Creative industries

Actor (creative industries)

Actor (creative industries)

More than anyone else in the creative industries, actors work across different sectors.  Not only is it common for actors to work in theatre and live events as well as screen, it’s very unusual to find any who don’t. Stars of the screen like Sam Mendes and Judi Dench never would have enjoyed the careers they’ve had if they’d not honed their craft on the stage as well as in film.

As the creative industries converge, there are even more opportunities for actors to work across different sectors. Actor Sam Crane won The Stage award for Innovation after he staged a production of Hamlet within the video game Grand Theft Auto during lockdown, paving the way for actors to work within games as well as on stage and screen.

Increasingly, actors and dancers can diversify into motion-capture (mo-cap).  This is where an actor wears sensors on a bodysuit so that cameras can record their movements from different angles, which are then stored as a 3D database. This 3D character can then be digitally inserted into games or used in films.

Case study – Ace Ruele

Ace Ruele is an actor who now works at the cutting edge of mocap, developing creatures and fantasy characters for games, film and TV.  Through his company, Creature Bionics, he has pioneered a range of digital character-development services.  He devises creatures, creates rigs, trains actors, casts actors and provides the kits through which games, film and TV can produce them.

“As an actor, you just have to wait to get hired,” says Ace. “With Creature Bionics, I sell rigs, I run workshops, I get hired for workshops, I do acting, I cast for acting, someone might hire my mocap system…so I have different streams of income.”

Ace also finds it very satisfying creatively: “The reason why I love it is because, how I am as an individual, if I do something over and over and over again, I switch off, so having the diversity keeps be alive, it keeps me running.”

Additional skills

Ace’s core skill is acting.  “Everything that I do in my workshops and with my character development still comes from the core of acting,” he says. But in order to set up his business, he has had to learn additional skills. These are:

  • Confidence in curiosity – be able to ask “why are we doing this? What’s going on here?” in areas of work that aren’t traditionally an actor’s domain
  • Willingness to learn technology – spend time with games engines and use free tutorials to learn how to use them
  • Giving direction – learn how to give direction to actors in workshop settings
  • Thinking like an entrepreneur – ask where there’s a gap in the way the screen industries are working and figure out how to fill it
  • Marketing – have a strong brand and know how to use it to explain your services and to develop business interest
  • Business administration – know how to contract people and keep accounts.

Tips for developing a business based on acting

"See yourself as an asset. Find your niche."

Ace Ruele
  • Ask yourself if there is something you can do that brings in money on the side, but which is still related to your core skill of acting
  • Use your contacts in the industry. Build relationships. Lean into those you know and get to know some more
  • See every job as an opportunity to create another opportunity
  • Get a good team around you. You can’t do it all yourself. You are going to need people who enjoy working with you
  • Become comfortable around and knowledgeable about technology, because actors are going to be working in digital environments more and more

Related job profiles

Actors in all creative industries