Getting acting jobs may not be easy. But, it is something that can be done if you have the talent, passion, proper attitude and right tools for the job.
Before you go hunting for work in the entertainment industry, there are two things you need aside from talent and experience and these are your résumé and your headshot. You should ensure that these tools are professional in appearance and are as current as possible as they are your marketing materials in the business. While the quality of your headshots often lies on the hands of your photographer, your résumé is something you should spend time and effort on.
An actor’s résumé is hugely different from those submitted for regular jobs. Creating one that will catch the eye of any casting director comes with some basic requirements you need to follow.
An acting résumé has a distinct format, is concise and highlights the most important points casting directors are looking for. Everything is presented in sections for easier skimming and reading, the important sections being the header, experience, training and skills. Prominent details and credits should be related to the acting job you are auditioning for.
As everything should appear as professional as possible, a comprehensive guide into the intricacies of crafting the ideal résumé for your acting career is offered below.
Limit to one page.
Always aim for a brief résumé. Never exceed a single page and make sure everything can be placed on the back portion of your headshot.
Keep it simple.
Stick to using plain paper in pale gray, light cream or white in color, if you prefer not to have your résumé printed on the back of your headshot. Edit the size of your document prior to creating it to ensure it will fit the usual 8×10-sized headshot.
Use standard fonts like Times New Roman, Georgia or Arial at a minimum size of point 10 and a maximum of point 12 to convey a more professional and neater appearance. You can use other and larger fonts for the headings of your sections. Just make sure they can be read easily. You can even use capitalization, italicization, underlining and bolding as long as you only use black as color for your fonts.
Make it easy to read.
Ensure that the order of your résumé is easy to follow and read. Refrain from letting casting directors or crew read down your information, then up and across. This will make them lose interest fast. Instead, use the left to right and top to bottom order. This is the most convenient way for your document to be read.
Always maintain accuracy.
All of the information you include in your résumé should be honest, accurate, and current at all times. Add every new project or class you are involved in. Even a change in your hair color or weight should be placed immediately. These changes should never be done using your own handwriting though, unless you finished a job hours before your audition.
Proofreading your résumé is also a must. Look out for grammatical and spelling errors. Make sure punctuations and fonts used are consistent all throughout. Dates and venues should also be as correct as possible.
Keep the use of abbreviations to a minimum.
Abbreviations such as references to actors’ unions, college degrees and states are easily recognized in the entertainment industry. As such, they are the only abbreviations you are allowed to use in your résumé and they are as follows:
Actors’ Unions: AFTRA, SAG, AGMA, AEA, EMC, AGVA
College Degrees: PhD, MFA, BA, etc.
States: CA, UT, NY, AZ, etc.
Attach to your headshot.
Always attach your résumé to the back portion of your headshot. You can either print it there directly or staple the paper you printed it on. As standard-sized papers are 8½x11 inches, they should be trimmed to fit your 8×10 headshot.
Your name, contact information and that of your agency or agent should be on the backside of your headshot before you attach your résumé to it. This will allow casting people to contact you even if they ever get separated. So, staple your headshot and résumé securely on all four corners to ensure this does not happen. You should always do this before you go to the audition venue and not minutes before your schedule.
As mentioned earlier, your résumé should be categorized into several sections for easier reading. They are as follows:
In an acting résumé, your name should be really large, such that it is highly visible from a distance of a couple of feet. While you can align it to the left or to the right, it is best if you place it on the center. You can make use of a different font for your name, if you wish to be creative. It is better though if you will match the font used on your name printed on your headshot. This way, you will be seen as consistent all throughout your marketing tools.
Aside from your name, you need to place your contact information under the header. In an article on chron.com for beginners in the acting world, it is stated you should use a smaller font in writing your contact info and that this should be placed directly under your name. This should include your contact numbers and email address as well as the name and contact numbers of your talent agent or agency.
Take note though that if you really wish for your résumé to be as brief as possible, you can omit your contact information if you are represented by an agency or agent. Casting directors will be able to get your contact info from the people representing you.
You should include your current weight, height, hair color and eye color on your résumé. Do not indicate your clothing size and other measurements as well as your birth date and age, as they are not necessary. If you are auditioning for a role where you are required to sing, your voice range and part should also be indicated here.
This is where you will list all actors’ or performers’ unions you are a member of. These could include Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), among others.
This is where you will place your acting credits, whether it is for film, television, theater or other categories like webisodes or acting. You should group all your credits according to the category they fall under. Prioritize your best credits under each category and not by chronological order. Individual credits should be listed in three columns with the titles of the projects on the left, information or type of role on the center and the production company on the right. For theater, the role type should be replaced with the character name while the right column should have the company, theater or venue name. Directors should be listed alongside the production company if they are already well-known.
For the types of role for film, these should be the ones placed in your resume:
Lead – This is the male or female lead in a movie that usually has speaking scenes with other primary characters in the story. In TV, this is the character in a show’s every episode. This can be the protagonist, antagonist, leading man or ingénue in television or film.
Principal – This is for roles or characters that have recurring scenes with the lead actors for the progression of the story line. They are usually in more than one episode on television shows. Good examples include detectives, lawyers, doctors, fathers, mothers, boyfriends or girlfriends.
Supporting – Limited to one episode on TV and speaking just a number of lines on films. Reporters, cashiers, secretaries and waitresses are among the common supporting characters.
Featured – Those that make usually make scenes credible like bartenders, limo drivers, fingerprint technicians or assistants to coroners.
Extra – Background characters utilized to complete a scene. These include office workers, audience or pedestrians. These are usually hired from the area where movies are filmed.
Stunt Performer – This is the specialist in performing stunts.
Stand-in – Usually, this person has almost identical physical features of a specific actor and who stands in for him during scenes with long setups. During this time, the actor can prepare himself for the actual filming.
Body Double – This person is usually the replacement during shots or scenes that may require physical fitness or nudity. Actors, whose bodies are not ideal for the impression a director is aiming for or who has clauses in their contracts that do not allow them to go nude in shots, are usually those that have doubles.
Stunt Double – This is typically a stunt performer who takes the part of a particular actor during stunts. They are rarely given lines to deliver and usually have a strong resemblance to the actor they are doubling for.
There are other categories you can place under your Experience section and these include industrials, voiceovers, print or commercial. They are more suitable for résumés meant for TV or film though than for stage. If you have a long list of experience under these categories, you can indicate “List to Be Provided upon Request” on your document. This gives you more space to list roles with more prominence. Just be sure that you really have this listing prepared, so you have something to show when somebody will ask to see it.
This is the section you should focus on if you have little to no experience. It should be developed as much as possible.
Formal College or University Education
List down only the degree/s associated with acting. The most recent degree should come first and should be listed along with your major, name and location of school. If you are still currently studying, place your graduation date in your résumé. As usual, the format here should be columnar to be consistent with your experience section.
You can add “Related Coursework” as a sub-category in this section, where you can place in detail the training you underwent for acting during your entire time in college. You need to be precise here and place not just titles of courses, but also the techniques or methods that were taught.
This is where you place acting seminars, workshops, private coaching, masterclasses or continuous studio classes. Training in fields associated with acting like dancing, singing or stunts, among others could also be included here and be detailed about it.
Place the names of coaches, teachers or studios you studied with that are well-known. Also indicate the length of time you trained in a specific technique, discipline or area.
These should be grouped by type. If you want, you can specify your level of proficiency for every skill you include in the list. Do not just list down your hobbies, but something you are really good at. Dance, music, voice and speech, vehicles, athletics, weaponry or combat are just among the type of skills you can include here. Maintain absolute professionalism in this section.
As long as you are honest with everything you placed in this important acting credential, you will reap great outcome from exerting effort on it when the time or the role is right for you. You can even improve more on your résumé-making capabilities by searching for other tutorials online like the one offered by wikiHow. Remember that submitting a professional and well-crafted résumé can definitely help you get the acting jobs you are aiming for.