Thanks to the twitter-verse, I came across a fascinating document that could be of interest to those of you thinking about going out to LA to try your hand at the animal known as TV actor. The document is provided by the Premier Talent Group and details some statistics about this year’s pilot season.

The statistics involve how many pilots were ‘green lit’ (given the go ahead to shoot). How many roles were available (both series regulars and otherwise). There’s a gender breakdown (339 male roles available/274 female) and an age break down (21 roles available in the 50-59 female role bracket)

Another part of the report, and this is what should be taken seriously by up incoming actors, is the percentages of those roles which were filled by “name” and “known” actors, and the percentage that were filled by no-names and unknowns.

When I talk to young playwrights, who primarily think they want the traditional back-in-the-day career as a writer, I try to gently talk about the situation these days. How theatres, like everyone, want to make money and the safest best sometimes are the name and known writers and more than that, dead writers. It’s very hard to compete with a dead writer.

While dead actors would make for a very quiet tv show, this thought circles the same point: it’s hard to compete with the known when you yourself are the unknown.

In the 2011 pilot season:

  • 21.2% of series regulars roles went to bonafide star names
  • 49.5% of series regulars went to former series regulars of major shows
  • 27.3% of series regular roles went to heavy working actors with numerous series recurring roles and/or series regular roles of shows that did not last.
  • 2.0% of series regular roles went to true developmental actors.

Premier Talent Group, 2011 Talent Report, Volume 1v

That developmental actors percentage? Those are the unknowns. What does this mean? Who knows. All knowns were unknown at one point. All statistics are just numbers on a page. What it does mean is that if you think acting is for you, you should know that waltzing into town isn’t going to cut it. It’s not fairy tales or magic. It’s a job with competition that you’re going to have to work for. Are you up for it?

About the author

Lindsay Price