Actors from the Comédie-Française c. 1720.

An actor (often actress for females; see terminology) is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern mediums such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers".[1] The actor's interpretation of their role pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art or, more commonly; to act, is to create, a character in performance.[2]

Formerly, in some societies, only men could become actors, and women's roles were generally played by men or boys.[3][when?] When used for the stage, women occasionally played the roles of prepubescent boys.[4][when?]


After 1660 in England, when women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress were initially used interchangeably for female performers, but later, influenced by the French actrice, actress became the commonly used term for women in theater and film. The etymology is a simple derivation from actor with ess added.[5] However, when referring to groups of performers of both sexes, actors is preferred.[6] Actor is also used before the full name of a performer as a gender-specific term. Within the profession, the re-adoption of the neutral term dates to the 1950–1960s, the post-war period when the contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed.[7] "When The Observer and The Guardian published their new joint style guide in 2010, it stated "Use ["actor"] for both male and female actors; do not use actress except when in name of award, e.g. Oscar for best actress." [6] The authors of the style guide stated that "actress comes into the same category as authoress, comedienne, manageress, 'lady doctor', 'male nurse' and similar obsolete terms that date from a time when professions were largely the preserve of one sex (usually men, see male as norm). As Whoopi Goldberg put it in an interview with the paper: 'An actress can only play a woman. I'm an actor – I can play anything.'"[6] The UK performers' union Equity has no policy on the use of "actor" or "actress". An Equity spokesperson said that the union does not believe that there is a consensus on the matter and stated that the "...subject divides the profession." [6] In 2009, the Los Angeles Times stated that "Actress" remains the common term used in major acting awards given to female recipients[8] (e.g., Academy Award for Best Actress).

With regard to the cinema of the United States, the gender-neutral term "player" was common in film in the silent film era and the early days of the Motion Picture Production Code, but in the 2000s in a film context, it is generally deemed archaic. However, "player" remains in use in the theatre, often incorporated into the name of a theatre group or company, such as the American Players, the East West Players, etc. Also, actors in improvisational theatre may be referred to as "players".[9]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Akteur
Alemannisch: Schauspieler
العربية: ممثل
aragonés: Actor
asturianu: Actor
Avañe'ẽ: Mba'eapohára
azərbaycanca: Aktyor
تۆرکجه: اویونچو
বাংলা: অভিনেতা
Bân-lâm-gú: Ián-oân
беларуская: Акцёр
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Актор
भोजपुरी: एक्टर
български: Актьор
bosanski: Glumac
brezhoneg: Aktour
català: Actor
Чӑвашла: Актёр
Cebuano: Aktor
čeština: Herec
Cymraeg: Actor
davvisámegiella: Neavttár
Deutsch: Schauspieler
eesti: Näitleja
Ελληνικά: Ηθοποιός
español: Actor
Esperanto: Aktoro
euskara: Aktore
فارسی: هنرپیشه
føroyskt: Sjónleikari
français: Acteur
Frysk: Akteur
Gaeilge: Aisteoir
Gàidhlig: Actair
galego: Actor
贛語: 演員
ગુજરાતી: અભિનેતા
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Yên-yèn
한국어: 배우
Հայերեն: Դերասան
हिन्दी: अभिनेता
hrvatski: Glumac
Ido: Aktoro
Bahasa Indonesia: Pemeran
íslenska: Leikari
italiano: Attore
עברית: שחקן
Basa Jawa: Aktor
ಕನ್ನಡ: ನಟ
ქართული: მსახიობი
қазақша: Актер
Kiswahili: Mwigizaji
Kreyòl ayisyen: Aktè
kurdî: Lîstikvan
Кыргызча: Актёр
Latina: Histrio
latviešu: Aktieris
Lëtzebuergesch: Schauspiller
lietuvių: Aktorius
Limburgs: Aktäör
la .lojban.: xeldraci
lumbaart: Atur
magyar: Színész
मैथिली: अभिनेता
македонски: Глумец
മലയാളം: അഭിനേതാവ്
मराठी: अभिनेता
მარგალური: არტისტი
مصرى: ممثل
Bahasa Melayu: Pelakon
монгол: Жүжигчин
Nederlands: Acteur
Nedersaksies: Akteur
नेपाली: अभिनेता
日本語: 俳優
нохчийн: Актёр
norsk nynorsk: Skodespelar
Novial: Aktore
occitan: Actor
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Aktor
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਅਦਾਕਾਰ
پنجابی: اداکار
پښتو: لوبگر
ភាសាខ្មែរ: តួប្រុស
polski: Aktor
português: Ator
Ripoarisch: Schauspeller
română: Actor
Runa Simi: Aranway pukllaq
русиньскый: Актер
русский: Актёр
संस्कृतम्: अभिनेता
Scots: Actor
shqip: Aktori
සිංහල: නළුවා
Simple English: Actor
سنڌي: اداڪار
slovenčina: Herec
slovenščina: Igralec (umetnik)
ślůnski: Szauszpiler
Soomaaliga: Atoore
کوردی: ئەکتەر
српски / srpski: Глумац
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Glumci
Basa Sunda: Aktor
svenska: Skådespelare
Tagalog: Artista
தமிழ்: நடிகர்
తెలుగు: నటులు
тоҷикӣ: Ҳунарпеша
Türkçe: Oyuncu
українська: Актор
اردو: اداکار
Vahcuengh: Canghheiq
vèneto: Ator
Tiếng Việt: Diễn viên
文言: 優伶
Winaray: Aktor
吴语: 演员
ייִדיש: אקטיאר
粵語: 演員
Zazaki: Kayker
žemaitėška: Aktuorios
中文: 演員
डोटेली: अभिनेता