Whatever you do on the side -either waitressing or doing deliveries. You’re still waiting for the call of your lifetime.
You’re just trying to get by when all of a sudden… Jon Favreau appears and says you’re a perfect fit for his next Marvel movie.
All you need to do is give your contact details. Oh, and your actor’s resume, of course.
What do you do?
Do you have your resume ready to give on the spot? Or do you need to update it?
Time’s running out.
And what’s worse - you’ll never know when the next big opportunity might show up!
So, instead of aimlessly waiting for an audition call, get ready.
Preparing for the next audition doesn’t consist of rehearsing your monologue alone. Your resume has to be up to par, too.
And maybe someday you’ll get to be as lucky as Henry Cavill and afford to miss a phone call or two.
What our comprehensive guide has to offer
- All the dos and don’ts when it comes to resume writing for actors
- How many actor resumes you should have at hand
- How to tailor your resume for each particular role
- Which resume format has the best layout for your resume
- How to list your actor credentials properly
- Which resume details will grab the attention of casting directors
- How to list your skills properly and keep them relevant to the role
How to Tell a Well-Rounded Story with Your Actor Resume
To make casting directors call you for upcoming roles, you must build a strong resume package.
What does this include? It is comprised of three parts:
- Your actor’s resume
- Your headshot
- A demo reel
Each of these has to be convincing enough to get you an audition.
Although this guide is primarily about the resume, let’s briefly discuss the last two points.
Directors are searching for actors who convey their acting abilities through a photo. As such, your headshot is an inseparable part of your resume.
This means your resume should fit within one page alone. The back of it is reserved for the headshot. Keep in mind that both documents should match in size.
Given the standard headshot size is 8" X 10", make sure your resume fits within the same margins.
Also, don’t forget to staple your photo. If you use tape or paper clips, there’s a good chance the two pieces will get separated.
Moving onto the demo reel - what is this?
It’s a short footage, no more than 2 minutes long, which shows the best of your acting skills.
Obviously, you can’t tape this one, too. But you can list a link to it on your resume. (More on this in the next section of this article.)
Back to resume building - you need a proper format, before you start writing. Your best option is the all-time favorite reverse-chronological format.
Anyone who’s ever hired anyone will tell you this is the most recognizable resume layout out there. Its purpose is to list your past positions and shortly describe your skills.
It’s like a highlight reel of your employment history.
But since acting is not the same as other regular jobs, you will have to make a few modifications to the format.
We’ll cover these in the following paragraphs as we go over the resume, section by section.
And how do you divide an actor’s resume?
It looks overwhelming, but all this can be divided in four general categories:
- Personal information
- Acting credits
- Education and training
- Relevant skills
Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but what do you fill these sections with?
There are many things which you can include in your resume. Think about how these questions apply to you and focus on answering them in the resume.
The Resume Header Section: An Actor’s Business Card
Usually this section holds only a few crucial pieces of basic information:
- Your name
- Your job title
- Your contact details - email and phone number
- A link to your website or work-related social media profiles
But, like we mentioned before, acting roles are not the same as a regular job. As such, your resume header would be slightly different, too.
Don’t list your personal address because your location doesn’t matter. You will either be traveling with your theater group or filming on location.
In this case, your phone number would be much more useful. So, include only your personal phone number.
- The name of your agency
- The agency’s address
- Your agent’s phone number
Also, don’t forget to add a photo to your resume header. Better yet, use a smaller version of your headshot, if possible.
This will guarantee that casting directors have an idea of what you look like.
If your headshot ever gets separated from your resume for whatever reason, you’ll have a back-up.
2 Actor Resume Header Examples
Take a look at the following resume header:
It doesn’t scream “cast me!”, does it?
Even as a stand-alone business card, this resume header doesn’t inspire confidence. What’s wrong with it?
- The job title is very vague and doesn’t hint at other special talents
- The agent’s contact details are completely missing from the resume
- There isn’t a back-up photo of the individual
There is only one redeeming feature here and it’s the website link. This is a good way to link to your demo reel. Make sure the link is working before you hand in your resume.
Now, consider the header below:
This is what we call a wealth of information!
Keep in mind that some acting professionals choose to list their physical traits. But this is optional.
Nowadays, much can be altered with the help of make-up, costumes, prosthetics and CGI.
And if your headshot conveys your acting abilities well, directors may look the other way. So what if your eye color isn’t the right one?
Remember when Daniel Radcliffe was excused from wearing contact lenses? For the Harry Potter franchise? Yeah!
So, unless you’re auditioning for a role, which demands you:
- Look like a particular historical figure
- Have certain physical features
Avoid crowding your resume header with unnecessary information.
After all, black and white headshots are outdated. Everything, from hair color to weight, is visible in your photo.
The acting resume summary: Your short awards thank you speech
You’ve probably already rehearsed this one in front of the bathroom mirror millions of times.
Here is an opportunity to do something similar and use it to earn you an audition. But what does this resume summary look like?
Well, it’s a short paragraph of 4-5 sentences. It highlights your biggest achievements. There are two types:
The first one is perfect for college grads and those with no experience. The second option is better for professionals with more than 2 years in the industry.
In the text, focus on the following points:
- Years of acting experience (if any)
- Type of acting experience
- Biggest professional accomplishments
- Actor union membership (if applicable)
- Acting systems mastered
- Any special skills, which not only look good on your resume, but are perfect for the role
This may seem as much, but don’t get overwhelmed!
Have a look at the two sample summaries below:
2 actor resume summary examples
This one is a good start, but it can get a lot better.
Instead of relying on resume power words, lead with action and results.
Begin with the roles you’re most proud of and the name of the production. But be careful not to list the name of the character you’ve played, just the role type.
For example, if you’ve been in a television series, you can add:
- Guest star
- Voice actor
- Stunt performer
- Body double
- Stunt double
These will provide a much needed context. Casting directors will immediately know the kinds of productions you prefer. As well as the depth of your experience.
What if I don’t have the experience?
Mention any training you have received in the past. It’s more important to list the acting techniques you have mastered than the education you have.
Even if it’s just one masterclass, include it.
Finally, specify any actor union affiliations you have. If you have special skills, add them too. Especially if they are relevant for the role.
Having discussed all this, review the resume summary below:
Much better, right?
Framing the experience section on your actor resume the right way
Next on your resume is the experience section. By far the most frightening one for many actors and actresses.
But there is a method to this madness. All you need to do is separate your acting credits by the type of media:
But how do you organize all this?
Since this isn’t your regular job resume, you don’t have to list everything chronologically. Rank your acting credits according to relevancy and media type.
If you’re auditioning for a theater production, put these credentials at the top of the section.
Notice how I didn’t include commercials on this list. This is because they should be kept on a separate resume, which is provided on demand.
Because they affect casting decisions. Directors have to take into account many things. One of these is whether you have any brand affiliations.
Imagine being cast as a family-friendly character, while advertising tobacco and alcohol. Or being the face of a very famous brand while being contacted to represent its competitor.
What can you do?
Mention your commercials resume at the bottom of your acting one and provide it only when needed.
Let’s look at a few samples and discuss them individually.
3 Actor Resume Experience Examples
This applicant is certainly gunning for a television or a film role. Yet, the candidate hasn’t made the effort to list the series properly.
No credit is given to the show producers. Even though the applicant states he played the lead role.
Here is a better version of this entry:
- Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould
This is a good reminder of why you should always be truthful on your resume. Better Call Saul is a very well-known TV show.
Unless this applicant actually played the lead role, it shouldn’t be in his acting credits.
Also, this is a good place to list award nominations and wins. Who wouldn’t want to brag about an Emmy nomination?
What about if you’re doing theater?
We’ve got you!
For these acting credits you need to include the:
- Name of the show
- Role you’ve played
- Location of the production
- Theater company
- Name of the director (only if the individual is famous)
It should look something like this:
- Center Theatre Group | Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
If you’ve been an understudy, point to the role and add Understudy next to it in brackets.
Remember to only include this entry, if you’ve actually played the role on stage. Merely memorizing the character lines won’t do.
But what if you can’t boast big TV roles?
Well, if you have your high school and college acting experience alone, include it. Keep in mind to stop adding these entries once you have at least 3 years in the industry.
And if you don’t have any acting credits at all, don’t worry! Many actors and actresses have been casted without any experience.
That’s why it’s important to show up and be ready!
Which skills should you include on your actor resume?
As with any resume, you should:
- Create a nice balance between technical and social talents
- Add the ones which are most relevant for the role
How do you do that on an actor’s resume?
When it comes to acting, sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between hard and soft skills.
Technically speaking, acting skills would usually fall under soft or special talents. But if your main job requirement is to be able to act, these become your must-have hard skills.
It’s a fine line, indeed.
So remember to focus only on the ones most important for the role. The more specific you are, the more you will stand out among other applicants.
How to show technical mastery on your resume
Let’s start with your hard skills first. Traditionally, these are much easier to describe because they result in measurable outcomes.
Yet, how do you prove you’re classically trained on paper?
This is where including the right acting credentials comes in handy. Linking your techniques to the relevant workshops allows you to share verifiable results.
But why do you need to specify which acting methods you’re versed in?
If you state your acting style upfront, casting directors can get an idea of how you may play the role.
What else can you add?
Putting the spotlight on the soft skills section of your resume
As long as you provide quantifiable results, these shouldn’t trouble you at all.
Think about how your work outside acting has affected those around you:
- Do you take good directions?
- Can you work well with other actors?
- How thorough are you when preparing for a new role?
- Where do you take your inspiration from?
- Can you inspire those around you?
Have these questions in mind when building the soft skills section of your resume.
And if there are others who can vouch for your professionalism, reference them. Testimonials from industry veterans will always go a long way.
Here are some of trendiest social skills in 2022:
Now, all you have to do is to describe them. So, without further ado, here is how to describe both hard and soft skills:
Just remember to be truthful and don’t put anything you can’t actually do.
The education of your actor resume: to add or not to add?
As we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of actors who don’t have formal training. Their motivation and talents have landed them the audition.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add your education. On the contrary!
If you have an acting college degree, make sure you know how to list it. You have the opportunity to get more specific. List the variety of acting-related classes you’ve taken.
Have you done classical singing or contemporary dance? Include it.
And for those of you with no formal education, you can add any of the following:
- Acting-related workshops
- Ongoing studio classes
- Private coaching (especially if the tutor is a celebrity)
- Training in music, dancing, singing, combat training, martial arts, stunts, etc.
- Accents and dialects coaching
Are there any certificates you can put on your actor resume?
But make sure they are relevant to the character you’re auditioning for.
If you’re doing a musical and you have a singing and dancing certificate, include it.
If you’re auditioning for a medical TV show and have an EMT certificate, mention it.
This will add credibility to your character. Because you’ll know what you have to do as a medical professional.
Don’t forget to make everything on your resume relevant to the role.
Can you list other sections on your actor resume?
Some of these include:
- Actor union memberships (Actors’ Equity Association (Equity), SAG-AFTRA, 4As, etc.)
- Awards and nominations
- Quotes and references
- Reviews and testimonials
- Social media accounts
- Cover letter
Depending on your circumstances, adding links to social media accounts may be required. Especially if you’re auditioning for a commercial. Or a large-scale TV or film production.
Casting directors may want to preview your social media conduct. Or if you’re involved in any scandals.
Also, if you’re a beginner actor or actress, it may be a good idea to write a cover letter.
This will give the extra push your actor resume with no experience may need.
Supplementing your resume with a little bit of motivation. And show why you’re the perfect person for the job.
Key Takeaways: Don’t Put Your Eggs In One Basket
- Consider writing several actor resumes for each of your acting endeavors
- Separate your commercials resume from your main one
- Tailor your resume to the particular role you’re auditioning for
- Use the reverse-chronological format and follow the instructions set in this guide
- Staple your headshot to the back of your resume. Avoid using tape or paper clips.
- Add a link to your demo reel and make sure the video works before submitting your resume
- Hire a local photographer to do your headshot
- Always mention scenes or acting classes, led by celebrities
- Don’t list your age, unless you’re under 18
- Never include an acting credit, unless you’ve actually done the part