Qualifications and skills required to be an actor

Written by debbie mcrill
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Qualifications and skills required to be an actor
Actors must enjoy performing for people. (Getty Images)

Actor is the term for a male or female that performs in films, videos, on radio, on stage or television. An actor may also work in nightclubs, theme parks and any other venue when a person does some type of performance. For many actors, the work is not full-time and an actor often has a second job to earn money between acting work. The skills and qualifications to become an actor may be as varied as the type of actors working in the industry.

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A person who wants to act must display a core set of qualities such as creativity and the desire to perform in front of people. Other qualities are harder to define but are equally important. An actor needs to understand timing and how to connect with people. Many of these talents are considered innate in that the qualities seem to be part of the person's core make-up.

Acquiring skills

Although an actor does seem to have a certain quality that draws her to the performance arts, training can enhance the raw talent. Training is not necessarily required to become an actor, however, it helps hone natural ability as well as teaching fundamentals. For example, an actor may speak with great character and emotion, but not know how to project his voice. Training teaches him skills to increase his chances of getting a part. Training can start with school plays, dance or voice lessons. Actors can perform at playhouses or work summers for a theme park. An actor may also decide to study drama at university. Training does not guarantee work, but it increases your chances. Other forms of training are more organic, such as singing at open mic at a club or doing poetry readings.


Specific skills needed to be an actor can be one specific talent such as having an interesting voice and doing radio commercials or it can be a wide gamut of skills. Some actors have singing ability, dancing ability or have stand-up comedy skills. All skills are not required, however, the more you have the more versatile you are. Other seemingly non-acting skills can help your overall acting ability. Consider that you know how to ice skate, sky dive or kick-box. The skills might draw interest from a producer or director or the skill may be a needed part of the performance.

Continual improvement

You may have all the right skills, training and talent and not get the job because you are too tall or too short. You can increase your chances of getting work by continuing to improve or add skills to your resume. You may also need to do some self-evaluation. For example, if you are a tall person, you are not going to get a role as a Munchkin. Be realistic about where you fit as you are developing your career. Some lucky people get lead roles with very little experience, but you're chances of landing a lead role when you've never even been in a commercial are slim. However, you might get the role as an oddball side character. This character may gain a lot of attention and lead to more work.

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