As famous producer Gerardine Clark once noted, the chance to break all your own rules is what makes acting so attractive. While it may be true for those engaged in acting, it is not quite so for those who want to write a professional resume. When it comes to developing a powerful acting resume, all rules must be followed in order to generate the interest of those responsible for making hiring decisions. It may well be that your drama skills are top-notch and you work hard to even make them better, but the truth of the matter is that it may not be enough to land a part in a movie or theatre production. It takes a professionally written acting resume to effectively showcase your talent and ultimately become a part of the movie or TV show. If interested, keep reading if you want to know how to create one. Lights, camera, action!
How Acting Resume is Different?
The nature of an acting career is very different from other private-sector jobs. Business management, customer service, marketing, sales, IT, human resources, etc. – all of these have many things in common. Thousands of employees all over the world work in offices to help their companies generate bigger revenues. Those pursuing an acting career rarely will sit in the office. Their life and passion is performance; their main office is the stage.
That said, an acting resume will be somewhat different from a regular business-oriented resume. Here are a couple of things that will differentiate a professional acting resume from a run-of-the-mill application document:
✔ An acting resume should not be over one page (unlike resumes written for other types of jobs that can exceed 2 or even 3 pages)
✔ Your resume must fit on the back of an 8x10 headshot that is usually required (sometimes a headshot is required to be in the body of your resume)
✔ It should contain some physical stats (height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc.)
✔ The work experience section shouldn’t feature traditional job descriptions but instead must briefly outline roles and credits
✔ The special skills section is typical for acting resumes
How to Make an Acting Resume Effective to Be Considered for the Role?
An acting resume has one thing in common with all other types of resumes around the world – it is written to match the needs and wants of a hiring person. Thus, it must be tailored to specific opportunities. So before sitting to write your main application document, make sure you study the opportunity well enough to know who exactly they are looking for. It may well be that you will save your time by pursuing other opportunities if you find your skills and talents to be irrelevant… After you have done your homework to research the opening, it is time to proceed to plan your resume content (we recommend creating a resume outline).
What to Include in an Acting Resume Template?
Keep in mind, no matter how good you look or how talented in acting you are, your resume plays a great role in ensuring you will be seriously considered for a role. So you have to approach resume writing responsibly. The very first step is to put down key resume components that will make up your main self-marketing document. For an acting resume template, these components are:
- Your name along with contact details
- Agent’s contact info
- Acting Credits
- Educational Credentials
- Special skills
- Additional references
These are critical components of an effective acting resume template. It may well be that you don’t have all of them –then you can focus on what you have. In case you have too many things to say in the context of the aforementioned sections, we recommend dropping the amateur credits. As you gain more exposure to the industry, you have to stick to the most recent credentials to keep that resume down to one page. Lastly, make sure the document is flawless in terms of grammar and doesn’t contain any kind of errors.
Acting Resume Format Tips
When you know the layout and the structure of your acting resume, it is time to think about how this content will be formatted. The best way to list your credentials on the document is to use reverse-chronological format which implies featuring your most recent experiences first. This is standard practice and a general rule for effective resume writing. The reason behind this is that decision-makers always want to see your recent experiences first as it provides them with a better insight into what you can offer today… So whether you are working on your acting credits or education sections, make sure to list everything in reverse-chronological format.
Also, we don’t recommend going for creative resume designs with an abundance of graphic elements. You don’t have to worry about showing off your creativity – you will have a chance to demonstrate that during your auditions. Most people who look to hire actors and actresses prefer a traditional clean format. It would be wise to leave some white space in between the sections to make the document easy readable.
How to List Roles on Acting Resume?
A stellar acting resume is always based on accuracy and listing roles is a big part of it. If you have a great work history in acting then you may want to group credits by categories. For example, if you are having an audition for a role in a movie, then list relevant credits first. If your most impressive credits aren’t the most recent ones, you may want to remove the dates altogether (see example below). This is basically your work experience section but with no details as to what you did specifically in detail. How to list roles on an acting resume? Easy! The rule is to include the name of the show, the type of role, and the company/studio associated with its production. Done! For example,
As you can see, there are no other details that are usually present on other types of resumes. Casting Directors don’t really care if you helped the cameraman or assisted the production team with the tasks at hand. So don’t bother to include anything except the key information. If you are not sure what kind of how to list roles on acting resume, here are different types of roles:
Speaking Roles for Acting Resumes
Lead: this is usually the most important character in the show or movie
Principal: this role has recurring scenes opposite lead to progress storyline
Supporting/Day Player: limited to a few lines only
The Voice-Over Artist: nobody can see the person; does the voice-over
Non-Speaking Roles for Acting Resumes
Featured: aimed to lend credibility to a scene (police officer, taxi driver, etc.)
Extra: meant to liven up scenes (doctor, passer-by, etc.)
Stunt Performer: professional actors performing different stunts
Stand-In: takes the place of an actor during the lengthy scene setup
Body Double: used for shots requiring depictions of physical fitness or nudity.
Special Skills for Acting Resume
Special skills for acting resume is pretty much the same as technical proficiency for an IT resume. However many actors underestimate this portion of a resume; it is an important section because as it can be used as another opportunity to demonstrate relevant skills that you have for the role. Because there usually are many nuances coming with different roles, special skills for acting resume can become a big lifesaver because that’s where you can show you understand those nuances. However, you always want to be honest when listing your skills. While it is unlikely that the casting director will make you demonstrate any particular skills, it is still not a good reason to put there something you are not capable of. You don’t want to end up doing stunts if you have never done them before, right? In other words, don’t include skills that you don’t have nor try to stretch the truth (watching Sherlock TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t necessarily make you proficient in speaking with the British accent.
Before drafting this section, you might want to review the role requirements once again to see what the most important skills for the role are. This will help you select relevant information to include in this section. Below are some examples of special skills for an acting resume:
- Accents (Australian, British, etc.)
- Fluency in another language (Spanish, Russian, etc.)
- Fitness level
- Musical instrument
- Combat training
Make sure to highlight unique special skills that are relevant to the role requirements. Don’t get cheeky though – kissing, running, shopping are not considered special skills.
Acting Resume With No Experience
Just because you don’t have experience doesn’t mean you can’t have a powerful acting resume. In other words, acting resume with no experience can still land you a role if written well. What really matters for casting directors is your talents, skills, and what you can bring to the acting profession. Additionally, you may want to add skills that are related to acting, such as attention to detail, composure, etc.
If you are writing an acting resume for beginners, it is likely you have performed in the past even if it was not on a professional level. Be it a school production, community playhouse role or neighborhood play, make sure to include these things on the document. Ultimately, there is no such thing as an acting resume with no experience. Any type of performance is already an experience. Anything that displays your acting talent can help you succeed during auditions. Besides, if you have other types of experience on your resume, try to emphasize their creative aspects. A variety of jobs allow for creativity and an opportunity to wear different masks.
Another thing that can help your acting resume with no experience is your versatility and special skills. If you have special talents that will enable you to play specific roles, make sure to highlight this kind of information. If you want to go a step further, you can add a video link to your resume that will highlight these talents.
Lastly, make the most out of your cover letter. This is the document where you can communicate your passion and dedication for an acting role. A well-written cover letter can somewhat compensate for the lack of experience.
Acting Resume Template
Here is an acting resume template that demonstrates how to convert all of the aforementioned tips into a clean yet powerful acting resume. While it may not be attractive for office managers, it clearly offers something the casting directors want to see. As a bonus, you can download the Word document below and use it to build your own resume!