Although we don’t always like the notion, as performers, we are brands, and as brands, we must market ourselves in the best light possible. Aside from a headshot, the resume is an actor’s No. 1 tool for auditioning. Designing a resume correctly is sometimes an utterly painful process, but always an imperative one.
In the theatre world, production teams are inundated with actors vying for a part in their show. To get even an audition is a triumph. So, think of your resume as your golden ticket that will set you apart and show the casting team you deserve to be seen.
While this process is subjective, here is an overall guide for putting together an exceptional acting resume:
Here’s a semi-obvious reminder: Your resume should always fit on a single page. Although digital is taking over, a lot of casting directors still prefer a physical copy.
Your resume should be printed and stapled to the back of your headshot. As an industry standard, headshots are 8×10 inches. This means your resume should be cut down to that size as well so it’s flush.
Stores like Staples have cutting boards you can use, so consider printing your resume there and then trimming off the excess paper. On a related side note, get your headshot printed at a place that specializes in producing actors’ headshots to size. For you city folk, Reproductions.com is top-notch.
Well-crafted resumes are like chameleons: They have the ability to both blend in and stand out.
It should blend in the sense that it encapsulates the standard look of a resume. Most teams don’t have time to adjust to some wildly formatted “Look at me, I’m different!” style.
That being said, your resume should still stand out enough. While a typical format is good to use, there are liberties that can be taken to make it more “you.” The biggest one is your font. Choose a font that fits your personality — nothing crazy, of course! However, if it’s legible and will separate you from all those Times New Romans out there, go for it.
You can also play around with color — albeit sparingly. Your name, which should be in the largest font on the page, is a great place to change colors. Again, don’t go nuts and use a hot pink or something, but a subdued color can make your name pop suitably.
As stated previously, try out your name in a color and fun font. If you have representation, you should put their logo beside your name. Also include the following information:
- Union affiliations (SAG-AFTRA or Equity, etc.), if any.
- The contact information you list should be the best way to reach you. Generally that’s your phone number and email. Don’t put your full address. You can also list your website or IMDB page.
- Personal information such as height, weight, hair color and eye color. Don’t write your age unless you’re under 18.
- You can also put your voice part here if you’re interested in musical theatre.
The final product will be some variation of this:
YOUR NAME [SAG-AFTRA]
Phone Number/ Email/ Website
Height: Weight: (optional) Hair Color: Eye Color:
There’s a common misconception that the more credits listed on the page, the more professional you look. However, you almost want the opposite. Choose your best and most recent roles and allow for the blank space to shine through. White space makes it much easier to read.
People are typically only going to spend a few seconds looking at your resume, so have your most impressive roles (or, where possible, the ones that relate to the role you’re submitting for) at the top.
It’s tempting to keep everything in chronological order, but if the credits are within a similar time frame, it’s much better to have the notable ones listed first. Again, if you had a starring role in high school and are now almost 30, don’t keep that on your resume. Also, don’t put “background work” on your resume unless you were featured or had a line.
Depending on the mediums you work in, have bold headings that separate your credits (i.e., THEATRE, TELEVISION, FILM, etc.) If you’re looking to go in for multiple types of projects, create various versions of your resume. When auditioning for theatre, have your theatre credits listed first. The same goes for movies and TV. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to cast you.
Credits should always be in three separate columns. The following is the format for listing theatre credits: SHOW NAME, ROLE and THEATRE COMPANY. If there is a notable director or producer, you should definitely put that down, too. Here is an example of how credits should be formatted:
Spring Awakening Mortiz Eugene O’Neill Theatre
Television and film credits are similar, but should be stylized as follows: PROJECT TITLE, TYPE OF ROLES (not your character), and NETWORK/PRODUCTION CO. (or director/producer if notable).
This goes without saying, but you never want to lie on your resume. The truth always comes out!
Although this portion of your resume is straightforward, it’s one of the most important to ace. Showing you’ve received proper training is incredibly vital. Sure, you might be the next Jennifer Lawrence, harboring heaps of raw talent, but you can’t exactly write that on your resume without sounding pompous.
Simply put the name of the institution, class or workshop and instructor. And if you haven’t had an opportunity to train yet, don’t sweat it!
Time to have fun! This section of the resume is really the only spot where you can add a bit more personality.
Depending on how much room there is, list any special skills that you feel set you apart and could be utilized for a future role. There are no strict guidelines for this section, except that what you write should be a skill and not a fun fact.
If you put down that you can do some type of accent, that’s awesome! Just make sure you can really do it — you never know when casting will ask to hear it.
It can be quirky to have little asides in this section. For example, if you can twist your entire body into a pretzel, you could playfully write, “amateur contortionist (seriously, ask me to do some moves!).”
Overall, use your best judgement while typing up your resume and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.