A general rule in life is to be honest. It can get tempting to lie about some details in your résumé or acting profile just so you sound like the ideal actor and so you don’t appear like a beginner in front of the intimidating casting panel. Because why not? Who’s going to know that you only saw the play once on a school field trip and were never actually the lead actor of the play?
However, directors and casting directors rarely cast someone in a role based on whether or not they played the lead or ensemble in a previous show. If you have the talent and the look they’re searching for, a smart casting director will cast you, plain and simple.
Director Paul Russell once read a résumé of an actor stating that she played the lead role of a production he directed. “Yes, I directed the production,” he wrote. “Yes, it was at the theater listed. No, she didn’t play the lead role as her résumé indicated. Nor was she cast as the understudy or in the ensemble. Possibly she was an usher? I don’t know. But if someone suggested to her she lie on her résumé, where was that adviser instructing her how to skillfully handle that very uncomfortable and unfortunate moment of ‘gotcha’?”
Imagine the embarrassment once the director you’re trying to impress questions the credit you claim to have on your profile or résumé. Is the feat still impressive? Or is it disappointing now?
You could also meet a casting director who’s a huge fan of one of the plays you are claiming as a credit. They might be eager to have a detailed discussion with you about the play. Imagine their reaction when they quickly discover you barely have any knowledge of the play at all. And you said you were the lead! Think they’re still going to hire you? Of course not.
There is nothing worse than arriving on set only to realize your costume is three sizes too small. Or showing up for an audition to find out you cannot use the props made for someone of your stated height. Lying on your acting profile just because you’re ashamed of your size will only make you feel silly on set. It will earn you the ire of production designers and wardrobe supervisors, as well as assistant directors and production managers. Once the effect of what you thought was a harmless lie ruins your reputation, you’ll realize it wasn’t harmless after all. For a guide on taking proper measurements, here’s an article for you.
Being dishonest about your skills, accents, and sporting abilities may even be worse. Some casting directors are looking for talent with specific skills and abilities because of particular roles. If you have to pretend that your mediocre or poor skill in singing is top-notch, you’ll be in trouble if you’re cast. If you’re lucky, you’ll be trained. If there are better candidates for the role, you’ll be fired or replaced.
If you were able to get away with lying on your acting résumé, your lack of experience will eventually reveal itself.
“Lying on your theatrical resume may have worked before the internet and social media, but it amazes me that today, people still do it,” director Chris Peterson says. “For such a small item, it’s something that could get you cut from an audition more than your talent, because if you’re dishonest about your experience, what else are you being dishonest about? How trustworthy are you if you were cast?”
Lies cannot be permanently erased. A trace will always remain somewhere or with someone, and in an industry that thrives on reputation, casting directors can easily ask their wide network of connections to verify your claims. Once one of them knows you lie, that professional’s connections may know too, and your castability plummets with it.
Instead of lying all because you’re embarrassed of your lack of experience and training, why don’t you attend acting classes and work out for real instead? When you’ve accomplished workshops and classes, you might still have a résumé that indicates you have little-to-no acting credits, but by this time, you’ll be able to indicate that you are a well-trained, hard-working, serious actor who is now ready to begin earning great acting credits like a fresh graduate! You won’t be ashamed of your measurements anymore too.