Even the most successful stars had to start somewhere and at some point did not have much experience either, so don’t worry. We’ve been there before, and so were all others. How do you put together this acting portfolio if you have no experience?
How to Make an Acting Portfolio if You Have No Experience
Putting together a good portfolio can help you land that first role. But many aspiring actors who are just about to start pursuing a career in show business are confused how to get acting jobs when they have no experience to show on their acting résumé. How do you do it?
What is an acting portfolio?
When you submit for an acting job, a casting director will receive your full actor’s package, which consists the following:
The casting director looks at your headshot first, and if you look the part, they will turn it over to see your acting résumé on the other side. They’ll scan through your physical stats, your credits, and sometimes, your special skills if that applies.
Even if you have no experience whatsoever, you can still put together an acting résumé with no experience and send it over to casting directors with confidence.
What do I do?
Are you sure you definitely have no experience? Maybe you’ve been in school plays or student films or even indie films with your friends. List them all! Anything where you have actually done acting can go on your résumé, even if it’s a small part in a silly project.
But if you seriously do not have any, here’s what you can do.
1. Headshot. A headshot is a professionally captured picture that represents you as your type. It is your introduction to directors and talent scouts. Roles need people who fit, and casting directors are looking for that specific type to fit the role. Thus, you may touch up some blemishes here and there. But do not go overboard with the makeup or airbrushing. You want to look like you. For more information, check out our dos and dont’s article about headshots.
2. Résumé. As with any job, a résumé should present your skills and training to the casting director. Most importantly, a résumé contains an actor’s relevant professional experiences and credentials. We already have a separate article for that, but now that you’re here, an acting résumé basically includes the following:
- Stage name (not your legal name)
- Affiliations (unions, agencies, etc.)
- Contact information (email and phone number)
- Personal information (measurements, weight, height, eye and hair color, etc.)
- Work experience (stage, film, TV, commercials, etc.)
- Training (acting workshops and classes)
- Special skills (other talents, languages, accents, martial arts training, etc.)
Since you have no experience, skip affiliations and work experience. Simple! But here are important rules to remember for every submission:
- Résumés should strictly be one page only. Not two, not three.
- Do not include irrelevant personal information such as your address, age, or Social Security number.
- The résumé should have a maximum of three columns only.
- Information included should be recent and relevant.
- Do not use any colors whatsoever for text.
- Never lie on your résumé.
- If you’re submitting this online, the finished document should be a PDF.
3. Training. If you’re in it for the long haul, save up and enroll in acting classes. Like any profession, acting involves theory and practice. Additionally, outputs in acting classes will definitely look good in your résumé. Even the class itself counts as training, and the mentor can count as a character reference. Moreover, you’ll definitely rack up important connections and industry knowledge by the end of training.
But don’t stop there. Do learn new things and spend enough time to actually master the skill. Learn new languages or accents, learn how to dance, or learn how to sing or use a musical instrument. Many actors completely ignore this part and therefore take themselves out of running for easy gigs that they could’ve gotten if they had that one particular skill. It’s always helpful to be able to do something that a director can use in the production. If you already can play musical instruments and do more unique stuff, such as riding a unicycle, well, perfect! Hone those skills, put them on the résumé, and see how this can help you with gaining that acting experience.
4. Opportunities. The easiest way to acquire some credits for your résumé is to visit your local community college for some stage work. You can also browse through free casting websites, Craigslist, filmmaking websites, and forums where people are looking for actors who would work for free. If you’re willing to do some work for no reward, that means you’ll find opportunities faster.
You will be surprised by how quickly your résumé will start growing if you dedicate some time to this profession. There are a lot of opportunities out there, especially if you move to the big cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Vancouver in Canada, or London in England. Once you start receiving better acting work, remove your “silly” older credits and replace them with the most recent stuff.