Top Skills Of An Actor To Master (With How To Improve)
Updated 15 February 2023
A career as an actor is rewarding, lucrative and creatively stimulating. Whether you are a professional actor or starting your career, building a diverse skill set differentiates you from others and can give casting directors a positive impression of you. Learning more about the skills of an actor can help you plan your career and show directors what you can achieve. In this article, we discuss what acting skills are, outline important actor abilities, review steps to take to improve them, highlight them in the workplace and explain how to showcase them on your application and during your audition.
Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.
What Are Skills Of An Actor?
Skills of an actor are professional capabilities that help them portray different characters in plays, television shows, films and musicals. Actors use these skills to engage their audience and influence them through speech patterns, acting abilities and hand gestures. Typically, an actor is responsible for researching the play, attending rehearsals, learning lines for speaking or singing and movements for dancing, taking directions from producers and directors and performing for an audience. Directors prefer hiring actors with a range of acting skills, so possessing this talent can help you differentiate yourself from others.
Examples Of Skills Of An Actor
Numerous abilities can help you succeed as an actor. The following are some skills that directors and producers tend to desire:
For actors, memorisation is an important skill to master. The ability to prepare lines by memorising them keeps the production on schedule. It allows the creative team to make changes if they find any inconsistencies in the dialogue and ensures the film or advertisement conveys the desired message to the audience. Reading lines repetitively or writing the lines by hand are a few ways to improve your memorisation capabilities.
One of the most important acting skills is the ability to comprehend instructions and act upon them. Being an attentive listener helps you focus on others and hear what they are saying, while you ignore distractions. During your acting career, listening comprehension helps you respond quickly to a director's instructions or be ready when other actors deliver their lines. Improve this skill set by conversing with friends, family and colleagues.
Body and voice control
Directors and producers prefer actors with control over their bodies and voices. Keeping them in control is key for meaningful performance. Changing your vocal range depending on the character can help you succeed as an actor. Having full control of your body primarily means being able to dance to choreography, take different character roles and move in a space in relation to the camera's position. Enrol in dancing classes or yoga sessions to gain more control over your body.
Much of your job as an actor involves talking to others. You might talk to various people, such as a manager, producer or director, about logistics, including rehearsals, scheduling and wardrobe. Apart from talking to these individuals, acting itself involves communication. Being a skilled communicator is necessary for you as an actor because it helps you tell the story you are performing for the audience. Practise communication by enrolling in speaking classes or communicating with other professionals.
Your dancing and physical qualities can improve your acting performance and might be beneficial for playing distinct characters. The ability to dance is an important acting skill, which can create tremendous opportunities. It can help you play original characters in musicals and other productions that require dancing. Knowing how to dance increases your flexibility, builds your stamina and develops a sense of rhythm and spatial awareness.
Directors and producers prefer actors who can adapt and apply their skills to various roles, techniques, styles and genres. For instance, you might act as a hero in a lead role in one film and as a villain in the next. In addition, as a dancer, you might perform classical ballet for one job or work as a street dancer for the other. Flexibility allows you to multitask and helps you adapt to different situations.
Starting from your first audition to performing on the stage, analysing the script before accepting any role is key for actors. The ability to gather clues from the text and understand the writer's vision helps deliver powerful performances. Analyse the script depending on the size and nature of your role. When examining the text, be sure to read the script from your audience's perspective. Next, give attention to the title, required creativity, character description and genre. Perform in-depth research about slang or unfamiliar words to ensure powerful dialogue delivery.
Organisation and time management
Often, successful actors work on more than one project, making their work schedule demanding This makes strong organisation and time management a key skill set. A part of your workday involves keeping track of the rehearsal timetable, attending different auditions and focusing on your travel arrangements. You might work with one or more directors simultaneously, which requires excellent organisational and time management abilities.
Professionalism helps you maintain and build positive relationships with others in the entertainment industry. Being a professional assist you in being polite during work-related situations. It can also involve, for example, being punctual to avoid shooting delays.
A large part of your acting career involves giving auditions and not getting the job. Not everyone can take such situations positively, but being resilient helps you succeed in your career. The ability to turn negative situations into something positive is a skill that directors and producers prefer in an actor.
Having the ability to think creatively helps you approach circumstances or challenges in unique ways. This skill set is useful when you accept new roles and want to understand the character you are portraying. Developing your creativity abilities helps you become more inventive, which empowers you to improvise on dialogue.
How To Improve Your Skills Of An Actor?
Here are a few ways to improve your acting skills:
1. Enrol in online or offline classes
Pursuing a bachelor's degree in theatre, performing arts or acting can help you improve your skill set. Check local community colleges or register for specialised courses at renowned acting schools and theatres. You can even enrol in online certification programmes to show your abilities and knowledge to casting directors.
2. Read more plays and watch more theatre
The more plays you read, the more you know about different writers and characters. It helps you become knowledgeable about different genres and styles. Watching the performances of others helps you learn and expand your acting skill set. Directors prefer actors who are eager to expand their understanding. You can achieve this by regularly watching theatre and films.
3. Record yourself performing
Recording yourself is an excellent way to identify your strengths and limitations and highlight areas that require improvement. For instance, watching your recording can help you understand your movements, which might be unrealistic. If you use hand gestures during your performance, you can improve after watching the video.
Skills Of An Actor In The Workplace
Here are some tips to improve and highlight your acting skills in the workplace:
Be consistent. Consistency is key for becoming a successful actor. The more consistent you are, the more your audience knows and remembers you.
Manage your time and block the calendar. Managing your time might be challenging when working on more than one project. Focus on using calendar-blocking techniques to remain focused and remind yourself of the pending tasks before you take up additional work.
Promote a collaborative work environment. Promoting a collaborative work environment means recognising and managing conflicts between other actors. Create and encourage an environment that values differences in opinion but welcomes new ideas.
Set realistic goals. Goals can help you stay focused and motivate you to work hard. Setting long-term goals can provide direction to your acting career.
Related: SMART Goals: Definition And Examples
How To Highlight Skills Of An Actor?
Here are some ways to highlight your acting skills during a job search:
For your resume and cover letter
On your resume, start by writing a professional summary showcasing your most impressive and relevant skills. Include a separate skills section, focusing on your technical and soft abilities. Read the job description carefully and give preference to the capabilities mentioned there. Demonstrate these abilities on your cover letter by explaining how your acting skills can help you perform the specific role.
For a job interview
During your audition, the employer is likely to test your acting abilities by giving you a section of a script to perform. This helps them evaluate your memorisation and communication skills. After memorising your lines, deliver the script confidently and focus on changing your voice and tone depending on the character you are portraying.
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