Being an actor has been a career choice for centuries, but most don’t understand where it all began. Most people don’t know that acting comes from Athens, where the world’s first known actor, Thespis, emerged. At the time, the sixth century BC – the year 535BC to be exact – tyrant Pisistratus had imposed a series of festivals on the public, seemingly as an offering to the god Dionysus.
At the festival, singing, dancing, and poetry competitions were held, and this is where Thespis became known as the first actor. History tells us that Thespis entered poetry competitions at the festivals. Instead of simply reciting poetry, he would put on a dramatic show, pretending to be each of the characters and truly delivering the emotions in the piece he was reading. This made him the world’s first actor, but he was certainly not the last. Soon, others caught on to just how enthralling crowds found this form of entertainment and how lucrative it could be.
It’s quite apparent how the world has changed when you consider that Thespis earned very little for his shows, and now the world’s top actors, such as Dwayne Johnson, earn more than $87 million per year. It comes as no surprise that more and more people are attracted to the idea of becoming an actor, especially when it’s public knowledge that some actors earn as much as $23.5 million for acting in just one movie. Of course, it’s not all about perks and advantages when becoming an actor. There are downsides to consider, too.
Most people dream of becoming an actor (or actress) without considering such a lifestyle’s complexities. With all that money and fame, there’s an understandable amount of life discomfort as well. If you’re struggling to clearly see the good, the bad, and the ugly of becoming an actor, perhaps our list of pros and cons below will help you. Maybe becoming an actor is just the right career choice for you, but maybe it’s not.
Pros of Becoming an Actor
Actors get to explore and express their creativity
Being an actor is not like a typical office job. Actors don’t have to show up for work every day at the same time and aren’t given tasks like a regular employee is. That’s not to say that actors don’t have work to do, but their publicists and legal teams do a large part of the job. An actor is only truly working on set and preparing for it, and then it’s all about creativity. Actors learn to unleash their inner expressiveness and approach life head-on, unlike the rest of the population that is expected to behave appropriately and put creativity on the back seat. Actors typically have to go for acting lessons to learn how to explore and express their creativity. Some of the best acting schools, often attended by the world’s top actors, are based in New York City, Woodstock, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, and Glasgow, to name a few.
Job satisfaction is an essential aspect of any career, and acting is no exception. In fact, job satisfaction can be a significant benefit of pursuing a career in acting.
Bringing a character to life and entertaining audiences can be deeply satisfying and rewarding. It can provide a great deal of variety, with the opportunity to work on a range of projects and explore various characters and emotions. This variety can help prevent boredom and keep actors engaged and excited about their work.
It can be a path to personal growth, as it requires actors to tap into their emotions and explore their own experiences. This process can lead to increased self-awareness and personal growth.
Acting can provide a sense of camaraderie and community, as actors often work closely with other performers and crew members. This collaboration can lead to strong bonds and a sense of belonging.
The earning potential of acting is huge
How much money an actor makes depends on where they are in their career. It stands to reason that actors just starting in the industry make a lot less than the already-famous actors. The type of work an actor is doing can also determine how much money they make. Other factors also play a role, such as the certifications the actor has, what skills they have to offer, how educated they are, and if they have the right attitude for the industry (actors have to be go-getters). That said, actors typically earn more than regular workers.
In 2020, an actor’s average salary just getting into the industry was around $27 per hour. With a bit of research, it is found that the average actor living and working in the USA earns a salary between $47,000 and $70,554.
Actors enjoy public adoration (popularity)
When an actor “makes it big,” they are almost immediately boosted to fame and popularity. People want to know more about the actor that wowed them on the big screen or in their favorite series. Suppose you take Brad Pitt as an example. His acting career started in 1987, and by 1989 he had already secured his place in the Hollywood world. His ascension to fame was quick, and everyone knows just how much he has enjoyed that fame over the years. Many actors revel in the newfound popularity; some find it quite addictive. What could be better than having hundreds of thousands or even millions of people adoring and supporting you?
Actors get to meet and socialize with famous people
Some people are drawn to the idea of socializing with some of the most successful and influential people in the world. Actors aren’t just exposed to other famous actors but also meet the likes of presidents, princesses, princes, politicians, models and other people who are watched and adored by the rest of the population. Being so socially connected and rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of society can be a major ego boost to the average person. The social lifestyle of a famous actor is highly attractive to just about everyone.
Actors travel the world and explore new countries
Actors who make a name for themselves and become successful may often get the opportunity to travel to new countries to shoot movies and do recordings. In a regular office job, most people don’t get this type of opportunity. What’s more, is that an actor has a decent budget to draw on for entertainment and adventure while traveling. Some of the most famous actors, such as George Clooney, Sofia Vergara, and Angelina Jolie admit to their love of traveling the world. It’s a similar case with most actors who have the time in their schedules (as they certainly have the funds).
Acting can have a positive impact
Acting can have a positive impact on audiences and society as a whole. Actors can use their platform to raise awareness about important issues and inspire positive change.
Acting can also have educational value, as it can teach people about different cultures, historical events, and social issues. For example, a play or movie about the Civil Rights Movement can help to educate people about the struggles and injustices faced by African Americans in the United States.
Actors can use their platform to raise awareness about important issues and inspire positive change. For example, an actor may use their fame to support a charitable cause, bring attention to environmental issues, or advocate for social justice.
It can have therapeutic value for both actors and audiences. For actors, the process of exploring different characters and emotions can help them to work through personal issues and gain a greater understanding of themselves. For audiences, watching performances can be a way to process their own emotions and find healing.
Cons of Becoming an Actor
It’s hard to earn a reputation in the industry
Becoming an actor isn’t as easy as many people hope it is. There are no official statistics that show how many studying actors end up being famous or successful. However, it is common knowledge that some people who study acting, move to an area where actors are frequently hired, and spend many years of their lives getting no more than a few commercial or low-paying acting gigs. A famous actor’s life may be the goal, but very few actors make it to fame and fortune. That’s not to say that new actors have no chance of becoming successful actors; it all just depends on what your end goal is. If you are happy staring in local television product adverts or a local soap opera, you may make it. If you aim for stardom and a hefty salary each month (or gig), you’re going to have to work hard, already be connected to get a foot in the door, and probably deal with a lot of rejection before you start getting anywhere.
Acting is a profession that can often be characterized by instability in income. Most actors work as freelancers and are not salaried employees. They may have periods of intense work, such as during a theater production or a film shoot, but then have long periods of downtime between gigs. This means that their income can be unpredictable and irregular.
In addition to the freelance nature of the work, acting jobs can be highly competitive, and it is not uncommon for actors to experience long periods of unemployment or underemployment. Even successful actors who are well-known may have gaps in their work schedule or experience fluctuations in income depending on the availability of projects.
Actors may receive pay in a variety of ways, such as hourly, daily, or weekly rates, or they may receive a lump sum for an entire project. The pay rate may also depend on the budget of the project, the actor’s level of experience, and their negotiating skills. This means that there is no set pay structure for actors, and income can vary widely from project to project.
Actors face a big risk of public rejection
Actors spend a considerable amount of time punting themselves as a brand. They have to be in the public eye consistently, and the more they put themselves out there, the more people will start to pay attention to them. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a good thing. As a regular person, when you do something wrong or embarrassing, you stand the risk of your immediate circle finding out and ridiculing or rejecting you. When actors do something wrong or embarrassing, the rejection and ridicule that they face are on a much larger scale. The whole world (or at least a large portion of it) is watching, and the risk of becoming an instant public failure is always hanging over an actor’s head.
Actors have no privacy – life is always under scrutiny
Actors who become well-known do so at the expense of their privacy. It’s almost like an unspoken contract between famous actors and society that they become the world’s property once they become famous. People want to know what is happening in their lives every instant and want to judge it openly. Unfortunately, this can have a detrimental impact on an actor’s quality of life, especially when the press reveals intimate private moments, holidays are ruined by crazy fans demanding attention, and every move and activity is reported in the newspapers, often negatively. This type of lifestyle can harm an actor’s psyche. It can spur depression, frustration, and a lack of general happiness and enjoyment.
Actors experience uncertainty in relationships
Society is filled with many opportunistic people. Because famous actors earn a lot of money, it can be hard for them to determine if love interests and friendships are genuine or simply a façade to get their hands on money or a certain way of life. It’s not always about money. Some actors may find that people fake being interested in them or loving them because they want to meet other famous people or get ahead in the industry themselves. It can be hard for an actor to trust those around them, and most relationships start with a certain amount of uncertainty involved.
The lifestyle of an actor can lack depth or be pretentious
Becoming an actor isn’t just a job; it’s a lifestyle. When you’re an actor, you’re always “on duty” in that you have to be the flashy, entertaining, well-connected, suave person that everyone believes you are. You cannot drop the ball. As soon as you appear normal and “regular”, you lose your glitter or your charm. Thus, actors are always attending parties, social events and mixing with the rich and famous. They always have to be in the public eye, and they have to be consistent in who they portray themselves to be. Being a celebrity actor can impact a person’s life so much that they begin to live pretentiously. Some actors are even ranked as one of the top ten most pretentious celebrities, including Jared Leto, James Franco, and Matthew McConaughey.
That said, while some actors seemingly enjoy the lifestyle, others don’t (they only figure this out once they’re in too deep, though). Actors don’t get to break down in public when going through a breakup or wear their sweatpants or PJs to the grocery store. Often this lifestyle can lead to a shallow existence that isn’t real. Instead, it’s pretentious. Many actors may even long for a more wholesome lifestyle, but that’s impossible in the acting world.
Actors have to deal with crazy fans and stalkers
Most people in regular office jobs don’t have to worry about finding threatening notes on their desks or being followed home from work. Actors often have to deal with stalkers and crazy fans who don’t understand the concept of healthy boundaries and who want to insert themselves into the actor’s life. It can be quite unpleasant for an actor who is harassed at every possible opportunity by a fan (or many fans) who won’t take no for an answer.
Many famous people have been attacked and assaulted by fans (or haters) over the years. Let’s take Kim Kardashian, for example. She was assaulted by an animal activist in 2012 because she regularly wears fur. Another fine example is Brad Pitt, who was signing autographs at the Maleficent premiere (2014) when a man walked right up to him and hit him in the face. In some instances, it has been even more severe than these assaults mentioned above. There is a growing list of famous celebrities who have been killed by stalkers and fans. Rebecca Shaeffer, who acted in My Sister Sam, was killed by her stalker at the age of 21, for instance.
Thus, famous actors often spend their lives looking over their shoulder, paying extra attention to security, and trusting very few people. Of course, this is not a healthy or comfortable way to live.
Work-life balance can be a challenge for actors, as the profession often requires long hours, unpredictable schedules, and a willingness to travel for work.
As we discussed earlier, actors often work on a freelance basis and may have unpredictable schedules that can change from week to week or even day to day. This can make it difficult to plan social or family activities outside of work.
Actors may be required to work long hours on set, particularly during filming of movies or TV shows. This can make it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance, as they may have little time for personal activities or relationships outside of work.