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Answer: An acting resume should inform the casting director quickly about your performance experience, training and skills. How your acting resume is… (continued in David’s answer below)
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Answer: An acting resume should inform the casting director quickly about your performance experience, training and skills. How your acting resume is formatted and kept up to date is as important as the content.
One of the most important tools in your acting work kit is your resume. Along with your headshot, your acting resume is a quick glance at your career, and should speak volumes to the casting director, all in mere moments. Here’s how to make your resume a shining example of how to promote and inform the casting director about your experience.
When you design your resume, remember that the casting director will be looking at it quickly, so you need to draw her eye to the most important items on the page. The resume itself should be clean, easy to read, not cluttered with inappropriate content, and should help form a great impression on the casting director as quickly as possible.
Use Word to format your resume, and to keep it up to date. Revisit it every time you have a new booking to see if it makes sense to put it on your resume. Just because you get booked for a small part on a show doesn’t necessarily mean you need to put it on your acting resume – especially as you start to do a lot of work. There just simply won’t be room for everything, so go with the highlights.
Your acting resume should be arranged in a table, with contact and representation information as a banner across the top, and your experience listed, by category, in columns below that. Put your biggest bookings at the top of each list, especially if you only have a couple of network shows and you’ve booked smaller roles on those – a small role on a network show is far more important that a leading role in a webseries.
The contact and representation information should be clean, simple and easy to refer to. Make sure that the casting director can find your agent’s/manager’s number, or, if you’re not currently represented your direct contact information, You can include both, but, for women in particular, use your voice mail or cell number so as not to have your home information exposed. Your SAG/AFTRA name, union affiliation, hair and eye color should be listed. Optionally, your height and weight, especially if any of those numbers are out of the ordinary.
Here’s a sample resume, a version of the one I use when I audition:
Notice a few things about this document: the formatting of the actual Word docx document should be 8 inches wide by 10 inches tall, to match the 8×10 headshots common in the United States (I’d love to hear from other countries as to what your standards are – use the comments below). As mentioned, union affiliations also are noted in the contact/representation sections, and there are some optional categories that are specific to my experience. If you’re a dancer or singer, you might consider adding those sections as well.
The experience section should have two columns – one for the project, and another for the hiring organization or instructor” network, director or school/teacher. Often, you’ll see a middle column for the type of role you booked (co-star, guest star, recurring, featured, etc), but the biggest agencies don’t use that column.
In the experience section, segment your work into television/film (include any internet web series here), stage, and commercial. Under commercials, just print “Conflicts available upon request” – your acting resume should be geared entirely towards the needs of a theatrical CD. Create another section for training, and another for special skills. Optionally, you can list local hire markets and have a row of thumbnails of all of your headshots, to give the casting director more options to look at. As mentioned earlier, if you have any specialty skills that you are constantly hired for and are world-class good at, you might consider making a separate whole section just for those skills. As an example, if you’re a circus performer, and can juggle, ride a unicycle, eat fire and so on, don’t just bury it in your special skills section – highlight the people who have hired you (especially if they are big names) and give the CD a fighting chance at recognizing other ways she can use you.
And don’t make the rookie mistake of listing skills that you’re just OK at, or accents you kinda can do. There are people in town who will mop up the floor with you at the audition if you can’t bring an A game to the table.
Remember that your resume is a work in progress for the rest of your career, not just something you do once and let languish. Be proactive about getting new, important work on your resume right away, and sending your representation the newest version of it for their use.
Once you’re finished formatting it in Word, make sure you save it as a PDF so you can use it online. Word lets you do this by “printing” to PDF using the Print… option under the File menu.
What’s your answer to this acting question? Let me know in the comments below.
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David, *GREAT* writeup on Resume’s. I’m generally happy with mine, but you did address a few areas in which I think I could improve the layout and headings. Thanks!!!
What sorts of things should we be focusing on booking? Anything other than extra work? Or should we focus on films? Should we try to only fill our resumes with large roles? Do CD’s like theatre as much as on camera stuff?
Thanks David. I love the addition of the photos on the bottom. I may do that with action shots from my 1-woman show. Thinking about it.
I just watched your reel-awesome!
Some CDs love those, some thing they’re not so bright. You can’t please everyone.
I want to gear my website more toward Voice Over work. Any recommendations? I don’t see many resume’s with VO sections at all.
I also specialize in character voices so i want to reflect that.
You can certainly gear a website around your VO career, but the idea of a VO resume is not something that’s commonly created. The opportunity to pass a VO resume to a casting person never comes up like it does in on-camera auditions. Certainly place your demos and your experience and examples of work on your site, and do gear it towards character voices if that’s what you want to do, but don’t be concerned about having an actual VO resume – they don’t usually exist.
I have a couple of follow-up questions for you.
1. Should those with little acting experience utilize a larger font to fill up the resume page or would a smaller font, leaving negative space, appear more professional?
2. Do you suggest utilizing a particular font or size of lettering on a resume?
I would favor readability over trying to font-size up your resume for space’s sake, so, 14-16 point readable text, with an emphasis on training and prep would probably be best. Let there be a nice wide border around everything – and in your conversation, remember – you’re a fresh face, excited to be embarking on your career. Use a normal font: Times, Tahoma, Verdana etc. NOT Comic Sans or Chalkboard.
Hope this helps.
Wow! This is great write up David!! Thanks for all the info!!
Should I list my current representation when submitting my resume to a new agency?
Absolutely. It shows two things: you’re currently represented, and that you’re honest. Both valuable to a new agent.
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