When it comes to preparing your acting resume, knowing what to include can be a challenge. However, there are several items that should always be included. It is important for your resume to come off as professional and put together. This way, you will impress before you even step into the audition room! Instead of only listing the parts you’ve played, include some of the following items to dazzle directors.
What Should You Include on Your Acting Resume?
Your acting resume should include up-to-date contact information, physical attributes, memberships, past experience, education, training, primary acting skills, type, role types, and headshot. Most importantly, all of this information should be presented in a concise and organized way. You want your resume to scream, ‘professional working actor’. A jumbled resume can be confusing and make you come off as someone who is unprepared.
1. Up-to-date Contact Information
One of the most important parts of any resume is your contact information. How will casting directors and talent agents contact you if your information is not correct? Update your contact information whenever it changes. Include a working phone number and an email address. Make sure your email address sounds professional, and also be sure to note which contact method is best to reach you. If you have an agent, it is also important to list their contact info here. Most agents have a special watermark that they will place at the top of your resume when they sign you.
2. Physical Attributes
For better or for worse, booking an acting job is sometimes as much about physical appearance as it is talent. Keeping this in mind, it is important to include your physical description on your resume. Your height, hair, and eye color should appear somewhere on your resume–preferably at the very top under your name and union status. It is best to include this information at the top of your resume, this way whoever is reading your resume will be able to immediately get an idea of who you are as a person and a performer. Like your contact information, your appearance information must be updated periodically to reflect any physical changes. Many actors will also include a miniature headshot (different from the one that your resume is attached to), so that casting gets an idea of what you look like without flipping the page over to look at your headshot. This is a good opportunity for you to show two ‘looks’. Perhaps your main headshot is a smiley picture, if this is the case, put a more serious one at the top of your resume.
If you belong to any acting organizations or unions, they should also be included on your acting resume. This shows that you are serious about your acting career and that you have a network that could possibly vouch for you if needed. And if you belong to an organization that a recruiter or agent is also a member of, you already have a connection that can help during your audition. As a SAG-AFTRA or AEA member, you are only eligible for union projects. It is important for casting to know this before they bring you in for an audition. Never, ever lie about your union status.
4. Past Experience
It goes without saying that the meat of your professional acting resume should be your past acting experience. No matter what role or part you are auditioning for, you must include your past acting experience. You should indicate whether the parts were for theater productions, movie roles, or television appearances. If your acting history is small, include what you can – and never lie on your resume. A good trick, if you don’t have many credits to list, is to make the font a little bit bigger and make a good chunk of your resume devoted to your training and education. Make sure to list names of teachers you’ve had.
If you have little acting experience but have been studying to be an actor at a formal university, this section gives agents a point of reference. You should only include formal education and classes that relate directly to acting, as opposed to listing your education in full. If you went to school for theater/acting, make sure you list this– i.e. BFA Musical Theater from _______. You never know, the person behind the table could be an alum!
Your acting resume should absolutely include any training courses you have taken. This is different from formal education, as you may have studied another subject during college. Include the names of your trainers or studios, as well as what exactly was taught. Avoid being vague here – include acting techniques in as much detail as possible. Also include training related to other fields, such as singing, playing musical instruments, or public speaking. It is very important to list the names of your instructors and teachers here. The industry is a very small world and everyone knows everyone! By listing actual names of teachers, it gives you a conversation starter if the person leading the audition also knows them. This happens all the time. It is why it is also important to list your directors by name.
7. Primary Acting Skills
There are several skills involved with acting, including voice skills and combat skills. List the ones you are proficient in, as well as some detail about each. You can also include skills not related to acting, such as credentials that could come in handy. Again, don’t lie about what skills you have on your resume. A good rule of thumb is to always include whether or not you have a driver’s license and/or passport. You will also want to list whether or not you play any instruments.
8. Know Your Type
Many actors fear being typecast as their career progresses. But this can be a valuable way to advance your career if you are just starting out. Know which roles you are adept at playing. Instead of accepting any part you can, consider informing agents and recruiters about which roles you are the best fit for during auditions.
9. Know Your Role Types
When preparing your acting resume, you should include whether or not you can fill speaking or non-speaking roles. Indicate if you are best fit for leading roles, supporting roles, or voice-over parts. If you’re a non-speaker, list if you’re a body or stunt double, or an extra. You can also list any other industry roles, such as print ads or commercials, all of which can be important. To be clear, this should not be listed ON the resume itself. These are things you should know as a performer about yourself. If you are a stunt or body double, you likely will have a separate resume for that specifically. Never say in an audition room (or on your resume), “I am good at lead roles and will not accept supporting roles.” It is casting’s job to cast you, not the other way around!
10. Your Headshot
Your acting resume should be printed on the back of a headshot and cut to size. Another option is to staple or glue it to the back of the headshot. Just as listing your physical description helps agents and directors find a good place for your appearance, your headshot gives them a picture they can really see. You should update your headshot every time your appearance changes. When you arrive at your audition you should look like your headshot does. You do not want your headshot to be a ‘glamour shot’. Your headshot should look like you, on a really good hair/skin day. You should look fresh and lovely, without too much makeup or fancy hair-dos.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Make an Acting Resume:
How do you format an Acting Resume?
The format of your resume is the first thing casting directors will see. It can immediately come across as professional and put together, or jumbled and confusing. Before the casting director even reads the content of your resume, they should be able to tell that you have put effort and care into how you present yourself as a performer. Having a professional resume is the first step in showing them that you are serious about what you do.
Your name should be at the top of your resume. It is important that your name is the largest font on your resume, so that it stands out. Underneath your name I suggest listing your height, eye color, hair color, and email/phone number. This is also where you would list your agent if that applies. Most agencies will take your resume and give it a makeover when they sign you.
Next, list your credits, and finally, your training and special skills.
How many credits should you include?
Your acting resume should be one page AT MOST. Do not crowd the page with every show you’ve ever done. Instead, do your best to try and pick the most impressive roles and training experiences that you have had. Casting Directors want to be able to glance down at your acting resume during an audition without scanning for what they are looking for. Their eyes should be able to immediately go to certain roles that will inform them about who you are as an actor. Remember, you want them to be looking at YOU during an audition — not your resume. So, make the font big and the page easy to read with plenty of spacing, so that the person behind the table doesn’t spend their time scanning your resume instead of watching you shine.
What do you include on an Acting Resume?
You should always, always, always include your experience/credits, your training, your contact information and your special skills– in that order.
When it comes to your credits, list them in order of importance and it is important to categorize them based on ‘type’ of credit. For instance, if you have worked on Broadway, Off- Broadway, and on TV/Film each of those categories would be separate with the appropriate credits underneath.
An example of proper credit formatting:
Mamma Mia! Sophie Director, Location
Law and Order Guest star, Detective Jane NBC
BFA Acting, School for the Arts
Acting Resume Dos & Don’ts:
Do: Be honest about your experience
We’ve all seen the episode of ‘Friends’ where Joey lies on his resume that he is a pro dancer and then gets asked to lead a dance audition and epically fails. DON’T BE A JOEY! There is nothing worse than being placed in a situation where you cannot do what they are asking you to do in an audition. Be truthful. Be honest! You are enough.
Don’t: List every show you’ve ever been in
You don’t need to list every show you’ve ever been in. This is actually less impressive than someone who puts a handful of shows on a resume that looks professional and put together. You want your resume to be easy to read and a good indication of what kind of roles you can and could play.
Do: Name specific directors and teachers you’ve worked with
When it comes to your resume, name drop away. The acting industry is so small, and by putting names, it gives casting a chance to start a conversation with you about someone you have in common. You ALWAYS want to connect with the person behind the table, so help yourself out and find ways to have things in common with them.
Don’t: put too many special skills
Be picky when it comes to your ‘special’ skills. They are called ‘special’ for a reason! I also suggest putting mostly technique skills (i.e. tumbling, playing an instrument, dialects etc) and then adding one ‘fun’ thing (‘makes a mean chocolate chip cookie, fabulous at parking, roller disco).
Do: put time and effort into making it look professional
Take the time to make your resume look put-together and professional. Your resume is often the first thing casting looks at when deciding whether or not to bring you in for an audition. Before you even see them in person, you want to make a good impression– your resume can help you or hurt you. BIG time.
Whether it is your height, eye color, or special skills, it is so important to be honest about your experience. You never want to be in a situation where you’ve been cast because of something untruthful. For instance, if you state on your resume that you play the violin and get cast in a role that requires you to play onstage, you will likely get fired when you’re in rehearsal and the director learns that you lied. Don’t be that person.
Do: use a font that is easy to read
Your professional acting resume is not the place for fun and funky fonts. It is best to use a basic font that is easy to read. A few good choices are ‘Times New Roman’, ‘Ariel’, or ‘Cambria’.
Don’t: use different colors
It is best to keep your resume as basic and easy to read as possible. This means the only thing that should be in color is your mini headshot at the top of the page. Otherwise, when it comes to an acting resume, simple = successful.
Now, You’re Ready to Create an Awesome Acting Resume!
Preparing an acting resume may seem like a lot of work, but taking the time to do it right will build the foundation for a strong acting career. If you’re looking for expert help building your acting skills so you can land that next great job, get in touch with a theater coach or start taking group acting classes.