Instigator / Con

Actors can be great leaders


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 2 votes and with 6 points ahead, the winner is...

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Last updated date
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Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
Voting period
Two weeks
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Multiple criterions
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Round 1
While it is true that actors often have charisma and public speaking skills, there are several reasons why we should be skeptical of the idea that they can be great leaders.

Point 1: Acting and leadership require different skills and expertise

Acting and leadership may seem similar on the surface, as both involve the ability to communicate effectively and persuade others. However, they require different sets of skills and expertise. Actors are trained to play a role and portray a character, while leaders are responsible for making decisions, solving problems, and managing resources.

Point 2: Actors may not have the necessary real-world experience

In addition to the specific skills required for leadership, a good leader also needs to have a deep understanding of the context in which they are operating. This includes knowledge of the industry, the needs of their constituents, and the challenges they are facing. Actors, on the other hand, may not have this kind of real-world experience. While they may be skilled at pretending to be leaders on screen, this does not necessarily translate to their ability to lead in the real world.

Point 3: Celebrity status does not necessarily equate to leadership ability

Many actors are well-known celebrities with a large following. However, being famous does not automatically make someone a good leader. In fact, the distractions and demands of celebrity life may even hinder a person's ability to lead effectively.

Point 4: There are many other qualities that are important for leadership

While charisma and public speaking skills are certainly important for leadership, they are not the only qualities that matter. Leaders also need to be able to listen to others, make tough decisions, and handle difficult situations. These are qualities that may not be as closely associated with actors.


In conclusion, while actors may have some of the skills and qualities that are important for leadership, there are several reasons why we should be skeptical of the idea that they can be great leaders. It is important to consider the specific expertise and real-world experience that are necessary for effective leadership, as well as the many other qualities that are important for this role.

I. Resolution Analysis 

The resolution, as stated, is “Actors can be great leaders.” I will analyze this resolution in terms of definitions, burden of proof, and overall winning conditions for each side. 

1. Definitions (from Oxford) 

a. Actor: a person whose profession is acting on the stage, in movies, or on television
b. Can: be able to 
c. Great: of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average.
d. Leader: the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country 

There are a lot of other definitions available for the first and last two words, but I think I can win this debate with arguments alone, with no need for semantic hair-splitting. 

2. Burden of Proof 

As the side making the affirmative claim (PRO), I will voluntarily assume the burden of proof. Again, we could play BoP ping-pong, but that’s unnecessary, since I have sufficient evidence to prove my claim. 

3. Resolution of Each Side 

PRO claims that actors can be great leaders. 
CON negates this resolution, so he claims that actors cannot be great leaders. 

4. Winning Conditions 

The key word here in the resolution is “can.”  
In order to prove that something can be something, I only need to give one example.  
Therefore, the winning conditions are such: 
PRO wins if he shows: 
  • An example of an actor and great leader 
CON wins if he shows: 
  • All of PRO’s examples are either not an actor or not a great leader 
  • Or, actors have a fundamental quality that precludes every single one of them from being a great leader 
II. Constructive Arguments 

I will now show a variety of world leaders who are/were actors and great leaders.  

A. Volodymyr Zelensky                                                                                                                                                                             '
  1. Actor? Yes. He played a starring role in the TV series Servant of the People. [1] 
  2. Great leader? Yes. Throughout the Russo-Ukrainian War, he has shown extraordinary leadership, more than enough to qualify him as a great leader, as described by several secondary sources. [2] [3] [4] [5] 
B.Ronald Reagan 
  1. Actor? Yes. He played in many Hollywood films. [6] 
  2. Great leader? Yes. According to several rankings of presidential performance from accredited sources, he has consistently been ranked “considerably above the normal or average.” [7] 
 C. Arnold Schwarzenegger 
  1. Actor? Yes, and also one of the most famous ones of all time. [8] 
  2. Great leader? Yes. Although his legacy has been debated, he accomplished numerous reforms as Governor of California, including implementing water conservation standards, increasing diversity in government, and improving outdated infrastructure. [9] 
III. Rebuttals 

My opponent’s arguments are completely irrelevant. They all support the notion that, “Not all actors are qualified to be leaders.” This is irrelevant to the resolution, “Actors can be great leaders.”

IV. Conclusion 

I have given three examples of an actor being a great leader, and my opponent, in order to win, must prove that all three of them are either not an actor or not a great leader – or that actors, fundamentally, cannot be great leaders. 

I have fulfilled my side of the burden of proof, and look forward to my opponent’s response. 

V. Sources


Round 2


The motion being debated is "actors can be great leaders." While it is certainly possible for actors to possess leadership skills and to use their influence and public platform to make a positive impact, it is important to consider the various factors that contribute to effective leadership and to recognize that being an actor does not necessarily make someone a great leader.


A. Volodymyr Zelensky     
While Zelensky may have demonstrated strong leadership during the Russo-Ukrainian War, it is not necessarily the case that his background as an actor has played a significant role in his leadership abilities.

There are several other factors that may have contributed to Zelensky's leadership during this time, including his political experience and the support of his team and advisors. It is also worth considering the context in which he was leading and the challenges he faced during the war.

In addition, it is important to consider the credibility of the sources cited in the original statement. Are they reliable sources with expertise on leadership and the specific context in which Zelensky was leading? Have they considered a range of perspectives on Zelensky's leadership, or are they presenting a biased viewpoint?
Overall, it is important to approach claims about an individual's leadership abilities with a critical eye and to consider a range of factors, rather than solely relying on one aspect of their background or character.

B. Ronald Reagan

As the opposition, I would argue that while Ronald Reagan may have been a successful president in some regards, it is not necessarily accurate to claim that he was a "great leader" based on the criteria of being a "great actor."

First, it is important to note that the idea that "great actors can be great leaders" is a subjective and unproven claim. There is no clear evidence or research to support the idea that acting ability is directly correlated with leadership skills. In fact, many successful leaders throughout history have not been known for their acting abilities.

Furthermore, Reagan's presidency was not without controversy and criticism. He was often accused of being out of touch with the concerns and needs of ordinary Americans, and his policies disproportionately benefited the wealthy while harming marginalized and low-income communities.

For example, Reagan's economic policies, including tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to social programs, contributed to the widening income inequality gap in the United States. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the top 1% of Americans saw their incomes rise by 157% from 1979 to 2007, while the bottom 20% saw their incomes rise by just 20%. This trend has continued in the decades since Reagan's presidency, leading to significant economic and social disparities in the country.

Additionally, Reagan's foreign policy, including his support for authoritarian regimes and his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, has been widely criticized.
In conclusion, while Ronald Reagan may have been a successful president in some regards, it is not accurate to claim that he was a "great leader" based on the criteria of being a "great actor." His presidency was marked by controversial and harmful policies that had significant negative impacts on many Americans and on the country as a whole.

 C. Arnold Schwarzenegger

There are several points that can be made in a rebuttal to the statement that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a great leader as Governor of California. Here are a few potential arguments:

  1. Schwarzenegger's record on environmental issues was mixed. While it is true that he implemented water conservation standards, he also supported the expansion of offshore oil drilling and opposed efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This suggests that his commitment to environmental protection may have been limited.
  2. Schwarzenegger's efforts to increase diversity in government were insufficient. While he did appoint some people of color to high-level positions, the overall diversity of his administration did not significantly increase. Additionally, he faced criticism for appointing mostly men and white individuals to his cabinet.
  3. Schwarzenegger's infrastructure improvements were largely focused on highways and roads, rather than addressing other pressing needs such as affordable housing or public transportation. This may have benefited some groups more than others and failed to address the root causes of California's infrastructure challenges.
  4. Schwarzenegger's governance style was often criticized as being authoritarian and dismissive of the legislative process. He frequently used executive orders and vetoes to bypass the state legislature, leading to accusations of bypassing democratic checks and balances.
Overall, while it is true that Schwarzenegger accomplished some reforms as Governor of California, it is important to consider the full context of his leadership and the potential limitations and drawbacks of his policies.

Moving on, from the rebuttals I would like to further concrete my previous arguments with more subject and sources

  1. Leadership is a complex and multifaceted quality that requires a range of skills and characteristics.
  • According to research on leadership, effective leaders possess a variety of traits such as emotional intelligence, communication skills, self-awareness, integrity, and the ability to inspire and motivate others (source: Forbes).
  • Being an actor may involve some of these skills, such as the ability to communicate effectively and to connect with an audience, but it does not guarantee that someone has all of the qualities that are necessary for effective leadership.
      2. Leadership also involves taking on a range of responsibilities and making difficult decisions.
  • Great leaders are often responsible for guiding and directing the efforts of a team or organization, and they must be able to make tough decisions that are in the best interests of their followers (source: Harvard Business Review).
  • While actors may have to make some decisions in their careers, such as choosing roles or managing their public image, they may not have the same level of experience or expertise in decision-making as someone who has held leadership positions in other fields.
      3. The public perception of actors may also affect their ability to be perceived as effective leaders.
  • The entertainment industry is often viewed as being superficial and focused on fame and glamour, which can make it difficult for actors to be taken seriously as leaders (source: Forbes).
  • This perception may be compounded by the fact that actors are often in the public eye and may be judged more harshly for their personal conduct or any missteps they make.
In conclusion, while it is certainly possible for actors to be great leaders, it is important to recognize that leadership is a complex and multifaceted quality that requires a range of skills and characteristics. Being an actor does not necessarily make someone a great leader, and the public perception of actors may also affect their ability to be perceived as effective leaders.


Source: Harvard Business Review - "What Makes a Great Leader" -

I. Defense 

Because of the use of “can” in the resolution, I only need a single example in order to win. My opponent has addressed my three examples, and I will focus on the strongest one that supports my resolution.

As such, I drop: 
  • Ronald Reagan 
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger 
As such, I extend: 
  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy 
My opponent has not proven that Zelenskyy is not an actor, nor a great leader. Therefore, this one example alone proves the resolution in my favor. 

II. Rebuttals 

Because the majority of my opponent’s arguments don’t address the resolution, I won’t criticize any specific evidence, but rather the contentions in general. 
My opponent, in his argument, put forth three main contentions. 

1. “Leadership is a complex and multifaceted quality that requires a range of skills and characteristics [that don’t only come from acting].” 

Admitted. This is irrelevant to the resolution – I never implied that correlation equals causation, or that great leaders are great because of their acting skills. The only thing that matters is that Zelenskyy is an actor and a great leader – their relative relationship to each other doesn’t matter. 

2. Leadership also involves taking on a range of responsibilities and making difficult decisions. 

Admitted. See above – the qualities of leadership are irrelevant to the resolution being debated. 

3. The public perception of actors may also affect their ability to be perceived as effective leaders. 

Admitted, partially. While this may often be true, my opponent has given no evidence that Zelenskyy is not an effective leader. 

My opponent, in summary, is putting forward a motte-and-bailey fallacy. He is giving a controversial resolution (the “bailey”), and when challenged on it, is retreating to a universally accepted fact (the “motte”), which bears superficial resemblances to the resolution. 

The bailey: “Actors cannot be great leaders.” 
The motte: “Great leaders have many qualities, not all of which come from acting skills.” 

This goalpost-shifting, and resolution-changing, is abusive and against the spirit of the debate – I will give my opponent the benefit of the doubt, and assume it is unintentional, but nevertheless, it’s poor conduct. 

III. Self-defeating Argument 

This is a small section, but it’s important enough to deserve it.  

My opponent, in his concluding speech, said, and I quote: 

“it is certainly possible for actors to be great leaders” 

This borders on an implicit concession. 

IV. Summary and Recall 

In conclusion, I have given a concrete example, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that proves the resolution in my favor. I have also shown how my opponent has attempted to shift the goalposts and change the resolution, and why his arguments are irrelevant and should be ignored. Finally, I have demonstrated that my opponent has even clearly admitted the resolution in my favor. Vote PRO.