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Acting

There is currently widespread concern that access to, and success within, the British acting profession is increasingly dominated by those from privileged class origins. Actor David Morrissey has decried what he calls the slow ‘economic excision of working class actors’ while Julie Walters warns that ‘the way things are now there aren’t going to be any working class actors’. 
 
This case study, completed in 2015, empirically interrogates these claims using data on actors from the BBC Great British Class Survey and 47 qualitative interviews. First, survey data demonstrates that actors from working-class origins are significantly underrepresented within the profession. Second, they indicate that even when those from working-class origins do enter the profession they do not have access to the same economic, cultural and social capital as those from privileged backgrounds. Third, and most significantly, qualitative interviews reveal how these capitals shape the way actors can respond to shared occupational challenges. In particular we demonstrate the profound occupational advantages afforded to actors who can draw upon familial economic resources, legitimate embodied markers of class origin (such as Received Pronunciation) and a favourable typecasting. This class inequality is particularly concerning in acting because of the role actors play in representing social reality on stage, in film and on television; and how these representations, in turn, constitute and reproduce powerful ‘common sense’ understandings of race, gender and class. 
 
You can read more about this research here - http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0038038516629917