How to Become an Actor

Talent Canada
Provincial governments expect an "average" job outlook for actors and comedians into 2030
Average green-arrow-up
5K+ jobs on Backstage
ACTRA, Canadian Actors' Equity Association, Professional Association of Canadian Theatres , Actors’ Fund of Canada ,

John Tench is an instructor at the Toronto Film School’s Acting for Film, TV, and the Theatre Diploma program. He is also a working actor and director. He has appeared in numerous film, theatre and TV productions including American Gods, Supernatural, Murdoch Mysteries and as voice and motion capture talent in video games such as T Bone Grady in Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

The dream of becoming an actor can stem from a desire to perform in the spotlight and entertain an audience, or, for a short time, pretend to be someone entirely different. Actors are storytellers and help us all understand various aspects of the human condition. They bring ideas and stories to life and can help bring a focus to important social issues. They can give us all a means to escape our day-to-day reality.

But can the dream of becoming an actor translate into earning a good living while doing so? The short answer is “yes,” if you work hard and hone your craft.

The film and television industry in Canada employs people in every Canadian province across a diversity of skill sets and trades, including actors. Over the last decade, the industry has more than doubled in size. Despite the industry operating at full capacity for just half of 2020/21 (the pandemic, of course, took its toll), total production volume across Canada still reached $9.3 billion, according to the Motion Picture Association, stimulating $11.27 billion in GDP and creating more than 216,660 jobs for creative Canadians working in a wide range of roles.

Much of the projected employment growth for actors is due to recovery from COVID-19 in 2020. Although many theatres and production companies stopped performances during the pandemic, demand for actors is recovering as these establishments and productions resume operations.

Streaming services and other online-only platforms are expected to continue to drive employment demand for actors as the number of shows produced and the volume of content increases. There are a lot more opportunities and it’s poised to get better.

If you are interested in becoming an actor, this Career Guide will outline some of the training and career options for actors in Canada, and everything you need to know to find the right career path to match your personal and professional interests in this profession.

What does an actor do?

Actors perform roles in motion picture, television, theatre, and radio productions as well as video games and other performing arts venues to entertain a variety of audiences. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Some of the things actors do include:

  • Preparing for and attending auditions
  • Reviewing scripts and memorizing lines
  • Researching and studying a role to get into character
  • Rehearsing lines with other actors
  • Memorizing and practising stage cues
  • Listening to and implementing instruction and feedback from producers and directors
  • Acting or voice acting in television or radio shows, movies, plays, video games or commercials
  • Training and researching for a role or character
  • Promoting themselves through various media
  • Building a professional relationship with an agent