What Is An Actor?

By Darryl Green

  • An actor is a very broad term that refers to a person who acts or performs a character in a production. The term actor can be applied to many different type of performances. For example, an actor can perform in a movie. An actor can perform in a television program. An actor can perform in a theatrical production. Actors can even perform voice-overs in radio commercials or as cartoon characters.
    In addition to the different types of performance outlets, there are also many different types or categories of actors. There are lead actors, character actors, doubles and extras.

    Lead Actor

    A lead actor is the actor or actors who perform the primary role in a production. Lead actors may also be referred to as the principal actor or star of the show.

    Character Actor

    A character actor is an actor who usually performs a supporting role in a production. A character actor may play a one-dimensional, stereotypical character, such as a “thug” character or a stereotypical gay person.


    A double is an actor who stands in for a lead actor in scenes that might be too dangerous or too revealing for the lead actor, such as a body double or a stunt double.

    Extra/Background Actor

    An extra is an actor who performs in the background of a scene, in order to give the illusion that the scene is real life. An extra or background actor usually has no speaking role, or a very brief speaking role.

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