Business of Acting: Actor Resume (Part 1)

The acting resume is rather simple to put together, but always seems to give actors the most trouble. There is a basic recipe to follow that needs to be adhered to, as casting directors don’t want to be searching all over the page for information they are used to seeing in specific places. It does not matter how ‘cool’ the resume looks. What matters is the substance of those credits. And please, do NOT lie on your resume to try to ‘pad’ your experience. You build an acting career over time, gaining experience along the way. Everybody starts with zero experience – it’s how you build it from there that counts. Besides, if you lie, it will invariable be found out, as everyone knows everyone is this industry, and I’ve seen people get booted from auditions for resume fabrications. Just don’t do it.

At the top of your resume (what I will call the “HEADER”) should be your name (stage name or real – it’s up to you) in big bold print. You do not want your name to blend in with all the other info, so make sure it is significantly larger than your other text, and should span the majority of the page. Below that should be any union affiliations you have such as SAG, AFTRA, ACTRA, AEA, etc., and then, below that should be your hair color (list is “hair: Blond”), eye color, height and weight. Now, I have heard that resumes are trending towards NOT including weight, which just seems dumb to me, as I’ve had headshots taken when I was 180 lbs. and 155 lbs., and even though there was not a lot of difference in how the headshot looked, there was a definite difference in how my body looked. So I will always be of the mind that it’s a good thing to have on there as your only giving the casting director more information about you. Also, at some place in the “HEADER” should be either your contact information, or the contact information of your agent/manager with their logo. Since I did a lot of self-submission, I had resumes with both. But when you do get an agent/manager, they very well may direct you to how and where they want the agency logo placed.

Next comes any/some/all your credits for any/some/all projects you have done. This is where I usually see a lot of confusion, especially from beginning actors, as they will often mis-categorize their role in the film. Again, don’t lie, it will only come back to haunt you. For example, there is no co-star credit for film, co-star is for TV. Credits should follow the industry standard 3 column format with column 1 being the name of the project, column 2 being the role, and the third column varying between the director or production house (for Film), the network or productions house (for TV), the production company for Commercials (if listed) and theatre, and for most other categories. The accepted credits are as follows:

Film: Lead, Supporting, or Featured (often used when actor was just a background performer and really should NOT be used)

TV: Series Regular, Co-Star, Guest Star, Day Player, U5 (AFTRA designation for a role with under five lines)

Commercial: Most commonly listed as ‘Conflicts available upon request’ as a commercial casting director’s main concern is if you are even available

Theatre: Usually the character played is listed as the credit

Most other categories (voiceover, print, industrial, interstitial, webisode, video, etc) use either ‘principle’ or ‘featured’.

Following your credits, you should be listing your training following the same 3 column format listing the school or studio or class, the instructor, and then what sort of class it is (scene study, commercial, improv, etc). And then list any of your special skills. Just so you know, special skills are sort of my ‘pet peeve’ and have a whole post dedicated to just the discussion of your ‘specials skills. You can list them however you like. I’ve found that just each skill some sort of separator seems to look best. And lastly, you should indicate whether or not you have a valid passport. This is actually important (especially if you are auditioning in NY or LA) as there are times when you will audition for project that will film overseas (like Europe) and you would be leaving within a week. With that sort of schedule, they are NOT going to take the chance of you trying to get your passport within that week (in case you don’t have one) – they want to know that it’s already covered. Now, this sort of casting doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.