Aspiring actresses face frequent rejections in auditions and long periods of unemployment; competition for roles is often intense. While formal training is helpful, experience and talent are more important for success in this field. Because of erratic employment, earnings for actresses are relatively low. Although most people associate actresses, directors, and producers with the screens of Hollywood or stages of Broadway, these workers are more likely to be found in a local theatre, television studio, circus, or comedy club. Actresses, directors, and producers include workers as diverse as narrators; clowns; comedians; acrobats; jugglers; stunt, rodeo, and aquatic performers; casting, stage, news, sports, and public service directors; production, stage, and artist and repertoire managers; and producers and their assistants.
In essence, actresses, directors, and producers express ideas and create images in theaters, film, radio, television, and a variety of other media. They make the words come alive for their audiences. Actresses entertain and communicate with people through their interpretation of dramatic roles. However, only a few actresses ever achieve recognition as stars-whether on stage, in motion pictures, or on television. A few others are well known, experienced performers, who frequently are cast in supporting roles. Most actresses struggle for a toehold in the profession and pick up parts wherever they can.
Although actresses often prefer a certain type of role, experience is so important to success in this field that even established actresses continue to accept small roles, including commercials and product endorsements. Other actresses work as background performers, or 'extras,' with small parts and no lines to deliver; still others work for theater companies, teaching acting courses to the public. Directors interpret plays or scripts. In addition, they audition and select cast members, conduct rehearsals, and direct the work of the cast and crew. Directors' use their knowledge of acting, voice, and movement to achieve the best possible performance, and they usually approve the scenery, costumes, choreography, and music. Producers are entrepreneurs.
They select plays or scripts, arrange financing, and decide on the size, cost, and content of a production. They hire directors, principal members of the cast, and key production staff members. Producers also negotiate contracts with artistic personnel, often in accordance with collective bargaining agreements. Producers work on a project from beginning to end, coordinating the activities of writers, directors, managers, and other personnel. Increasingly, producers who work on motion pictures must have a working knowledge of the new technology needed to create special effects.
Acting demands patience and total commitment, because actresses are often rejected in auditions and must endure long periods of unemployment between jobs. Actresses typically work long, irregular hours, sometimes under adverse weather conditions that may exist on location. They also must travel when shows are on the road. Coupled with the heat of stage or studio lights and heavy costumes, these f actresses require stamina. Actresses working on Broadway productions often work long hours during rehearsals, but generally work about 30 hours a week once the show opens.
Evening work is a regular part of a stage actor's life, as several performances are often held on one day. Flawless performances require tedious memorization of lines and repetitive rehearsals. On television, actresses must deliver a good performance with very little preparation. Directors and producers often work under stress as they try to meet schedules, stay within budgets, and resolve personnel problems while putting together a production. Directors must be aware of union rules and how they affect production schedules. For example, actresses must be paid a minimum salary and can work no more than a set number of hours, depending on their contract.
Additional restrictions a replaced on productions using child actresses and animals. In 1998, actresses, directors, and producers held about 160, 000 jobs in motion pictures, stage plays, television, and radio. Many others were between jobs, so the total number of actresses, directors, and producers employed at some time during the year was higher. In winter, most employment opportunities on stage are in New York and other large cities, many of which have established professional regional theaters. In summer, stock companies in suburban and resort areas also provide employment. Actresses, directors, and producers also find work on cruise lines and in amusement parks.
In addition, many cities have small nonprofit professional companies such as little theaters, repertory companies, and dinner theaters, which provide opportunities for local amateur talent as well as for professional entertainers. Normally, casts are selected in New York City for shows that go on the road. Employment in motion pictures and films for television is centered in Hollywood and New York City. However, small studios are located throughout the country. In addition, many films are shot on location and may employ local professional and nonprofessional day players and extras. In television, opportunities are concentrated in the network centers of New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, but local television stations around the country also employ a substantial number of these workers.
Although many people have the technical skills to enter this industry, few receive the opportunity to display their talent. To gain experience, most aspiring actresses and directors take part in high school and college plays, or they work with little theaters and other acting groups. The best way to start is to use local opportunities and build on them. Local and regional theater experience may help in obtaining work in New York or Los Angeles. Actresses and directors try to work their way up to major productions.
Intense competition, however, ensures that few succeed. Formal dramatic training or acting experience is generally necessary, although some people enter the field without it. Most people take college courses in theater, arts, drama, and dramatic literature. Many experienced actresses pursue additional formal training to learn new skills and improve old ones.
Actresses often research there character's lifestyle and history, as well as information about the location of the story. Sometimes actresses learn a foreign language or develop an accent to make there character more realistic. Training can be obtained at dramatic arts schools in New York and Los Angeles, and at colleges and universities throughout the country that offer bachelor or higher degrees in dramatic and theater arts. College drama curriculum's usually include courses in liberal arts, stage speech and movement, directing, playwriting, play production, design, and the history of the drama, as well as practical courses in acting. Actresses need talent, creative ability, and training that will enable them to portray different characters.
Training in singing and dancing is especially useful for stage work. Actresses must have poise, stage presence, the capability to affect an audience, and the ability to follow directions. Modeling experience may also be helpful. Physical appearance is often a deciding factor in being sele.