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A Simple Guide to Building a Professional Actor's Résumé

by Aimee Mitchell

There are certain ways to perform when you are an actor – particular little ways of doing things that make you stand out from the crowd. It should be the same with an actor's résumé. Each and every single one will be different in its content, but its needs to be consistent with the industry norm layout and structure.

Presenting a good, consistent and professional acting résumé to a casting director or talent agent is just as important as performing an audition. In fact, one could say it is more important because of its value – it is the absolute first thing that a casting director gets to see of you, and therefore it absolutely has to be done correctly.

A great mistake that is easily avoided is to ensure that you use a layout that is clear and easy to read while remaining informative. Even if you have absolutely no credits whatsoever – no experience and no training – your résumé still needs to be read so that a casting director knows exactly who he may be inviting for audition. So, remember to be concise and most importantly, be honest.

Do a little homework now. Look to see how actors set out their résumé. Do they use a particular size of font, a certain size of paper, a specific type of paper? You won't get it right unless you have a look at another résumé. If this isn't possible, then take in the following points before you start – and remember, not every single résumé is the same, and casting directors and talent agents will notice a résumé that isn't quite to the industry norm (lets remember here that there are no strict and fast rules and regulations) but you could be making it harder for yourself to get that audition just by making a small mistake – by rushing it and designing an actors résumé that has errors, it could cost you dearly:

  • Use 8 x 10 inch white paper to match the size of your headshot or photo.
  • If you are affiliated with a union or guild, such as SAG or AFTRA, list all below your name.
  • Under your name, specify what you do (dancer / singer / actor) or all of these. If you are just an actor, you may omit this.
  • If you are a singer, remember to note your voice range.
  • Do not forget to add your name and contact details (or the name and contact info for your agent).
  • Ensure you describe yourself with weight, height, eye and hair color.
  • Inform the reader of your dialect, or list different accents you can perform.
  • Add your most important experiences to date, list under films / television / theatre etc. and put down the location too.
  • List a Director's or actors name that you worked with if the person is well-known.
  • Add a list of training that you have had, or are currently taking part in.
  • Finally, ensure you attach a good professional-standard headshot to the reverse of the résumé.
As an actor, your potential employer will be reading this and with any luck meeting you so be honest about your experiences and about how you look. Lying or emblishing just to 'soup up' your résumé is a no-no! This is a small world, no matter how small a lie you will be found out and possibly excluded from any future castings. Avoid your name being blacklisted for better chances in the future.

As you get more and more work, edit your acting résumé and keep it fresh. Evaluate what is, and is no longer, important and delete it – it's better to add one major job and two small ones than one major job plus ALL of your others! Make fonts smaller as you go – but not so small that your résumé is hard to read. If it won't fit, then play around with the setting. Your résumé must look neat, readable and professional to get you in with a chance of being 'seen' and gaining an audition.
Aimee Mitchell is an acting coach, short story author, community theater director and playwright. She has spent the better part of her adult life working with young actors and actresses.

Copyright © Aimee Mitchell. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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