If you dream of seeing your name in lights on Broadway or alongside Leonardo DiCaprio on a movie poster, you're not alone. Acting -- a notoriously competitive and unpredictable career -- is the dream of many women. But don't let the negatives stop you. Armed with some key facts about lifestyle and career options, you could be the next big thing. Just be prepared to wait a few tables on your path to the top!
First, the harsh truth: overall, male actors have more roles to choose from. There were significantly fewer leading roles for women than men, and about half the number of supporting roles for females than men in 2009, according to the Screen Actors Guild. Competition is tough. Yet, that doesn't mean there aren't many job for actresses -- there were more than 18,000 actress jobs that year across the United States. While not every role is a starring one in the next Hollywood blockbuster, take every opportunity to gain valuable experience and hone your craft.
Successful actresses can be very well paid. Cameron Diaz, for example, made $34 million in 2012. And don't think that if you haven't made it by aged 30, you'll never make it. The Hollywood actress power list in 2012 mainly features women over 40. Of the top 10 highest paid women, six are over 40 years old. The rest are in their 30s, except for the youngest woman on the list, Kristen Stewart, who is just 22. So don't give up on your career too early.
Though the median pay of $17.44 per hour is a little more than the national average wage, actresses early on in their careers can spend a lot of their time out of work -- or, at least out of acting work -- according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Actors often make an extra buck waiting tables or doing temporary office or manual labor work between roles. And women made up a good percentage of the 1,300 actors employed at theme and amusement parks in 2011. Hey, someone has to play Minnie Mouse. Consider every job you do as a part of your life experience, making you a better actress in the long run.
We all know Los Angeles is THE place to be. But the next best place to be if you want to be an actress is the New York area, including the nearby states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the BLS. Texas and Louisiana also make the list for highest number of acting roles available. Nonetheless, smart actresses might want to try New Mexico, where the competition for places compared to available roles is most promising. But let's face it -- if your dream is to work with the biggest names in the business, then LA is the place to be.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- SAG-AFTRA: Latest Casting Data Follows Historical Trends and Continues to Exclude People with Disabilities
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Women in the Labor Force: A Databook
- Forbes: Hollywood's Top-Earning Actresses
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011; Actors
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.