How to become an Actor
Actor Job Duties
Skills and Qualities needed to become an Actor
Actor Salaries
Influential Professionals in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Acting Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Actor.

There are many different ways to become an actor. Formal training in drama is one way to start on the path to acting, but it is not necessary. At times, it can seem that making it as an actor is much more dependent on who you know and how lucky you are than your formal training or talent.

For those aspiring actors who choose to pursue formal training, it can be found in university drama programs or dedicating acting schools or acting conservatories. These acting students can perform in high school and college level plays, learn different acting techniques, and even receive a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in drama.

Even those potential actors who do not major in drama in college or attend acing conservatories can take classes, either at the university level or in the community. Many classes are offered at a community level for children, youth, or adults, and sometimes in specialized areas of acting.

When an actor is trying to get exposure and experience, he or she has many options. Rather than just walking onto Broadway, most actors spend some time in much smaller and less prestigious productions first, such as skits on cruise lines or at amusement parks, or working in summer stock. Commercials are a common way for television and film actors to begin their career.

What does an Actor do?

Actors perform in front of an audience, on stage, on film, on television, or on radio productions. Many actors specialize in one type of production, such as radio or film, although there are crossovers, most frequently between film and television and stage and film.

To fully portray a character, an actor must understand the character's motivation and background, and many actors perform extensive research in order to do so. Many different methods of acting and schools of thought exist, and an actor may pick and choose to determine what is best for a particular role.

It can be extremely difficult to find steady work as an actor, and many actors spend their entire careers in supporting roles and bit parts or working as extras. Teaching is another way for actors to earn a living if they are not able to do so acting. Because of this, many actors teach drama at the high school or college level, sometimes concurrently with their own acting.

Voice actors or voice over actors are another type of actor. These actors can either perform narration or voice-overs for commercials or documentaries or lend their voices to cartoon and animated characters. Sometimes voice actors are quite famous from other work - Robin Williams is an example of a celebrated actor who does a lot of voice acting work - and other times, the voice actors are dedicated to being voice actors.

What skills or qualities do I need to get into Acting?

Actors must obviously have acting talent to be able to make a living by acting. They need creativity and versatility to be able to portray different sorts of characters. It can help an actor greatly if he or she is able to sing and dance or has other talents, as these are required in some types of acting. The ability to follow directions is essential, as actors must follow a director's leading and direction, no matter what the venue. It is also important for actors to be self-motivated, as acting work can be difficult to find and the process can get tedious and discouraging.

How much does an Actor make?

The earnings of actors are extremely varied, as extremely successful star actors make millions of dollars per movie or television show, and many other actors struggle to make a living as an extra in a theme park skit, for example. In addition, some actors act full-time while many act part-time and make a living in a different manner.

In May 2006, the median hourly wage for an actor was $11.61, much lower than many aspiring actors would like to believe. The middle fifty percent of actors in that year made in between $8.47 and $22.51 per hour. Acting unions help actors determine the minimum hourly wage that is acceptable, as well as other conditions of employment.
Actor Salary | More details for Actor Jobs | Salary

Who are some influential Actors?

Sir Sidney Poitier is an Bahamian-American actor and director who broke through many racial barriers in film. He was the first black man in the history of the Academy Awards to win an award for Best Actor. Poitier was also appointed as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, hence the honorific "Sir."

George Clooney is a more contemporary actor, and someone who takes being a public figure very seriously. A talented and accomplished performer, Clooney has won many awards and has been known to express his opinion that celebrities have the responsibility to speak out for social justice.

Audrey Hepburn was an English actress who made a name for herself in the United States as a film and stage actress. Hepburn was also considered a fashion icon and worked tirelessly as a humanitarian, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom and serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

There are several labor unions which are very important to actors. The Actors' Equity Association, or AEA, is a union which represents the interests of stage actors, while the better-known Screen Actors Guild (SAG) represents actors appearing on television and in films and commercials. For radio actors, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has jurisdiction. All of these unions help determine working conditions and wages for actors.

What are the top cities for Acting jobs?

The many actors who travel to New York City in order to find jobs will be glad to hear that New York is indeed the top city in the United States for acting jobs. Chicago Illinois is a distant second, and Houston Texas in third place for American cities which are good for acting jobs. In fourth place is Phoenix, Arizona, with Dallas, Texas in fifth and Atlanta, Georgia in sixth place. The famous Los Angeles California does not appear on the list until seventh place for acting jobs in the United States.

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