Creating the Perfect Acting Resume
by Sarah Bennett
Think of your acting resume as a first audition. It must be impressive to get you further with casting.
An actor's resume, along with an outstanding headshot, is the single most important and essential tool an actor can use to get acting jobs. Your resume is going to be your way to get your foot in the door with the people who can hire you for your next big acting role. Therefore, it is essential that you put together an outstanding acting resume that will stand out from the rest.
Your acting resume is the first chance a potential casting director, talent agent, or indeed a director, gets of seeing you and learning more about your past work history, capabilities and attributes. These industry executives will all want to see a high quality, top of the range resume, just as any employer would, and will expect just one page of good, tidy information about you and your job experience. It will help them decide whether or not you are just the person they should be casting. With this in mind you need to ensure that both the resume and the headshot that you will attach to the front are high quality and professional.
A casting director can decide in the first few seconds of reading a resume whether the actor should be auditioned or not, so the more time you spend initially putting together your resume then the more likely your chances of being contacted about castings. Since your resume is the first point of contact between you and a potential casting director, find someone like a friend, acting coach or mentor and have them proof read it and check it over for mistakes or missing crucial points. Take time to put together a superb resume whose goal is to profile you as a professional and detail all of your acting attributes, experience, education and physical description.
Formatting Your Acting Resume
Firstly, remember that your resume should be of a standard format. Most actors will put together a resume of a certain size. If yours is different and you may jeopardize your chances before a casting director or talent agent has even read through it. Even that this is not a strict rule as such, try to use this as a guide:
- One page containing your details 8" x 10" (or 21.5cms x 25.5cms)
- One headshot of the same size, or slightly smaller
Start by listing your name and professional or union affiliations (leave this blank if this does not apply to you) to the top. Then add a detailed description of yourself which may include your height, weight, hair color, eye color.
Do not forget that you need to add your contact information. You'll want to list all telephone and mobile numbers that you can be contacted on, with voicemail if possible. Add your email address and web site address if you have one. It's a good idea to avoid using your personal home address, instead list your post office box or perhaps just add the area (e.g. New York, USA). If you have an agent or manager, you'd use their business address instead of you own.
Then, add in your work history in a list grouped together in categories by type. Start with roles you had in film, followed by television, then theatrical or stage roles that you've taken part in. You'll list the name of the production first, followed by your role, and then either the name of the production company or the director if he or she is known.
Directly following your film, TV, and theater credits is the is the commercial category. This area is where you would list any credits you may have for working on a television commercial. However, in most cases you won't list the commercials you've been in. Because of conflicts between advertisers, it's actually better not to list your commercial credits and instead use the phrase, "List available upon request." This simple phrase tells the casting directors that you've appeared in commercials and if they want additional details that they should contact you directly and discuss them with you.
After you've listed your past work history, follow this by detailing any training and education you have had or are currently involved in. List things like schools, classes, and popular acting coaches. Including this relevant detail lets the casting directors know you've taken the time to study the acting craft. This is even more critical if you lack many prior acting roles to list above and it will be looked upon positively, giving you greater chance of success and more chance of being remembered for future roles.
Finally, a good piece of advice is to ensure that when you are ready, the final print out is completed on a good grade of paper using a high quality printer, if you don't have one then ask for a friend to print it out for you. Keep a copy yourself and have it copied as many times as you need at a printing store as the copies will be just as good as the original.
Your headshot is just as important as your resume and should be the best that you can afford. Make sure it's professional and follows the industry standard - ensuring the casting director or talent agent is seeing a high quality image along with your professional resume. Be sure to attach your headshot to the back of your your resume. Some actors pay to have their resume printed on the reverse of the headshot, however it is perfectly acceptable to staple your resume to your headshot. This is less expensive and it is easier to swap out when your resume is updated.
Remember that your acting resume should be tidy, attractive, and easy to read from top to bottom and free of errors. Add your personal description and all contact information so that you can be notified when necessary.
It is a good idea to think of your acting resume as a first audition. If it doesn't impress, then you are likely to be unsuccessful in getting quality acting roles or called in for auditions. With this in mind, it is vital that you get the resume right and looking good.
As a final note, it is a good idea to get your resume seen by as many casting professionals as possible and today, more casting directors are going green and going digital by utilizing online casting services. Consider signing up with a casting web site such as Actingland.com. Not only will your resume and headshot be seen more easily and more often by casting people, you'll have an easier time updating your resume and photos. Plus, you aren't limited to a one-page profile and can add all of your good experiences and education. This way, anyone reading your resume can access additional information about you and will have an easy way to contact you, too.