Actors communicate an author’s script to others by acting in a creative and convincing fashion. They entertain people through media such as theatre, film, radio and television. Their skills can also be used in industrial theatre and education to convey important information to the audience in an effective way.
What am I going to do in this occupation?
Actors, like singers, musicians and dancers are performing artists and specialists in the field of entertainment. Actors may act on stage or become involved in film, television or radio productions. Since singing, dancing and the playing of instruments form part of many productions, it is to their advantage to have some knowledge of, or talent for the other performing arts.
Acting is a form of communication and the actors are the media through which writers’ thoughts are communicated to audiences. Actors therefore read, analyse and interpret scripts thoroughly before they learn their parts
A great deal of actors’ time is taken up by rehearsals. Rehearsals take place under the guidance of directors who have knowledge and experience of acting, design and stage management. Actors therefore follow the directions and advice of directors. Movements and gestures, vocal and speech skills, pauses, facial expressions and many other acting techniques, are practised and repeated, until a polished performance is obtained.
During their careers, many performers choose to specialise in a specific field of acting. Some actors find live theatre demanding and rewarding, while others prefer acting in front of a camera. Depending on the media used, different skills are required of actors. Actors involved in live theatre make greater use of exaggerated movements and voice-projection than persons acting in front of a camera do. Film actors employ more subtle body movements and facial expressions as their audiences often view them from the close-up angle of the camera. Someone involved in radio production primarily makes use of voicemodulation and intonation in order to create the desired expression. The acting techniques may also depend on the type of role actors play. Some actors may have the appearance and personality which enhance their skill as comedians, while others may have the assets and skills required for the interpretation of serious dramatic roles. Versatility in all areas of dramatic performance creates more employment opportunities for the actor.
This profession is far from an easy one. It demands hard work and serious vocal, physical and mental training. It necessitates long hours of study and intense concentration as well as discipline.
What kind of personality do I need? Personal characteristics like intelligence, sensitivity, keen perception, good memory and a sense of self-discipline are required by anyone wanting to enter the acting profession. Acting demands self-confidence, dedication, the will to succeed, the ability to adapt to different situations and the ability to deal maturely with criticism.
Good health is essential, since actors cannot afford to become ill during rehearsals or performance times. They should be able to project personality and emotions. The ability to think creatively and a talent for language are additional qualities that complement actors.
Where can I work?
Career opportunities exist at various theatres, in the film industry and at the (Television and Radio) where actors are employed for specific productions on a contract basis, via agencies.
Most actors work on a free-lance basis where they consider and take any work that is temporarily available – many organisations and private companies appoint people only temporarily, for the duration of the production.
Can I work for myself in this occupation?
Actors can work through agents on a contract basis or give drama classes to school children, students and adults. They can also get involved in industrial theatre or street theatre.