Actor or Actress?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Grant B, Dec 2, 2002.

  1. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2000
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I always though a female actor was an actress. Lately I have been seeing women described as actors; except when it comes to the academy awards (Best Actress Not Best Female Actor)

    Is this a PC thing or is there something else in the meaning? Is Actress now considered a negative term?
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    33,023
    Likes Received:
    8,082
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Any theatrical performer is an actor while an actress is a woman who is an actor.




    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2000
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks Robert
    It just seems lately the term actress is never used anymore.
     
  4. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    8,311
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    5,610
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Joseph DeMartino
    A lot of old "feminine" occupational titles are disappearing, as women cease to be exceptions in a given profession, and begin to be just part of the workforce. When's the last time you saw the word, "aviatrix"? [​IMG]
    From Shakepeare's time until the 18th century women did not appear in stage plays. Female roles were played by young men. When women started appearing in plays the term "actress" was coined, probably in part to make it clear that the female character in a show was, in fact, being played by a female.
    Similarly the terms "male nurse" and "female" (or "woman") "doctor" are being used less and less often, as more and more members of each sex enter a profession previously dominated by the other. Most people have now seen women who are doctors and men who are nurses, so the words no longer so automatically call up an image of a man or a woman that writers no long see the need to point out the sex of the individual concerned. (If you're writing a article about a hospital and mention "Dr. Sally Jones" or "Nurse John Smith", people aren't going to immediately think they're looking at a typo, as they once would have.)
    There is probably a bit of PC in all this, but mostly it is just the language catching up with the realities of the culure. It isn't quite like referring to the head of a group as the "chair" because "chairman" is deemed sexist, or calling sewer caps "person hole covers". [​IMG]
    An actor is a person who acts. We no longer feel the need to have a different word for a woman who acts.
    Regards,
    Joe
     
  5. JamieD

    JamieD Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2002
    Messages:
    557
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  6. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2000
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Joseph
    Thanks for the interesting history lesson! There is so much knowledge and expertise on this board it always amazes me.
    I was watching "15 years of Biography" and noticed they always attached the title 'Actor' to Female actors; that's what lead to my question.
    In San Francisco I found out many years ago never to assume anything about anybody
     
  7. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    8,311
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    5,610
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Joseph DeMartino
     
  8. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2002
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I just went over the list of my female acting colleagues,
    and yes, they now prefer to be
    called "actors"...
    I never realized this until you mentioned it though...
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For whatever it's worth, I'd like to say I really like Joseph DeMartino's posts in this thread. They can't be improved upon. I like seeing a fuller understanding of the power of language. Words are potent (and they can be devastating).
     
  10. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2000
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  11. Kevin Farley

    Kevin Farley Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2000
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It seems as if an "actor" is more serious than an "actress", like more accomplished. See "The Actor's Studio"...
     
  12. Karl_O

    Karl_O Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If English is not a descendant of a gendered language (Latin, German, Arabic, Sanskit, etc.), the unnecessary sexist language would not exist in the first place.
     

Share This Page