14 Pros and Cons of Being an Actor

Actors

Life as an artist is not easy, especially if your art is a service rather than something solid you can sell.

Being an actor comes with a lot of great perks, but can require great sacrifice.

Is being an actor as glamorous and rewarding of a lifestyle as the media suggests it is?

Let’s review some of the pros and cons that come with being an actor, and help decide if this may be right for you.

Pros of Being an Actor

There are a lot of perks that come with being an actor.

Just being able to say “I’m an actor” is enough to garner the attention and admiration of many people.

There are many fantasies as to what it means to be an actor.

In all seriousness, what are the pros of acting?

1. Enjoyable Job in the Arts

Many people dream of working in the arts, be it as an artist or in a supporting role.

An actor’s job is to live out the fantasy that someone wrote and convince the audience it is actually happening.

They are the stars of the most appreciated arts.

It is a fun way to convey a range of emotions.

If a show does well, it is the actor who gets the attention and the credit for all of the hard work of the writers, cast, and crew. 

2. Unique Work Environments

Working on a set is unlike any mainstream job setting, even if the set is supposed to be a real workplace.

Depending on the production, an actor may be working outdoors at a remote location, in a business setting, or in a theater.

Each new show brings a different set and working conditions.

No two jobs are ever 100% the same, unlike most day jobs which are mind-numbingly repetitive.

Many jobs require traveling to promote production, allowing for opportunities to meet new people all over the world.

3. Multiple Style Options

It was not all that long ago that actors were limited to theater work, only what was approved for public performances in a highly puritanical society, and performances were usually formal.

Over the years, radio, cinema, TV, and the internet ushered in several avenues for actors to express themselves.

Those shy about public performing can now get TV work.

Those who are not moved by Shakespeare have many other plays to choose from.

4. Opportunities to Collaborate

Actors get the opportunity to meet people in a creative environment.

It is not uncommon for actors to work with the writers, producers, musicians, and others who are a part of the process of making a show.

More experienced actors often go on to direct and produce shows for other actors, as well as coach and mentor newer actors.

Actors even get to work with professionals at the top of their fields.

5. Learn New Skills

This is a necessary part of the job.

To prepare for a role, actors have learned some wonderful skills in order to perform them adequately on screen.

Dedicated actors learn things such as armed and unarmed combat, horseback riding, and even race car driving. 

By having a genuine understanding of how to do these tasks, actors have an edge over the competition who lack these skills as tight preparation schedules can limit the time to train an actor from scratch.

6. Influence

It is no secret that famous people, particularly actors, hold an amount of influence over many.

Their actions tend to determine what the current “youth generation” will take an interest in or against.

They can get favors from people in non-entertainment industries.

Many businesses will give expensive, luxury products to actors for free just to get on actors’ good sides, not complaining if the actors go on to promote the goods or services.

Actors of a certain level of influence can use their star power to rally together a network of like-minded individuals for their favorite causes.

Actors have raised billions for charity.

7. Lucrative

The media makes it clear that a solid acting career can set one up to live a four-star life.

Many movie stars have made it abundantly clear that they have had so much comfort that they have lost touch with the reality of the costs of living.

Not all actors hit that level, but still, earn enough to retire and live well. 

Acting is one of the handfuls of careers where you can work your way from rags to riches within a few years. 

Cons of Being an Actor

No career is 100% all great things.

Many of the pros that we have listed only happen if you make it to a certain level of commercial success.

Acting is not a career where you can just declare yourself an actor and be guaranteed work.

There are some cons to consider before choosing this path.

1. Low Entry-Level Pay

The vast majority of acting opportunities are not paid.

They are a community theater, art school, and other such productions that are filled with volunteers.

Many actors are so eager to work for the experience that they will work for free.

This leads to many venues taking advantage by suggesting their entertainers work for “exposure” to an audience. 

Non-network, non-big-production acting gigs tend to not pay well.

Many actors who work outside of the major industrial cities work a primary job for income.

2. Hiring is Highly Subjective

Talent only gets you so far.

There are many performers on the streets of major cities who perform better than most of what we see on modern award shows.

This also applies to acting.

Sometimes, casting directors are looking for a certain look.

Popularity also counts for a lot as it is viewed as guaranteed ticket sales.

Similarly, your hireability is largely based on how well your last performance sold – whether you had anything to do with the quality of the show or not. 

3. Stressful Work Environments

There is a lot riding on the shoulders of the performers.

You may rehearse the same few lines countless times only for them to be cut or altered.

Shoot days can exceed 18 hours.

You may have to reshoot the same scene several times because of others’ missing lines or marks. 

During a live show, the actor has no margin for error.

You have to remain focused despite what is going on in the audience. 

4. Competitive Egos

Artist egos are known to be everything from large to fragile.

Even if this is not you, that does not mean that you will not wind up crossing paths with someone who is full of themselves.

It may not even be another actor – directors and producers are not exempt from this.

Once people get to tell you how great you are, it is tough not to believe.

5. No Job Security or Guarantee

Actors can be well on their way to a bright career, but one bad guest role on a flop production derails that.

A harsh review of an otherwise outstanding performance can override how well the actor really did, especially by an affluent critic.

6. Niche Casting

Some actors are able to make a great career out of playing the same person in every movie.

For others, especially if they are not the “everyman/everywoman type”, this can be quite limiting.

Actors who do too well-playing frat boys can age out of the only thing for which anyone sought them. 

7. Can Negatively Impact Relationships 

Actors have to put their jobs above all other things in order to have a successful career.

Not many people outside of the industry understand this, and even fewer are willing to be placed after the career – especially during the early, cash-free years.

Success can also impact relationships as many tough decisions may need to be made.

Friends and family from before your success may have expectations of your financial generosity.

Actors also must beware of those who are pretending to be friends with them only to use them.

Pros and Cons of Being an Actor – Summary Table

Pros of Being an ActorCons of Being an Actor
1. Enjoyable Job in the Arts1. Low Entry-Level Pay
2. Unique Work Environments2. Hiring is Highly Subjective
3. Multiple Style Options3. Stressful Work Environments
4. Opportunities to Collaborate4. Competitive Egos
5. Learn New Skills5. No Job Security or Guarantee
6. Influence6. Niche Casting
7. Lucrative7. Can Negatively Impact Relationships 

Should You Become an Actor?

This is largely dependent upon your top priorities.

You will need to strongly assess your realistic skillset, be honest about what you bring to the table, and know that the commitment required may lead to some sacrifices.

If the sacrifices seem like a small price to pay for the potential gain, and you have a proven work ethic and commitment, acting may be for you.

If you seek some form of long-term security and are not willing to sacrifice younger years only to risk that it leads to nothing, then you may wish to consider acting as a hobby.

Jamie Willis