Researchers from the University of Sydney have opened the lid on the acting industry in Australia.

Their survey of 782 working actors revealed dangerously high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress well above the general mean of the Australian population. Alcoholism and substance abuse was also rife within the acting industry.

Female actors complained about sexual harassment and more than a third of those surveyed reported using alcohol to cope with problems relate to their career.

A stunning 80 per cent reported using illegal or prescription drugs.

The study also found “Actors also reported tolerance in the face of otherwise debilitating complaints and ailments associated with their work, often choosing to keep working in circumstances in which they report experiencing serious and often long-term wymptoms,” said Professor Ian Maxwell of Sydney University.

“Actors are highly skilled, low paid workers, who experience anxiety, stress, and most seriously, depression at high levels.

“They drink at a rate that is likely to lead to serious health problems.”

Income stress was identified as a large source of concern for many, followed by harassment, bullying, and sexism.

Many well-known Australian actors have second jobs. Vince Colosimo, the AFI award-winning actor and lead of the Underbelly series told the Herald Sun he works as a tradesman and cleaner. Theatre and film actress, musician and model Alixandra Kupcik makes ends meet by working as a Personal Assistant in the real estate industry and running her own production company.

More than 40 per cent of the survey’s respondents reported difficulty in ‘letting go’ after an emotionally or physically draining performance.

More than 80 per cent reported financial stress as a significant issue in their lives, with 40 per cent earning less than $10,000 in a financial year.

Younger actors reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress in larger numbers than their older counterparts.

Work peaked for actors around the ages of 30 – 32.

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