What are the 4 key types of actors?


Whether you’re a professional or a passionate hobbyist, it’s important to know the 4 key types of actors if you want to pursue acting as a career. In this article we’ll take an in-depth look at the different types of actors and how they contribute to the craft.

The four main types of actors are: character actors, leading actors, supporting actors and extras. Each type has its own unique talents and challenges. We’ll explore how they differ from one another, what challenges they may face, as well as how they all work together to bring life to every movie or TV show.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of each type of actor and whether it’s right for you. So let’s get started!

What Does It Mean to Be an Actor?

Whether you want to act on the big screen, in television, or on stage, you need to understand the four key types of actors. Acting is an art form, and one that requires skill and focus. Each actor has their own style and approach to their craft — but understanding the common denominator between them all can help you decide which one is right for you.

The four main types of actors are musical theater actors, film actors, television actors and theater actors. Each type of actor brings different skills to the table.

Musical theater actors have a unique talent for singing and dancing, along with a flair for comedic timing. They specialize in creating dynamic characters within musicals and can bring a show to life through song and dance.

Film actors are trained in cinematic acting technique and specialize in delivering strong performances when on camera. Film acting is an art form that requires a mastery of closeup facial expressions that blend perfectly with dialog delivery.

Television actors are experts at creating dynamic characters within series or episodic stories. They also have a talent for playing light-hearted comedic characters as well as more serious dramatic roles.

Finally, theater actors must be able to project their voice to fill large auditoriums while conveying emotion to their audience members who may be several meters away from them. Theater portrays stories that help teach lessons about life while encouraging audiences to think more deeply about modern topics like politics or business ethics.

Types of Actors and Roles They Commonly Play

To understand the different types of actors, it’s important to understand the general roles that actors can fill. Generally speaking, there are four key types of actors: leading actors, supporting actors, extras, and stunt performers. Each actor type is incredibly important to making a production successful.

Leading Actors

Leading actors play the main characters in a production. They’re usually at the center of the story, taking on an active role in driving the plot forward. Leading actors often require strong acting and improvisation skills as well as a knack for developing believable characters.

Supporting Actors

Supporting actors are slightly less visible than leading ones, but they still play a vital role in driving the narrative forward. Supporting roles may sometimes overlap with lead roles but they generally have fewer lines and scenes than leads do. They also tend to be more background characters but can sometimes be quite important to the story.


Extras are sometimes simply referred to as “background” or “background talent.” This type of actor typically has no speaking lines or character focus. Instead, extras are hired to add realism and depth to crowd shots and other background scenes. This group includes people like waitstaff, pedestrians walking down a street, or office workers typing away at a computer—anyone who adds life and energy to whatever is happening onscreen without stealing attention away from the main action.

Stunt Performers

Last but not least, stunt performers are responsible for executing difficult physical actions during production that leading or supporting cast members may not feel comfortable doing themselves—such as fight scenes or dangerous stunts that require expertise and skill from trained professionals in order

A. Movie Actors

When it comes to actors, one of the first things that come to mind is movie actors. And why wouldn’t they — after all, Hollywood is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world! Movie actors make a living off of performing in feature films, as well as starring roles and smaller parts.

There are lots of different types within this category, from leading roles and supporting characters to character actors who take on smaller character roles. Perhaps one of the most sought-after jobs for movie actors is a leading role — these are typically bigger parts with more screen time that offer lots of exposure.

Here’s a quick rundown on the other types of movie actors:

  • Supporting Actors: These are roles that revolve around secondary characters who exist as part of the leading actor’s story and have slightly less screen time.
  • Character Actors: These play small but memorable roles who often have staying power throughout a movie. They may not have a lot of lines but they can still make an impact!
  • Background Actors: This category includes extras and non-speaking roles, offering the opportunity to be part of a large production without getting too much attention.

B. TV Actors

TV actors have a unique set of skills that you might not know about—especially if you’re just getting into the acting world.

Acting Styles

The most prominent TV acting style is the sitcom style. This requires quick dialog delivery and the development of unique characters over time. Theater-based actors are also relevant in TV, as they can bring an intensity to their characters and are capable of playing larger-than-life roles. Stand-up comedians can provide comedy relief and add humor to shows, while improvisational actors add unexpected plot twists and come up with ad-lib scenarios.

Experience Needed

TV actors need experience on a range of different platforms. Aspiring actors must be able to prepare for auditions, memorize lines, and develop stage presence in front of cameras—both for studio recordings and for live broadcasts. They should also understand how their performances fit into a larger production, such as working with other cast members and crew members.

When auditioning or working on a television show, an actor should be familiar with the basics like scripts, camera angles, lighting cues, etc., but also with some of the more complex elements such as story arcs and character motivation. Plus, having an understanding of character arcs helps you become more prepared when you land that major role in your next big project!

C. Theater Actors

Do you know about theater actors? Theater actors are performers who act in live productions, such as plays and musicals. Theater actors are typically more well-known than movie or TV actors, and the job takes intense dedication.

On top of memorizing multiple lines and blocking, theater acting also requires very specialized skills. Theater acting often requires physical body movements and emotive facial expressions that can elicit a specific response from an audience.


Voice is an important skill for theater actors. They use their voices to bring characters to life, with accents, intonations, and varying sound levels adding to their performance. Theater acting also requires vocal projection—the ability to project your voice so that it can be heard throughout the theater.


Improvisation is another key skill for theater acting. This gives an actor the opportunity to take risks in order to further develop a character or story line in an unexpected way—a flare that can leave audiences entranced.

Most importantly, the ability to stay in character – no matter what happens – is essential if you want to become a successful theater actor. It takes great focus and discipline, but with practice, you can master this essential skill!

D. Commercial Actors

You might not have known that there’s a fourth type of actor, and it’s actually the most common of the four: commercial actors. They are responsible for appearing in commercials and advertisements, such as on television, radio and print media.

Commercial actors must have the right attitude and look to promote a product or service. Their job requires them to be professional and reliable as they often represent a brand or product. This usually involves memorizing scripts, learning lines quickly and portraying the character in a believable way.

The commercial actor needs to be able to communicate their message clearly in short bursts. Reciting long commercial scripts can also be quite challenging for some actors.

It’s important to note that this kind of acting is quite different from other types of acting since the focus is more on promoting a particular product or service than telling a story. Commercial actors need to be comfortable following instructions from directors, working with producers/directors from creative teams, maintaining composure during stressful shoot days, having enthusiasm for the product/service they are promoting and taking direction from casting directors.

How to Become an Actor

So, you now know the four key types of actors, but how do you become one? While there is no guaranteed path to success in any field, understanding what it takes to make it as an actor can help you navigate the industry.

You should begin by familiarizing yourself with the different types of actors and the roles they play. This will ensure that you have a better understanding of which category best suits the style of acting you prefer. Then, research and develop your skills through acting classes and workshops. You’ll also need to get headshots for auditions, build a portfolio and create an online presence on social media. Networking is also essential for finding acting jobs and connecting with other industry professionals. Additionally, it’s important to stay up to date on industry news, trends, casting calls and workshops in order to increase your chances of getting noticed. Lastly, consider getting an agent or joining a talent agency to help you land acting roles.

By following these steps — doing your research, developing your skills, networking, staying up-to-date and getting an agent — you’ll be well on your way to becoming an actor who can thrive in any one of the four key types of acting roles.

Acting Agencies and What They Do

If you’re just starting out in the acting world, or looking to take your career to the next level, you’ll want to get connected with an acting agency. Acting agencies can help you find gigs, castings and auditions that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Here are the four main types of acting agencies and what they do:

  1. Theatrical Agencies specialize in finding casting agents for theater, film and television roles. They usually have direct contacts with casting agents and producers so they can get their talent onstage or on-screen quickly.
  2. Commercial Agencies are experts in finding work for television commercials, infomercials, radio spots and print jobs. They work with advertising firms to get their talent booked for different projects.
  3. Talent Management Agencies focus on guiding actors through every step of their careers—from helping them find roles to taking care of their bookings and legal needs. They are a source of valuable advice and should be seen as partners in building your career as an actor.
  4. Voice-Over Agencies specialize in helping voice-over actors find work in radio, television, film and video games. They typically have connections with production studios who need voice actors for animated features or documentaries, and help connect the right actor with the right project!

No matter what type of acting agency you attend, having a good relationship with one is key to a successful acting career!

Tips on How to Land Your First Acting Job

Getting your first job as an actor is often the toughest part. Once you get your foot in the door, it’s easier to move up the ladder and stay busy. But how do you land that first job? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Know Your Type

The entertainment industry is full of different types of actors. It helps to have an idea of which type best describes you and your skill set, such as whether you’re a character actor, leading man, comedian or diva. Understanding which category to focus on can help make finding your first job a lot easier.

Develop A Reel

Having a portfolio of professional-quality material that showcases your talents is key for landing a great role. Whether it’s clips from theater shows or videos of auditions that didn’t work out – use anything you have that shows off your acting chops. A good reel shows casting directors what they can expect from you in terms of performance, so be sure it includes only your best work.

Network Like Crazy

It takes more than luck to break into the business – networking is essential when it comes to getting an audition (and then getting the job!). Make sure you attend networking events for actors and connect with other professionals in the industry so people are aware of who you are and what kind of actor you are looking to be casted as.

Benefits of Working as an Actor

If you’re looking for a career that’s exciting, creative, and unpredictable, then you might want to consider becoming an actor. From the inner satisfaction of bringing characters to life on stage and screen, to being able to travel the world—there are many advantages of working as an actor.

Financial Benefits

Though it may not seem like it at first, there is potential for a lucrative career as an actor. It may take time and hard work, but there is certainly opportunity – with some Hollywood stars earning up to $20 million per film!

Social Interactions

Many actors work together as an ensemble in their projects, which helps them establish meaningful relationships with talented people from different backgrounds. Actors also get the chance to collaborate with directors, writers, and production staff – all of whom can help them improve their craft.

Creative Satisfaction

The creative satisfaction of bringing a character to life on screen or stage is unrivaled. It’s rewarding to portray someone that you created from scratch and having your voice heard through your craft—all while entertaining and moving audiences from around the world.


Actors have the freedom of choice when it comes to their projects; whether it’s theater roles in big cities, TV commercials for a local business or traveling around the world for feature films – actors get the chance to experience it all!


From the action hero to the comedic actor, understanding these four key types of actors can help you decide which type is best suited for your film or play. Each type of actor has a specific set of skills, and depending on what you’re looking for, these skills can be used to create amazing performances.

Though it’s good to have some knowledge of the different types of actors, the best way to ensure a successful production is to have a good director in place who can recognize and bring out the best in each actor. That way, no matter the type, the actors are able to bring the story to life.

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