Advertising & Arts

Actor

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theatre, film, television, and other performing arts media.

  • Entry-level education

    Junior secondary school certificate or equivalent

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Actor do?

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theatre, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

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Work activities

You may be acting alone or as part of a cast of actors. This will depend on the production. Your performance is just a small part of the work.

You would also spend a lot of time:

  • researching your role
  • learning your lines
  • rehearsing
  • attending fittings for costumes
  • preparing for and going to auditions
  • contacting actors’ agents and finding the next job.

As an actor you will need to become familiar with your own lines and those of other cast members so that your timing is right. You will also need to understand stage positioning so that you are in the right position on set/stage during the production. You will normally work with other professionals such as make-up artists, camera operators and directors.

Some roles may require you to work with the director and other cast members to interpret the script. This involves using your voice and expression to portray different emotions. It could even include deciding how the character will look and behave. You will also need to very adaptable as you could be asked to play a number of different characters with different personalities.

In smaller theatre companies, other tasks such as administration duties, publicity and staging the performance may be part of the role.

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Key skills and interests

To become an actor, you would need:

  • talent and creativity
  • good teamwork skills
  • stamina, energy and physical fitness
  • versatility and adaptability
  • discipline, resilience and a hard-working attitude
  • a good memory, for learning parts quickly.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

Hours may be irregular. Most theatre performances take place in the evenings. You may also perform in daytime shows, rehearsals and auditions. In film and television, days can be very long and involve a lot of waiting around between scenes. Actors often combine their acting work with other part-time jobs.

Conditions

You would need to travel to jobs and auditions. If touring with a play or filming on location, you should expect to be away from home for longer periods. A lot of your work may take place in a studio or theatre although you may also work outdoors on film/TV shoots, or site-specific theatre productions.

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How to become an Actor?

Entry Level Education

You can work as an actor without formal qualifications. However, to improve the likelihood of gaining employment, completing either a formal qualification or private course in acting is advisable. Acceptance into formal courses is usually based on your acting ability and interest, through an audition process and previous experience. 

There are various VET qualifications in acting, performing arts, music theatre or theatre and screen performance which would be appropriate to study.

You can also become an actor by completing a degree in acting, drama, performing arts, music theatre or theatre studies. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate with English. There is lots of competition for places, and an audition, practical test or interview is usual.

Each November, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) conduct auditions in most states and territories for their courses. The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) usually holds auditions in November and early December.

www.nida.edu.au

www.waapa.ecu.edu.au

www.vca.unimelb.edu.au

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of actors is projected to grow slower than the average for all occupations. New content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, which may lead to more work for actors in the future.

Job growth in the movie industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with that demand.

Actors who work in performing arts companies are expected to see slower job growth than those in film. Many small and medium-size theatres have difficulty getting funding. As a result, the number of performances is expected to decline. Large theatres, with their more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

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