An actor communicates a character and/or situations to an audience through speech, body language and movement. This usually involves interpreting the work of a writer under the instruction and support of a director, although some work may require the actor to devise a character or improvise the reactions of a character to a situation.
Work varies enormously, from live stage performances of the classics and community theatre to soap operas, radio work and film parts. An actor's role may also involve education, training or therapy, as well as entertainment.
An acting career inevitably incorporates periods of unemployment, underemployment and alternative employment.
It is essential to realise that, on average, actors spend about 80% of their working life 'resting' (i.e. not employed as an actor), so it is important to have other ways of being occupied and generating an income.