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Question: I am doing a project for my school. I was wondering if you had any way of telling me how many people consider their profession acting? or related to acting? Do you know where i could find demographics like that? Any help would be deeply appreciated. --Amanda



Hi Amanda,

I would start with SAG. That's the Screen Actors' Guild. Their website is A little research with SAG can give you an indication of how many professional actors are registered members of SAG, the professional actors' union. I believe the number is over 100,000. Of course, a very small percentage of those actors actually earn even poverty-level income as working actors. So, as for how many people ARE professional actors and how many CONSIDER themselves professional actors...well, those numbers vary greatly.

You should also check with AFTRA. That's the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. That includes newscasters, sportscasters, radio DJs, talk show hosts, and other non-acting performers of TV and radio.. Their numbers are lower than those at SAG, but there is some overlap, as many members belong to both unions.

And then there's AEA, Actors' Equity Association (also known as Equity). That's for professional theatre actors, for all those folks on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in touring companies, and working in theatres all over the place.

There are unions for variety performers, unions in other countries for performers, so many groups in support of the acting professions. I honestly believe that these unions would be the first places to start with your research. It's not going to account for all of the people who do local community theatre, or perhaps those working actors who do non-union work in industrials, videos, and feature films that do not operate under union contracts. Plenty of performers earn a good living doing that, and are not going to show up in the numbers the unions provide. Still, you'll get a good ball-park idea from their numbers.

As for those whose careers "relate to acting," that's going to include agents, managers, assistants, directors, casting directors, writers, crew members of all kinds...and there you're getting into very high numbers. Perhaps a visit to the websites of the ATA (agencies), TMA and COPM (managers), DGA (directors), CSA and CCDA (casting directors), WGA (writers), and IATSE (other crew members) would get you a few numbers there too.

Good luck with your project! I'd love to know what you learn!


Bonnie Gillespie is a Los Angeles casting columnist, the owner of Cricket Feet Management, and the author of Casting Qs: A Collection of Casting Director Interviews.