Resume Advice For The Professional Actor

If headshots are walking the walk, then resumes are talking the talk. A good headshot shows your current look and potential “type,” and your demo reel shows the many moods and facial expressions you can pull off, but your resume is where your prospective agent, casting director and/or client sees just about everything you’ve done in your acting career. And just like a headshot or demo reel, you’ll want to keep your resume looking its best! Keep reading to find out how.

Basic formatting

The top of your resume should include your name (in bigger, bolder letters than the rest of your resume), your union status, and your height, hair color and eye color.

You should also include contact information at the top of your resume. Some talent make two versions of their resumes – a personal one and an agency one – with relevant contact info on each. Here’s how to decide which one to take with you to your audition:

Types Of Projects A Talent Agency Will Cast You In

  • Film: When listing film credits, each entry should include the title of the film, the type of role you had (see below) and the name of the production company and/or director. Some actors include both, ex. production company name/director name. Some talent choose to make separate sections for feature-length films and short films, but if you’d like them to appear all in one section, adding (short) after the title can differentiate them.
    • Kinds of roles in film:
      • Principal: The main character in the film (speaking roles)
      • Supporting: A role that supports the main character’s story and helps push it forward; equivalent of a TV co-star (speaking roles)
      • Featured: Bit roles, recognizable background, and other small roles
      • Extra: Unrecognizable background
  • Television: TV entries are very similar to film entries; each entry should include the title of the film, the type of role you had, and the name of the production company and/or director.
    • Kinds of roles in TV:
      • Series regular: The leads of the series
      • Recurring: Appears in multiple episodes
      • Guest star: Supports an episode, performs in multiple scenes and has a character arc in the episode.
      • Co-star: Supports a scene or two; the equivalent of a supporting role in film.
  • Theatre: Each theatre entry should include the title of the play, the name of the role you played, and the name of the theatre where the performance took place. Some actors also include the city where the theatre is located, ex. The Old Globe Theatre/San Diego, CA.
  • Commercial: If most of your acting experience has consisted of commercial work, it may be tempting to list all those impressive credits on your resume. But it’s best to resist that temptation and write “conflicts available upon request” instead. Why? Including your commercial credits can draw attention to potential industry conflicts for prospective clients before they’ve even seen you audition or watched your reel. If asked about your conflicts, be honest, of course. But you might as well wait to cross that bridge until you get there.
  • Industrial: Like film and TV, each entry should include the title of the film, the type of role you had, and the name of the production company and/or director.
  • (Optional) Web/New Media: More and more projects these days are made for web only or are a specific kind of format, such as VR or motion capture for a video game. If you’d like to separate these kinds of credits from the rest of your work, you could include a section called “Web/New Media” in your resume.

Special Skills That Help Talent Agencies Cast You

The special skills section of your resume is where you get to not-so-humble brag about all your awesome abilities. That said, be realistic about what you’d be comfortable doing on set. Don’t say you’re fluent in Spanish, can skateboard, can do a wicked Boston accent, etc., if you wouldn’t be able to do it if a CD or client spontaneously asked you to do it at an audition or on set. That’s real bad.

But if you are really able to do them, here are some of the special skills we love to see on resumes:

  • Languages
  • Sports and dance abilities
  • Musical abilities, instruments you play, vocal range
  • Dialects/accents (this applies to multiple languages, too)
  • Special certifications, such as precision driving, yoga instruction, etc.
  • Relevant professions (like police officer, military, nurse, chef, or bartender)
  • Valid passport and driver’s license
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