So you are getting serious about a career in theater, film or TV. You know you need a resume, but don’t really know how to start. A resume of any kind is difficult to write and an arts related resume is even tougher.
Your acting resume can be the deciding factor of whether you get an audition or not, so you need to make sure it’s top notch and tells perspective employers what you can do as an actor in a few seconds.
Why a few seconds? Simply because casting directors and agents have see hundreds if not thousands of resumes. Many know what they are looking for and if they do not see it right away, they may move on. Indeed, your resume must make an impression and grab their attention at first glance or risk getting tossed. For the above reason, many people begin their resumes with their best work.
What should an actors resume include
At the very top in bold it should have your name, contact info, agent info (if any). The next line should be your stats such as height, weight, hair and eye color, suit / dress size and any unions you belong to.
Now comes the Experience section
This should not be in chronological order. Your acting experience should start with your best roles and be edited well. By edited, I mean only your best roles. If you must ask whether to list something or not then it most likely is not your best role. Do not list roles that do not require any talent such as extras (unless that’s all you have). No experience? Well that’s OK too. Make some.
Join a community theater group, school play, or anything that allows you to perform. Get creative. These days you can even do things like create your own Youtube Channel. You have to start somewhere. What you never want to do is lie about experience. You may get caught and completely ruin your chances of ever getting cast since people are known to talk.
Since you are trying to put into words something that may be visual and vocal, describe your roles well. Rather than saying supporting role in so and so production, you can say villain, soccer mom, etc. Give them an idea of who you are and what you can play.
Yes, many people do not want to be type cast, but unfortunately many actors do based on what they look like. That’s why we keep seeing the same actors playing the same roles. Think of how many actors you know of that always play a bombshell, a gangster, a cop, a geek, etc. Know what you can play well and tell them.
Now for training
If you haven’t had any, then the resume may be premature unless you have some serious credits under your belt. Casting directors want to see training. They want to know you are prepared. Yes, even in arts training is important. List the classes you took, workshops you attended and any special skills you were taught such as voice lessons.
Speaking of special skills
Now you may want to list them. Martial arts, different languages you speak, accents you can do. Now that you have it all down, begin editing. If it looks too long, it probably is. Did you list too many school plays? How about too many small parts? Again, keep it simple and only list your best work.
Most casting directors do not care that you were in 27 school plays and will never read through all that. List your best parts. Keep it clean.
Formatting your acting resume
This is a business and you want to look professional. A resume is not the place to get fancy with fonts or color. Make sure it is readable with enough white space and proper font size. The only thing in bold should be your name.
Resumes should all fit on one page. If it doesn’t, cut it down. You want to make sure your resume can be stapled to the back of your headshot. Since most headshots are 8×10, your resume should be as well. When sending out your resume, make sure to include a short cover letter. Most people want to know why they got something and that is what your cover letter should explain.
If you have sample clips of your work, you may want to get the clips edited into a single video and include a link address to it. You can check out how to make an acting reel. Now check out some sample acting resumes and get to working and good luck.