After 1660 in England, when women first started to appear on stage
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After 1660 in England, when women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress were initially used interchangeably for female performers, but later, influenced by the French actrice, actress became the commonly used term for women in theater and film. The etymology is a simple derivation from actor with -ess added. When referring to groups of performers of both sexes, actors is preferred. Actor is also used before the full name of a performer as a gender-specific term.
Within the profession, the re-adoption of the neutral term dates to the post-war period of the 1950 and '60s, when the contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed.