An actor is a theatrical performer, one who represents a character in a dramatic production, or one who behaves as if acting a part (1). But suppose there is an actor who is a woman. What will she be called? For certainly she is quite different from a male actor, in the same way that an actor who is also an astronomer is quite different from an actor who knows nothing of the stars. Naturally, we would call the former an actronomer. Similarly, an actor who is a child is a chactor, and an actor who has never before had sexual intercourse is an actin. It only makes sense.
Therefore, it follows that we should call a woman actor an actress. That way, a waiter who is a woman can be a waitress, a prince who is a woman can be a princess, and so on. Yes, I think we’ve stumbled upon something great.
But, wait! What if an actor is a child and also a woman? Which takes precedence? Is she a child actress or a woman chactor? I guess she could be a chactress… Yes, that works. Phew! Problem solved.
Oh, but see, if we have an actor who is also a musician (an actician, obviously), how could a woman be one? For then she would have to be an actressian, and… Well, I suppose that works. And if she were also a child? A chactressian. Good, good. Perhaps we worried too soon.
But what shall we call the woman version of an African American, elderly, upper middle-class, educated, adopted, single-parent, actor? An Aframeldupmidedopsingparactress? No, no, that’s ridiculous. That sounds like a dinosaur.
Why is this not working anymore? Are we making it too complicated? Let’s take a step back here and remember why we were doing this in the first place: To identify differences. Yes, to distinguish one actor from another actor, based on the characteristics they have.
Perhaps rather than making compound words, we could create entirely new ones! That would be much simpler! That way, someone who is gay and also a woman can be called a lesbian, to distinguish them from gay men, who don’t need their own noun, because they’re already gay.
Sooooo, an actor who is a woman can be called a… Oh, who are we kidding? It will take way too long to come up with all these words and nobody will want to memorize them all! But how else are we to distinguish between different kinds of actors?
Perhaps we ought to narrow that down a little. To make it less complicated, let’s only identify the differences which are relevant to being an actor! Yes, yes, of course. That makes perfect sense. Why didn’t we think of that before?
In which case…let’s see… an actor who is a child is certainly a different kind of actor, for he would have far less experience and would therefore not act as well as an adult! So chactor works!
But no, not necessarily. For just as there can be child prodigies in music, so can there be child prodigies in acting. Natural talent must be taken into account, regardless of experience! In addition, an adult actor may begin acting as an adult, and would therefore have the same amount of experience as a child actor. Perhaps they would act the same way! So perhaps age is not a relevant enough determinant.
But then, what is? Any of the characteristics stated above could affect one’s acting, but by definition, they do not necessarily. Why must we distinguish differences at all? Perhaps this is a pointless endeavor.
Let’s stick to identifying gender. That seems relevant. Good, then, we’re agreed! An actor can be of any age, race, class, level of education, or other status, but must be male unless specifically identified otherwise, in which case she must be called an actress. Case closed.