Constructing the Perfect Acting Cover Letter

by Arthur Blume

Pretty woman with laptop

Whether you submit to a casting director, talent agent or talent agency, you should always include a resume, photos and an incredibly well crafted cover letter.

One of the most underestimated and most powerful tools in a performer's arsenal is their cover or submission letter that is sent along with the actor's headshot and resume to casting directors and talent agents when submitting for jobs and auditions. Many people today have forgotten or simply don't understand the importance of creating a proper cover letter. Think of your cover letter as a 30 second glimpse into your abilities and talents. A cover letter should be designed to persuade the reader to open up your resume for further consideration.

Whether you submit your performing arts package to a casting director, talent agent or talent agency, you should always include a resume, relative photos or videos and an incredibly well crafted cover letter. Unfortunately though, many actors find writing the perfect cover letter can be a very daunting and difficult task. Should you be writing a hard sell letter or a soft sell letter? How formal or informal should you be? What really goes into a successful cover letter for casting directors and talent agents? The answer is actually quite simple and can be broken down into three simple paragraphs.

Remember that casting directors and agents have limited amounts of time to spend reading cover letters and resumes, so be concise. A proper cover letter should have no more than three paragraphs, four at the absolute most. It should take someone no more than 20 seconds to read the entire letter and be completely error-free. If a casting director is interested in more information about you, they can find it in your attached resume.

The first paragraph is the introduction, or 'Why Me?' paragraph. The second paragraph is the work history or 'Meat & Potatoes' paragraph and the third is the wrap up and salutation. This paragraph is also known as 'Let's Get Together and Make it Happen' paragraph.

Your introductory paragraph should inform the recipient why you are contacting them and if relevant, who referred you to the casting agency. That's it! Fight the urge to include any other information in the introductory paragraph.

Now you come to the 'Meat & Potatoes' paragraph. This is where you will include a brief glimpse at some of your recent work history. I say recent because most casting directors or agencies are not interested in how well you performed in your third grade Christmas pageant twelve years ago. If you've been acting for awhile and happen to have a lot of experience you might find yourself trying to fit a bunch of credits into your cover letter, but keep everything recent. List only the last two or three productions you worked on. The only exception is if you've worked on a particularly impressive job. If you've had the luck to work on a project or two with a recognizable director or a project that won awards or critical acclaim, you should feel free to list these productions even if they weren't technically your most recent jobs.

The closing or 'Make it Happen' paragraph is where you thank the recipient for reading your cover letter and resume and give them any excuse to call you back. This paragraph should be no more than three or four lines and always conclude with a thank you.

Even though your cover letter needs to be professional you also need to include a little of your own personality in the writing. As long as you maintain the maximum paragraph guidelines and include proper error-checking techniques you can feel free to be personable with your message.

When writing your cover letter be sure that you address the letter to the specific contact or agency. Recent studies have shown that cover letters with the salutation "To whom it may concern," are 50 percent more likely to be thrown out before being read. A personalized cover letter displays formality, courtesy and forethought; all characteristics a casting director is looking for.

Always be sure to include your contact information. In today's busy and technologically dependant society you will need to list all of your different contact methods. This includes your cell phone number and your email address. If casting directors have an easy time reaching you for call back auditions you are more likely to get the part.

Remember to sign your cover letter at the bottom. While it may seem like a small and unnecessary detail it is actually quite important. By signing your cover letter you are demonstrating a willingness to make your cover letter and therefore your communication, more personal.

It may take you some time and many revisions until you are able to craft the perfect submission letter. Just remember to be concise and always make sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors and you should have no problems.
Arthur Blume is an actor and short subject director and producer.
Copyright © Arthur Blume. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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