Job Description of an Actress


Professional actresses perform on stage, in films, on television and in other venues, and they are paid for their work. They sometimes focus on drama, comedy, or commercials. An actress brings to life the words of a script for the entertainment, amusement or education of an audience. A successful actress is a perfectionist dedicated to making her craft a riveting performance. Many actresses now prefer the gender-neutral term "actor."

The Scripts Define the Role

  • An actress must view the script through the character's lens. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an actress should "interpret a writer's script to entertain, inform, or instruct an audience." The writer and director give the actress a significant amount of information about how the character should act, but the choices made during a performance are ultimately up to the actress. She should make choices that fall in line with what the director wants, yet she still should have room to bring her personality to the character.

Finding Work

  • An aspiring actress should be prepared to spend a significant amount of time out of work. Auditions take up much of her time. Some acting jobs are not full time. Although acting gigs can be unpredictable, an actress can gain stability by joining a union. Some jobs require union membership. Actors unions include the Actors' Equity Association and the merged Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG.AFTRA).

Working Conditions

  • Film shoots sometimes require that performers work in an area distant from an actress' home. Unions often regulate the amount of time that a union actress is allowed to work, but work hours can still be long.

Rejection Is Tough

  • Professional performers must develop a tough layer of skin to avoid becoming handicapped by criticism. Actresses go to far more auditions than they book, and they are not right for each role. Sometimes casting directors are looking for a different physical type, and they can't picture the auditioning actress who does not fit that vision. Actresses can become frustrated thinking that they can convince every casting director that they are right for every role.

Performing Under Pressure

  • Actresses must have the stamina to get through a rigorous day's work. Acting is a physical experience, and it calls for a significant amount of movement. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, "actors strive to deliver flawless performances, often while working under undesirable and unpleasant conditions." The actress must read an extensive amount of material and memorize it in a short amount of time. She needs to understand what is expected of her and live up to the expectation without buckling under pressure.

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