Table of Contents
Actors need to possess certain skills and qualities in order to be successful:
- Skill in dramatic performance
- An ability to understand emotions and feelings
- A genuine love of the arts
Similar to a job interview, there will be many people auditioning for just one part at an audition. The difference for actors is that they constantly have to audition for parts. This means that they have to be able to cope with rejection and to learn from each experience.
Maintaining a positive attitude is important, as it will often take many auditions for an aspiring actor to get his/her first part. Being determined and dedicated will help in this situation, as attending as many auditions as possible should eventually end in a successful audition. In such an expressive career in arts and entertainment, it is often the people who are most passionate about what they are doing who are most successful.
Someone who wants to be a star only to achieve fame and fortune is unlikely to be successful. A genuine love of the arts and of performing is a necessity for anyone thinking of pursuing an acting career - this will shine through in performances and will ultimately help achieve success.
Should I become an Actor?
If you are considering becoming an actor, but aren't 100% convinced it is the right career path for you, ask yourself the following questions:
Are you confident, and are you ok with criticism?
- From the first audition through to rehearsal, criticism on performance is a huge part of the acting process. It's essential to be confident and to keep trying, despite rejection, criticism, and setbacks.
Do you have tenacity?
- Even the most successful actors face competition and rejection. Having the willpower and persistence to keep moving forward even after facing many rejections is the only way you can survive as an actor.
Are you observant and insightful?
- Actors need to be able to observe and absorb what's happening around them in the world, as well as observe human interactions and emotions. They need to be able to successfully tap into the characters they are portraying by having insight into what makes different humans tick. These abilities are essential in order for actors to connect with their work.
Are you good at reading a script and following directions?
- Being good at textual analysis, and understanding and drawing character information out of a script is a vital part of being a successful actor. Having the ability to listen and to follow directions is another big component of acting, as all actors need to work with and respect the vision of their director.
Do you enjoy working with others?
- A lot of collaboration is required during the rehearsing and performing stages, and actors need to be able to work cohesively with others in order to make it a good experience for themselves and for those around them.
Do you need to have a regular schedule?
- Unfortunately, most actors tend to have an abnormal schedule, working long days and weekends. Rehearsals and film shoots often run late into the night or start early in the morning.
Are you emotionally healthy?
- Show business can be a breeding ground for eating disorders, drug abuse, and depression. If you’re already dealing with personal issues, better to seek help first before diving into this industry.
Can you imagine yourself doing anything else?
- If you can imagine yourself doing a different job, you may not have what it takes to fully commit to acting. You have to be extremely driven to be an actor, and embrace the day to day struggles you will face. The life of an actor is incredibly competitive, and one of the hardest careers to make a living at.
Actors spend the majority of their time trying to land an acting job, working at another job to pay the bills, training, and networking. If you noticed, none of those things involved acting. The level of commitment needed to succeed, and the thick skin required to survive the constant rejection that is the actor's daily routine, are both huge.
Is your goal financial stability?
- If your goal in life is financial security, being an actor is not the best career option. You could quite literally spend the entirety of your adult life struggling to make ends meet with no hope of being able to afford retirement.
Will you spend your life acting anyway, even if you never make a cent doing it?
- The only reason to become an actor is if nothing could stop you from doing so — and in that case, do it as an amateur, or as a hobby. If you reach the point at which you are equally determined to try it professionally, then and only then should you do so.
It's important to think about what you want out of life, as there are many choices and avenues one can take. Remember that if you do decide to pursue acting as a career, it may be very difficult down the road to switch careers if you find yourself midlife still in food service and auditioning.
An alternative path is to perhaps find a way to make a living that is not acting, but will allow you to pursue acting. There's nothing wrong with acting as a hobby in local community theatre or student films. Don’t pursue acting for the fame or for the money, because you will most likely be very disappointed.
What are Actors like?
Based on our pool of users, actors tend to be predominately artistic people. Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.
Actors by Strongest Interest Archetype
Based on sample of 1067 Sokanu users
Are Actors happy?
Actors rank in the 98th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.
The acting business can get incredibly frustrating, and it’s easy to get down considering all of the rejection that comes along with it. Continually getting knocked down is difficult on the ego, and sometimes it gets harder and harder to keep getting back up and dusting yourself off. At times it may feel like everyone else except you is getting their big break, and wonder if your turn will ever come. This is the negative side of this career.
However, there is a positive side to pursuing this career as well (full-time or part-time). Actors act because they can't imagine doing anything else. It makes them happy, it drives them, and it gives them the freedom to explore themselves, both on camera and on stage. They get to play different characters, to interact with like-minded people, to let go and not worry about the consequences. For an actor, there is nothing better than walking on stage for the first time and feeling the audience respond, or saying a line on set for the first time. It is rewarding in ways that other non-creatives simply can't understand, and for most actors it’s not about the money, but about being creatively fulfilled, which is hard for non-actors to understand.
Actor Career Satisfaction by Dimension
Percentile among all careers
Steps to becoming an Actor
- Take Theatre in High School
- Get More Experience
- Get Some Education
- Build a Resume
- Get Yourself an Agent
1 Take Theatre in High School
Taking drama classes and participating in plays and musicals while in high school can introduce a student to performing, various methods of acting, and different approaches to characters. It also introduces the student to the feeling of performing in front of a live audience, and allows the development of skills and experience.
2 Get More Experience
Look at auditioning for various roles in small playhouses and theatres in your local area (even if it's as one of the extras). It will be added experience and will hone your skills, which is what matters in the long run.
3 Get Some Education
Although a university or college degree is not mandatory to succeed as an actor, education will not only hone skills, but will help aspiring performers understand what happens behind the scenes, such as business dealings and contracts. Classes may include stage production, theatre history, dance, and music. Drama programs can be found at major public and private colleges in the United States, as well as at most community colleges.
Go on auditions and work as much as possible in the acting world. Take acting workshops and get involved with small theatre companies. These types of things keep performers plugged in and provide a great environment where they can be creative and practice their craft. Also, be patient, as it can take years to get a big break.
5 Build a Resume
An aspiring actor needs to act as much as possible, and be in as many roles as possible. He or she needs to build up a resumé filled with performances that may include theatre productions, working as an extra, commercials, music videos or anything else inbetween.
6 Get Yourself an Agent
It’s time to call in the help of an agent when a bit of momentum starts to build. Agents can help actors greatly by offering them their contacts, getting them auditions, and helping them avoid rookie mistakes. Actors wanting to work with the largest theatre or movie companies will need to have an agent.
Education History of Actors
The most common degree held by actors is Drama. 9% of actors had a degree in drama before becoming actors. That is over 12 times the average across all careers. English Literature graduates are the second most common among actors, representing 3% of actors in the Sokanu user base, which is 0.7 times the average.
Actor Education History
This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming an Actor, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.
|Degree||% of actors||% of population||Multiple|
|Business Management And Administration||1.6%||5.5%||0.3×|
|Philosophy And Religious Studies||1.0%||1.3%||0.8×|
Actor Education Levels
|High school diploma||8%|
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