Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: < 5,000
Median weekly earnings: Varies
Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
There are currently around 400 actors, dancers and related professionals employed in South Australia. Over half are employed part-time and most work in the cultural and recreational services industry. More than half of persons in this occupation are female and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile than with around a fifth aged 45 years or older.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Actor

Accredited (Award)

  • Aussie acting sensation, Nicole Kidman captivated audiences with her riveting performance as Virginia Woolf. So convincing was she in the role that she went on to snare the Oscar for Best Actress.

    Talented actors have the skills to keep us glued to cinema screens, our television sets and the stage. Their clever use of characterisation with skilled use of vocal and movement techniques, brings characters to life before our very eyes. To get the chance to perform, they generally go through an audition process. It's more than likely that hundreds of actors will attend the same audition, so it's now or never for these entertainers. Actors have to outdo themselves during auditions, giving the most convincing character reading and proving to artistic directors that only they can do a part justice! Being fully prepared is the key to a successful audition.

  • It is recommended to undertake some formal training in acting to improve your chances of employment, even though there are no specific educational requirements to become an actor. Currently 24% of those in this industry have Bachelor degrees, 11% have Certificate III or IV, 15% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas, 7% have Postgraduate Degrees. While 42% of actors/dancers have no post school qualifications it is strongly recommended that further study is undertaken as this industry is extremely competitive.

    Several courses are available in South Australia that may help improve the skills required to be successful in this industry.

    TAFE SA offers the Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting).

    Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as Introduction to Acting or Project and Protect Your Voice. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

  • The reality also is that productions may only run for a few weeks or months at most, so it's advisable for actors to be prepared to do other work to tide themselves over.

    Some actors progress on to become directors, producers or scriptwriters.

  • Once actors have been chosen and rehearsals begin, it's time for intense study of the script and any professional actor will undertake background research to get a good grasp of the role. Throughout rehearsals, actors memorise lines, rehearse movements, mannerisms, and interactions with other characters. Actors use different methods to immerse themselves in a character. Characterisation is developed with either an externalised approach or a personalised approach. Externalising means, for example, adopting a character's distinctive walk and developing the character from that point. Personalisation is the technique where actors identify with a character from their own life experience to make a character more whole, more believable. Such methods may come naturally to some actors, but these skills are also developed during their training. Another essential quality, which may come naturally but is generally developed through training, is a clear, strong voice that can be altered to suit different characters. Voice projection is not just about having a loud voice. It is equally the ability to whisper on stage and still be heard in the back row of a theatre.

  • Actors work in live and recorded or filmed productions. They need to have determination, self-confidence and the ability to always perform at peak levels. It is also essential that they have a good memory for them to memorise scripts. Film and television actors have the luxury of doing scenes until these are exactly as the director wants them. There's little such luxury for stage actors.

    They also need courage and to have a realistic view of their acting strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Actors perform indoors, in studios and theatres, as well as outdoors on location. They must be prepared to travel for shooting and for touring purposes.

    They attend rehearsals before and between performances. During this time they may discuss their work with the director, perhaps examining ways to make their character more convincing or to improve a scene. Actors also discuss ways in which to improve a production with the rest of the cast. Throughout rehearsals, actors also need to attend wardrobe fittings for costume, publicity calls and photo shoots. All this hard work and preparation culminates in a performance.

    ''I enjoy taking people on a journey and creating a believable character. Working in theatre is what I do best as opposed to TV. Theatre is live and it happens right there in front of an audience. Performances are not doctored and some nights can be brilliant, while others are a disaster,'' says one actor. It's only natural that actors get nervous when performing, and it may be a reaction they have to endure no matter how many times they perform. An actor needs to be confident, versatility is an added bonus. People with a range of skills such as dancing and singing may find more parts open to them. The drive to succeed, dedication, patience and resilience will also help actors get further. In this industry you will receive more rejections than you will offers and there may be a long wait between role offers. A good memory and a high level of stamina to perform at peak level and cope with the demanding work hours are also important.

    Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (SA/NT)
    Phone: 1300 656 513

    Media Resource Centre
    Phone: (08) 8410 0979

    South Australian Film Corporation
    Phone: (08) 8394 2000

    State Theatre Company of South Australia
    Phone: (08) 8415 5333