Actor Job Description, Skills and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an actor. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an actor.
Who is an Actor?
The entertainment industry is fascinating yet one of the most burgeoning industries in the world. Several reasons or factors are responsible for the gigantic growth witnessed in the entertainment industry over time; among which is the brilliant works of the acting sub-sector and actors. Acting has been identified as a brilliant profession; arguably, the world would be a boring place without it. Are you a budding thespian? Do you love acting? Do you appreciate and crave the sound of applause? Are you waiting in the wings for a perfect career in acting? Do you know the difference between upstage and downstage? Have you harbored dreams of becoming the next big thing in acting? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you should probably keep reading. Who knows? The overview, job description, qualification, and so on you are about to be introduced to can make you start or improve your career as an actor. Simply, an actor is a performer that works across different platforms or media such as radio, television, theatre, and film. Actors do voice notes for animated projects, record audiobooks, and act on television commercials.
Essentially, an actor is defined as an individual or person that portrays a character in a performance. Actors read scripts, interpret their roles, and try to perfect the art. The art of acting or an actor’s interpretation of a character pertains to the role played whether based on a fictional character or a real person. An actor is an important cog in the success of a movie, film, documentary, or commercial. Some actors play themselves, especially in experimental performance art. Primarily, an actor uses his voice, reaction, body, and action to communicate or relay the character they are playing to an audience. Also, they make people think, tell stories, and engender emotional reactions in their audience through their art. When actors pretend to be somebody else, they trick people to believe that the character is real. Generally, actors have been identified as great influencers; they stimulate trends, emotions, and critical discussions. Although talent is required to succeed as an actor in this cut-throat sector, hard work, constant rehearsal, learning your lines relentlessly, and steadfastness are non-negotiable. Moreover, acting has unanimously been tagged as a tasking and demanding profession; hence, the actor is continuously seeking ways to improve, perfect the art, and adjust to changing schedules.
Furthermore, most actors conduct independent research, take acting and speech classes, and try to refine the character they are portraying or playing. Sometimes, an actor might be asked to promote the productions they are working on through television appearances and interviews. At the early stage of most actors’ careers; they spend lots of time sourcing for an agent or representative, building a network of industry contacts, and attending auditions. Consequently, an actor must be flexible enough to read from cue cards, create a performance that suits the contracted task, and remember lines. Depending on the role or film, an actor might be required to modulate speech, sing, or dance. Although it is not a gender-based term (both females and males can be called actors), the word is often synonymous with males. Usually, an actor works full-time only when they are part of a long-running stage production or have a regular role in a television series. The actor’s work schedules vary based on the acting project and the needs of a scene. They may work at odd hours as well depending on the shooting schedules. This requires effective collaboration with directors, other actors, and the entire members of the production team.
Additionally, the actors’ role has evolved to include therapy, education, and training in conjunction with providing entertainment. In relation, certain personal requirements are essential for an actor including determination and commitment, good memory, self-confidence, clear speaking abilities, patience and stamina, and the ability to cope with changing atmospheric and work situations. Similarly, a successful actor maintains believability to keep the audience involved, expresses authentic emotion, and projects realistic motives often after multiple takes or at the spur of the moment. Some actors are required to undertake choreographed fighting, complex movement, or running to perfect certain roles while others might need to play musical instruments. Normally, the techniques employed by actors differ depending on the project. An actor will use different techniques when acting for the camera and live audiences. Relatively, different techniques are used when making voice notes for an animation film. Actors are categorized based on the acting medium including;
Voice actors: These are actors that predominantly work on animation movies, podcasts, video games, radio ads, and audiobooks.
Screen actors: Screen actors act in television series, commercials, films, and web series.
Stage actors: A stage actor mainly participate in stage plays, musical theatres, and drama.
Actor Job Description
Below are the actor job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write an actor job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
The acting profession is not a typical 9 am to 5 pm job; an actor is expected to perform certain duties whenever the filming or performances are scheduled. In other words, an actor must be ready and available to work anytime including holidays, weekends, late nights, evenings, and mornings. Though the role of an actor seems lucrative and professional, only determined individuals that make audiences cry, laugh, and get angry or inspired often command the headlines and recognition. Although the specific duties may differ according to the acting medium, actors are expected to perform the following general responsibilities;
- Attend auditions and casting calls: Since acting is a competitive industry or sector, an actor is often required to audition and cast for a specific role. Some perks come with auditioning and casting for roles such as the opportunity to perform and meet local directors and decision-makers. In turn, the chances of developing confidence in acting are enhanced.
- Learn more about a character and role: Actors research the particular character they are portraying to perfect their art. Also, they study the time, location, and medium of acting. For instance, an actor can read historical accounts of the Middle Ages to learn what life must have been like for the characters they portray in a medieval stage play.
- Rehearse and study scripts: All actors take time to memorize lines, rehearse stunts, and brainstorm stage direction before a stage or camera performance.
- Interpret roles through speech, body movement, and gestures to entertain or inform the audience.
- Improvise the reactions of a character to a situation.
- Entertain, express emotions, and convey characters to different audiences.
- Interpret the work of a scriptwriter with the support and instruction of a director.
- Work in live stage performances, soap operas, community theatre, or animation movies.
- Do voice-overs for advertisement and record talking books for CDs.
- Discuss interpretation and delivery of a character with other members of the production team and company.
- Use feedback from the director and team to improve performance.
- Promote productions through interviews, tours, and scoops on the play or movie.
- Collaborate with other actors as part of the ensemble to perform scenes.
- Offer suggestions to directors regarding lines, roles, or scenes where applicable.
- Travel to various locations to record or act movies as required.
- Manage the performance area, props, and costumes.
- Work as a walk-on or extra for television or film.
Although anyone can pretend, not everyone can act professionally. The goal of acting is to portray a character authentically. Most times, actors are expected to make the character sound or appear original. Also, they are required to portray their role in a way that is truthful to the character in a play, animation, movie, or television show. Although experience performing in front of audiences as well as familiarity with different acting styles is essential, other basic qualifications are required. Typically, an actor needs some form of formal education and training in other areas relative to performing. Thus, most employers seek actors with the following core qualification;
Education: Formal education for an actor doesn’t necessarily mean college or university education. Though a bachelor’s degree in theatre or performing arts or drama is a viable option, any form of education obtained through acting or film classes can suffice. Also, educational qualification in acting at a community theatre, film school, or a theatre company’s acting conservatory is acceptable as well. Any study in media, visual, and performing arts is desirable. Courses in film schools are designed to equip aspiring actors with vocational and practical training. However, more skills, contacts, and experience can be gained through postgraduate studies.
Training: Alongside acting experience, training is an important qualification for actors. Actors need to receive training on specific skills that are useful to the field. Training often involves singing and vocalization, martial arts, dance lessons, and body movement. Training acquired through workshops and private teaching is an advantage.
Practical experience: Regardless of educational background, an actor often starts by assuming roles in high school, college, university, or community productions. This exposes them to and enables them to gain the practical experience necessary to audition for bigger roles on TV, stage, or movies.
Headshot and acting resume: Most employers or companies prefer candidates with headshots and acting resumes. A headshot and/or acting resume comprise of a single photograph of the actor with a brief capability summary.
Essential Skills for an Actor
Becoming an actor can be one of the most challenging and uncertain jobs around. Navigating the entertainment industry can be a challenge especially for beginners. With relevant skills, however, an actor’s aspiration can become reality. Hard work, persistence, and dedication have been earmarked as necessary qualities for most actors. Thus, here are some of the fundamental skills an actor needs;
Memorization work: Clearly, an actor must be skilled at memorizing lines for most acting projects to excel in acting. Memorization has been reported to be the most intimidating and difficult part of acting. Fortunately, there are several memorization exercises and activities that help an actor recall their lines. Importantly, develop the habit of rereading your lines as often as possible. When rehearsing, try and refrain from referring to your script always and learn your lines at home.
Physical acting skills: An accomplished actor can deliver outstanding performances and convey meaning without dialogue. This is due to the availability and possession of physical performance skills. If used correctly, physical performance lets the audience know a lot about the character being portrayed. Physical acting skills can be developed by rehearsing in front of a mirror, dance lessons, or focusing on large or small expressions.
Teamwork: An actor must have the ability to collaborate effectively with other actors, directors, and the production team. They must be willing and ready to accept feedback, advice, and suggestions from everyone involved in the production.
Theoretical knowledge: The practical side of acting is evident when we watch performances in movies. Even so, a great deal of theoretical work has likely influenced the final performance of the movie or play. Therefore, familiarity with the theatrical trends and acting techniques used from time memorial can benefit an actor’s career.
Creativity: Scriptwriters might have an idea for what a character should be; but, an actor needs to bring it to life. To find what motivates a character, an actor needs creativity skills to come up with a backstory.
How to Become an Actor?
Actors begin their careers when they choose to learn more about the industry, develop routines that help them perform with confidence, and invest time to develop their techniques. Hence, the following is a summary of how to become an actor;
Earn an education in acting: A bachelor’s or associate degree or any form of education in acting is essential to becoming an actor after high school.
Train to become an actor: Training in acting classes and techniques is essential. Training on physical movement, memorization, instrumentation, and so on through acting classes is important.
Prepare your headshot and acting resume: Next, prepare your headshot and acting resumes to submit to casting managers or directors to be considered for a role.
Gain experience to improve your resume: Due to the growing competition in the industry, try and acquire more experience and better footage for your demo reel to include in your resume.
Hire an agent and audition for roles: After acquiring the aforementioned, hire an agent who can book you auditions for roles in movies, plays, and television shows.
Where Can an Actor Work?
Actors are employed in a range of settings including repertory companies, commercial theatre firms, and fringe theatre companies. Others include youth theatre enterprises, theatre in education companies, and drama schools. Relatively, Television, film, and radio companies also employ actors to work on specific productions. Sometimes, tour companies, museums, and heritage organizations employ actors as living history interpreters.
Actors Salary Scale
Salaries for actors vary greatly based on the role, production company, or experience. While some actors barely earn more than the minimum wage, other actors earn way above that. A breakdown of the salary scale of actors is given below;
High earning actors make a minimum of $261.74 per hour
Low-earning actors earn an estimated $29.05 per hour.
Crucially, top film and television actors are an exception to the salary scale above as they can make millions from acting projects.