People have a general understanding of what an actor is and what they do for a living. Just like almost everyone, you might think that actors are defined by the nature of their work and you may be right. However, there is more to an actor than meets the eye.
An actor, in its artistic sense, is literally described as an artist whose canvass is none other than the stage. The term ‘stage’ is now used a figurative speech for the various mediums an actor work on, whether it is really performing on stage or acting in front of a camera.
The word actor is based on the Latin word agere which means “do or act”. An actor is pictured as a person portraying a character in a certain production. The art of acting can be traced as far back and as early as the Greek civilization, making the the forerunner of this type of art form.
Like most professions in the world, acting started out as a simple type of art and demanded little from its actors. Throughout time, as roles and the profession itself evolved, so did overall reception of actors. From being seen on stage to travelling to various locations around, acting, has no doubt, become an iconic profession. However, there is something more to this artistic occupation than the fame, fortune and prestige that usually comes with it.
To broaden your knowledge about this highly-revered profession, here are top ten interesting facts about one of the most sought after occupation in the world:
1.) Singing and dancing were the only skills you needed as an actor back in the days.
The Greeks are regarded as one of the most sophisticated civilizations of all time. This is why it may come as no surprise that acting would originate from them. However, being an actor during those earliest days only required the actor to sing and to dance. These two main talents were already considered as acting back in the day.
During that time, the whole material of the production was only interpreted through a third person point of view. The audiences were only treated to a general overview of the story rather than being given an in-depth look of what the story has to offer.
2.) An actor is also called a thespian.
An actor is also known as a thespian. This term originated from the Greek performer, Thespis. Thespis is a performer from Icaria, who revolutionized the art of acting. He is widely credited as the first performer to act as a character in the play or production. His first ever performance occurred sometime in 534 BC on the famous Theatre Dionysus.
It was because of his pivotal performance that actors are now also called as thespians. According to theatrical legends, Thespis was a mischievous spirit whose theatricals are often the cause of disasters in the theater.
3.) Actors were highly mistrusted during the Middle Ages.
Despite the success of Thespis’ first performance on stage, actors and actresses during that time were still not given the same kind of star treatment that Hollywood actors and actresses are now receiving.
Reputed to be one of the darkest chapters in history, actors during the Middle Ages were highly distrusted and considered as outcasts. They often lived a nomadic life by traveling and performing in various parts of the world, particularly in Europe. Back then, traditional and religious beliefs condemned art as an act of hypocrisy, so those who practiced it were considered hypocrites and outcasts. This unfair belief system even prevented actors from receiving a decent Christian burial.
4.) During the medieval times, the female population was barred from ever performing on stage.
Gender equality was an unheard of term centuries ago. In the medieval world, it was a widely accepted fact that it was disgraceful for women to go and perform on a stage. Actors often played the role of female characters on stage. It was during the English Restoration of 1660, when women started participating in onstage performances.
The misconception ended during Charles II’s reign. It was due to the fact that the king enjoyed seeing actresses performing on stage. The term actress, a term that is generally used to describe female acting performers came about in the year 1700. The very first female actress to grace the stage was British thespian Margaret Hughes.
5.) Back in the day, an actor can be called an actress, while an actress can also be called an actor.
Today, the word actor and actress are terms used to define a male performer from a female performer. Centuries before, the term was used interchangeably to label both performers.
The distinction eventually came from the French word, actrice, which literally translates to a female actor. The last syllable of the word was later changed to ess and used for a female performer.
6.) An actor has different platforms to act on.
Actors initially started performing on stage. Throughout time, the art, along with the profession slowly grew. Part of this development was that actors and actresses now have various “stages” to perform on. Technological advancements have made it possible for the audience to view their favorite entertainers in mediums of their choice.
The actor will no longer just have to act on the stage alone, but can also venture into acting in a television series, joining a radio drama and even starring in a blockbuster movie. Actors today now have the opportunity to expound on their acting prowess and even have the chance to choose the kind of acting career they want to pursue.
7.) Actors can develop their own acting technique.
There are only a few actors, who possess the unique talent to tap into their instincts to bring their characters out. As a result, several notable figures in the acting industry developed certain acting techniques that help aspiring talents to bring out their inner performer. Each technique is styled differently from the other and taps specific areas of the human emotion and experience.
One of the most well-known acting techniques is the Stanislavski’s System which was created by actor Constantin Stanislavski and makes use of emotional memory. For this type of technique, actors use specific memories to channel the same emotions of the character they are portraying. Other actors who developed their own acting techniques of their own include Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, and Viola Spolin.
A great number of Hollywood celebrities swear by these acting techniques for their award winning performances.
8.) An actor’s paycheck does not only come from the movies they make.
Contrary to popular belief, an actor’s paycheck does have several sources aside from just the salary they get from the movies they make. Their other financial sources would also come from endorsements, advertisements and even modeling jobs.
The entertainment business is not the only industry several of our favorite Hollywood celebrities have invested some time in. They also have family-owned businesses, from outside show business, that contribute to their overall income. These famous Hollywood actors devote some of their time on their businesses in between acting jobs. Notable Hollywood actors who have built businesses of their own include Jessica Alba with her Honest Company that offers organic baby and family products.
9.) A voice actor is also considered an actor.
Here’s one kind of acting job that is fit for the talented yet camera shy type of talents. Unlike the regular actor who is seen acting in front of a body of audience or on camera, voice acting would only require the talent’s voice and acting to be generally heard.
They are recognized as among the most talented people in the industry, as they have the ability to provide a series of voices to varying characters. And, these characters are far more complex that what we often see in the film or on the television screen.
The most notable voice actor in the business is Mel Blanc. Blanc is known for his nickname in the industry as “The Man with a Thousand Voices”. His most prominent body of work would be voicing the whole roster of Looney Tunes characters, including Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird and Daffy Duck and Barney Rubble from The Flintstones.
10.) Actresses have gained critical recognition for portraying male characters in their respective productions.
Historically, men have played the roles of women since acting became a serious profession and there is no doubt that they received some recognition for their efforts in this particular field. However, it seems women are also doing well in terms of playing the role of the opposite sex.
Some notable performances of famous actresses, who gained recognition for portraying male leads include Hilary Swank in the movie Boys Don’t Cry as the transgender Brandon Teenaa as well as Hollywood legend Julie Andrews for her role in the film Victor/Victoria.
The acting profession have come a long way since the very first actor stepped out onto the stage. Like any other field of work, actors, have also been subjected to the same criticism and praise that no person outside the industry could really fathom. Whether you are a stage actor or a film actress, being an actor is certainly a profession that deserves to be revered.
Top Ten Interesting Facts about Being an Actor by Marie Skillern