When it comes to the acting profession, many aspiring actors and actresses spend decades pursuing dreams of fame and fortune. For the vast majority of performers, that opportunity will never come; thousands of people struggle for years without achieving any level of fame. The requirements for success in Hollywood are simple, but many performers never reach the highest echelons of the acting profession. Most of the top stars in Hollywood are beautiful and talented and possess a strong stage presence. At the very least, the most successful performers fall into two of the aforementioned categories.
One of the most important traits successful performers share is a striking appearance. Performers that make an impression on viewers usually have a memorable face or body. Plain people rarely make a splash on the big screen, mostly because they don’t stand out in viewers’ memories. Not all stars are attractive, of course. Many of Hollywood’s top stars have a standout feature, an unusual face, or a particularly large or small frame. Although John Goodman does not look like most leading men, he is well known for his large size and dramatic facial features. Rachel Dratch is another prime example. The “Saturday Night Live” star has landed roles in numerous big-name movies, despite the fact that she is not classically attractive. Her unique face-not to mention her outstanding comedic talent-set her apart from the crowd.
When it comes to leading ladies, however, beauty is a distinct asset. Most of Hollywood’s most successful actresses are dramatically beautiful in a way that makes them stand out. Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, and Jessica Alba are shining examples of women whose beauty plays a big factor in their appeal. These three women regularly make it onto most beautiful lists, magazine covers, talk shows, and gossip websites. The same holds true for leading men. Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper, and Ryan Reynolds get just as much attention for their appearances as they do for their acting abilities. In many cases, actors’ looks are more important than their talent. Many viewers look to television and movies for an escape from reality, and beautiful performers help feed the fantasy.
One of the most obvious common traits for successful Hollywood performers is the ability to act. Talent is important for any actor or actress, and even more so for people who do not fall into the stereotypical definition of beauty. A great performer has immediate appeal, no matter what he or she looks like. Actresses like Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren are known more for their stellar acting abilities than for their beauty. Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken are in the same position. They do not fall into the traditional definition of stunningly attractive leading men, but their acting abilities outstrip the talents of their more handsome peers.
Contrary to popular belief, acting is not the most important common trait among Hollywood’s biggest stars. Many popular actresses and actors who have been criticized for their acting abilities still continue to get regular job offers. In those cases, beauty and likeability play a big role. Audience approval is an important factor in casting. A performer who looks great on screen and gets a positive reaction from fans can be successful regardless of his or her acting abilities.
An actor or actress who is both beautiful and talented will not make it as a star in Hollywood without an important trait: stage presence. This intangible trait is nearly impossible to teach, but is crucial for a performer. It allows a person to pop on screen and look good in front of the cameras. It is possible for an actor or actress to improve on some of the factors that go into a strong presence, such as sparkling eyes, confident physical movements, and a lively sense of energy. When it comes to film and television actors, stage presence is often measured by a screen test. The actor is placed in front of the camera so the director can tell if he or she comes to life on screen or fades into the background. A strong stage presence is perhaps the most crucial trait shared by the top actors and actresses in Hollywood. Without it, performances would not be pleasant to watch on screen and viewers would soon lose interest.
Not all of Hollywood’s top stars possess extreme beauty, stellar acting abilities, and a strong screen presence. The more completely a performer embodies each of the three categories, however, the more entertaining he or she is to watch and the higher a star can climb.
by Zack Mandell