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Tips For Creating Acting Resumes That Get You Roles

You may be pursuing a career in the arts, but you’ll still need a resume! Together with your headshot and your reel, your resume helps casting directors decide whether to give you a chance of landing a role. So, even if you have a great headshot and a stunning reel, you’ll need a good resume too.

Like any professional resume, an acting resume showcases your training, skills, and experience as well as how to contact you. 

What Makes an Actor’s Resume Stand Out From the Crowd?

Even if you’ve yet to land your first professional role, your resume can make an impression. Casting directors are looking for serious career actors, so they’ll be interested in how you’ve invested in preparing for your career. This includes the names of teachers and acting coaches they’d recognise, acting classes that they think are valuable, and which drama school you attended. 

Next, you will want to showcase any acting work you have already been involved in: shows in which you held a role, however large or small, roles for which you were designated as an understudy, and even voiceover work and advertising work. 

How to Create an Actor Resume

The good news is that your resume should not be more than one page long – but it’s a page you might spend quite a long time working on! 

Introduction to Your Resume

Start with your name. Sounds simple? It’s a point that some people forget! Use a thumbnail of your headshot. Your resume may be stapled to a full-sized version, but if the two get separated, it will make it easier to reunite them. 

Follow up with your email address and phone number. Your physical address isn’t important, but contact details are crucial. 

Physical characteristics that won’t show up on your headshot come next. Casting directors can see whether your hair is brown or your eyes are blue, but they don’t know your height and weight. Tell them. 

State any union affiliation you might have. 

Next, provide your agent’s details (if you have an agent). Some agencies will ask you to include their logo and doing so is a good idea, especially if you’re recognised by a well-known one.  

Acting Resume: Format for Your Acting Credits

Rather than organising your acting experience in chronological order, divide it into the types of acting you’ve done. This means separate sections for theatre, film, TV, voice acting, and commercials. To keep everything tidy and easy to read at a glance, use tables to present your experience in each category. 

However you format your acting credits, be consistent. For example, a four column layout listing your theatre experience works well as follows:

Production Role (name of character) Theatre Company Director

For film, it looks slightly different – the type of role: lead, supporting, principal or featured is an accepted industry standard. 

Having a lead role is self-explanatory. A supporting actor is vital to the storyline but is not the lead. A principal actor has a speaking role with five (and preferably more) lines. A featured actor has one or more lines and appears in a scene that may or may not be part of the final version of the film. The tabulated format could look something like this:

Film title Type of role Production Company Director

You’d follow a similar format to the one you used for film when listing TV experience, but the role terminology is slightly different. 

A series regular is exclusively contracted for the show and is paid regardless of whether they appear in an episode or not. “Recurring” means you appeared as the same character several times. A guest star appears in one episode and their character is important to the storyline. A co-star also appears in a single episode, but their character is not central to the episode. 

If you’re sending in your resume to be considered for theatre, film, or TV, you wouldn’t list commercial experience except as a footnote along the lines of “Commercial experience available on request.” However, if you’re applying for commercial work, or commercials are the only experience you have, go ahead and provide that list in this format: 

Product Role Ad Agency Director

There is an opinion that listing products might not do you any favours – after all, what if the casting director dislikes the product? If you’re worried about this, use the same format but drop the “product” column. 

Acting Resume Tips: Your Training

The primary questions here will be what training you have and if you attended acting courses, who presented them. Dates are far less important, and there are some actors who believe that giving them can disadvantage you – it’s your choice, however. 

If you have a degree or diploma, kick off with this information, clearly stating where you studied. Next, list all additional courses you took, the names of your trainers, and the name of the training provider. 

Special Skills

There are plenty of roles in which special skills are an advantage. For example, if you can ride a horse, fence, or are trained in martial arts, you should definitely let casting directors know. Of course, dance is an advantage in many productions, as is musical training, and knowledge of languages and accents (if you can do them convincingly) can be a help. Organise your special skills into categories stating how many years you have practised or studied them or your degree of proficiency.

Since this is the end of a resume, a sadly characterless document, some actors like to make their mark at the very end with what’s termed a “conversation starter.” It’s meant to get attention and can be humorous or whimsical. If you decide to include one, make it memorable and brief. For example, “French (fluent), Piano (Grade 6), Ballroom Dancing (3 years), Grows carnivorous plants for fun.”

References

References aren’t a must, but if you have important production companies or professional directors who are willing to vouch for you, include up to three – after checking whether the contact person is willing to be used as a reference.

Acting Resume: Final Thoughts on Format

There are several different ideas on how to format an acting resume, but we think this one is particularly good. It focuses on clarity, and after your personal particulars, it dives right in with the exciting stuff that casting directors want to see. Make it easy for them!

What Not to Include in an Acting Resume

Begin by asking yourself “What is an acting resume?” It’s a document that allows casting directors to see what you’ve done to further your acting career so far. This makes it easy to see what you shouldn’t include: anything that isn’t about acting! Casting directors don’t care about your A-levels, and any backstage work you may have done isn’t relevant to an actor’s job. So, if it isn’t about acting in the purest sense of the word, don’t include it. 

Finally, never exaggerate your skills. If they’re put to the test and you fail, you’ll have egg on your face and a casting director who won’t want to audition you ever again. If you don’t have much to put on your resume, leave it at that, or list any amateur productions you were involved with – it’s better than nothing. Keep it short, sweet, relevant, and truthful. 

While You’re Between Roles

Use the opportunity to improve your acting skills while you’re between roles. Join a drama club, attend some important courses, catch up on some reading on the art of acting, work towards getting an agent – there are tons of things you can do. You can even get a regular job – and before you say “But employers don’t understand what I’m trying to do!” think twice

At RSVP, we’re all actors, and we understand your need for flexibility. At the same time, we value your people skills and what you can do for our clients as a customer service and support agent. After all, you can “be” the brand as easily as you can “become” a character in a film or play.  Looking to finance that top-flight acting course you want to add to your resume? Visit our careers page to find out more about working for RSVP. 

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