An actor, depending on his or her level of professional development, has many different roles and responsibilities. Generally an actor must be self-motivated and interested in promoting his or her abilities by interacting with other professionals in the career as well as continually improving his or her acting skills. Actors must be willing to try new roles and to constantly seek new options to land the roles that will help establish them within the acting profession.

At the career's most basic level an actor should be able to memorize and recite lines, provide an emotional response in the dialogue when appropriate, and actually enter into the part so that the character the actor is playing becomes real and authentic. A good actor is able to do this even when reading "cold". Reading cold refers to simply picking up a script at an audition and being able to enter the role effortlessly to be able to secure the part. Practicing, rehearsing and learning new techniques to expand the current abilities of the actor is a daily activity and one that is essential for a dynamic career.

Actors attend auditions to attempt to get a role that they can play. The actor will then rehearse the role, often with the help of a drama coach, and will be required to repeat this process as often as required. In live productions the actor does not have the option to do the line or role over, so every performance must be as close to perfect as possible. Those actors on television or in movie roles have the opportunity to repeat filming of mistakes, but still they strive for perfection the first time. Actors, unless they have reached a level of fame, often have part or full time jobs in addition to their acting careers.

Common work activities include:

  • Memorizing, rehearsing and learning lines and stage commands.
  • Working with other actors in character to provide an authentic and smoothly flowing production free from errors.
  • Being able to literally "become" another character, even if it is a personality dramatically different from the actor's own.
  • Attending auditions and networking with peers, directors, casting companies and agents.
  • Completing formal training in acting or working with a vocal coach to increase abilities and learn new techniques.

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