Career Guide

Actor or Actress

Ben Maples  · Dec 5th 2023

Here we have one of the most popular jobs, not just in the UK, but the world over!

Actor or Actress

What is an actor?

An actor is an actor, right? They are able to communicate a character, scene or situation to an audience through body language, movement, appearance and speech. Performing careers interpret the work of a writer through the instruction of a director, although some roles may require the actor to improvise by understanding the character and how they would react in a particular situation.

The type of roles and characters that actors may embody can vary, from theatre actors on the stage performing live to soap operas on television. Actors need to be determined to persevere, even if they don’t get booked for the roles they wanted. You should be willing to grab any opportunity and to gain experience from it, as well as undergo training and education.

What are the responsibilities of an actor?

If you’ve researched how to become an actor in the UK and decided it is something you want to do, then the next step is to ensure you get enough work to keep your dream going. An actor profile lists your skills, experiences and talents, as well as actor qualifications. Jobs for actors open up networking opportunities which can lead to other roles. As an actor, you should liaise with your agent, attend and prepare for auditions, rehearse and learn lines and research your part.

The actor salary in the UK can vary by the actor jobs in your book and the acting vacancies you collect.

Other responsibilities include being able to perform for a live audience, on location for TV, internet or film and be able to tour across the country or even abroad. Some companies employ actors for a season or a specified period that the show, play or performance will run. You may even book acting roles for TV and filming purposes for work-related positions, like training videos, or be booked for viral marketing content.

What qualifications do you need to be an actor?

So, what qualifications do you need to be an actress? Firstly, actors can obtain a degree or HND (Higher National Diploma), but it is not a formal requirement for acting. Although, some form of study of performing, visual arts or media will help. Not all are lucky enough to land prominent acting roles with no prior training or study, as most craft their career over many years, and achieve success after a lot of hard work and determination.

Acting jobs in the UK are not seeking individuals with postgraduate qualifications, but it can be a useful way of gaining more skills, contacts and experience. If you are currently studying, you can gain experience through your university drama society and develop your skills, like discipline, performing and music.

Actor Career

What skills are useful for actors?

The list of attributes actors should have include being able to work as part of a team, to take criticism and instruction on board and network. Self-discipline to keep on training and stamina to allow you to learn lines, study the role and work long hours will also help. Other performing skills, like dancing, singing or playing a musical instrument, may help you book particular parts. Actors should be resilient, reliable, punctual and be able to interpret roles. They tend to have excellent communication and listening skills, can work well in a team and alone. They tend to be determined and take criticism well.

How to get into acting?

If you’re hoping to start an acting career, then booking acting jobs is the first place to start. If you’re wondering how to become an actress in the UK, or overseas, then training to learn the ability to interpret and analyse roles will help. The same can be said for any person considering ‘how to get into acting in the UK performance market?’.

Acting careers will include booking jobs in acting roles to get your name out there and earn a wage. The different types of places actors can see themselves performing include television studios, theatres, videos on the web and even outdoors. An actor's job description can vary as it depends on the specific role and character each time, and you may find yourself performing opposite situations day-to-day.

Actors need to be determined to persevere, even if they don’t get booked for the roles they wanted.

Performance art opportunities can be found all across the country, if you’re searching for ‘acting jobs near me’, then check your local theatre and media productions. However, to ensure you are making enough bookings and earn a decent wage, actors can expect to spend a lot of time away from home. It may disrupt home, and social life as you could be on an ongoing job for weeks or months at a time.

If you want to become an actor in the UK, auditions are often held in London and other cities, meaning actors may have to attend short notice. Word of mouth and networking will play a vital role in your success, if you present yourself well, act professional and demonstrate good work then directors, producers and casting agents will spread this to their peers.

How to obtain acting work experience?

The first step is to ensure you have the acting skills list mentioned above. Once you have begun training in these desirable skills and acting qualifications, you’ll be able to look at acting opportunities in the UK. A career in acting starts with experience, which is an essential factor to success, as well as hard work, determination, talent and a little bit of luck thrown in.

Who is the actor? They can be found in school, youth or community amateur dramatic societies and will make a great start to your career in acting. There are also theatre or BBC career work experience schemes where you gain valuable experience while studying or booking jobs. Adding to this, holiday camps, resorts, and even working abroad as an entertainer or tour operator will also help.

One thing to bear in mind is that you may not see your name in big, shining lights for years as you book bigger and better jobs. Signing up to an agency and securing minor roles in adverts and TV programmes can help kickstart your career, as well as working as an extra.


How much do actors get paid in the UK?

The actor salary in the UK can vary by the actor jobs in your book and the acting vacancies you collect. Drama actors may earn a different amount than a stage actor, so an actor’s wages can vary. The trade union for professional performers and other creative workers - Equity - negotiate minimum wages for actors. However, rates can depend on the location, type and number of performances for the job.

An agent may negotiate higher wages for bookings and take a percentage of the earnings as their fee. Securing an agent can be challenging and a competitive process, but if you network correctly and invite agents to see you perform, or send them a showreel of their work, then you can find the right one for you.

Actors should be resilient, reliable, punctual and be able to interpret roles.

What are the prospects of an actor?

There is no standard career path that actors follow, as most individuals move from one contract to another. They may perform similar work and go for the roles they enjoy or try to branch out and try a bit of everything. Success doesn’t come immediately with the more jobs you book. Instead, you may need to move between theatres, agents and types of contracts - TV, film and radio etc.

There is a lack of job security in the profession, so be prepared to have a part-time job as a back-up or for income. For progression, you can learn new skills or branch out to various types of performing. Others choose to move into management or even scriptwriting and directing. Some individuals set up a theatre, TV or film production company themselves, but this requires funding, experience and a lot of networking.

It’s important to remember that not every actor becomes successful and an international name, but it doesn’t mean the job doesn’t come with its rewards. The career is fun, exciting, and each new role offers a different opportunity. However, a lot of actors find other ways to generate income while acting.

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