well as memorization of lines from a written script. As an actor, you may find work performing in commercials, television shows, movies, radio programs and stage productions. To be successful, you must be able to embrace a character's identity so thoroughly as to make an audience believe that you're the character and not just a person playing a part.
Because of the extreme competition for limited roles, many actors support themselves through some unrelated type of work to ensure a steady income between acting jobs. Other actors look for non-speaking parts as 'extras' while auditioning for more substantial roles. Talent, skill, creativity, physical beauty and even size may all play a part in determining whether you find employment as an actor. Additional creative skills, such as playing an instrument or having a great singing voice, may also give you an advantage in obtaining parts.
A theater arts education can prepare you for a theater job in addition to acting. Some movie actors work on both sides of the camera as actors and directors, while others have a hand in writing screenplays. Still other actors become acquainted with the business side of the industry and become producers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for actors was expected to grow slower than the average for all occupations, at a rate of 4% from 2012-2022. Acting is a highly competitive field with few actors able to work on a consistent basis for an assured salary (www.bls.gov). Due to the inconsistency of work hours for actors, wage information is difficult to ascertain. Nonetheless, the BLS cited the figure of $20.26 as the median hourly wage for actors as of May 2012.
As an actor, you must possess excellent communication skills to be able to convey meaning to an audience, sometimes with only a small gesture or look instead of words. According to the BLS, most theater actors need formal training before finding employment, though some do obtain roles through sheer talent and persistence. As an aspiring actor, experience is paramount. You may begin your career performing in high school plays or regional and local theater programs.
Bachelor degree programs and performing arts master degree programs are available. Most acting schools require you to pass an audition to be admitted to the program. Once you're admitted, expect to take classes in speech, acting, voice, singing, movement and theater history. You may even pursue a Ph.D., which would allow you to hold a faculty position in a college or university. Many of the advanced theater degree programs also train students in directing, writing screenplays and producing.