First, before I start, let me say that if you are represented by agent or manager, you should ALWAYS seek their advice and guidance on this! I have had different agents request formatting be different or ask me NOT to put my information on it at all. So please, ask them! Also keep in mind that a resume is a tool that is used to get a job. You wouldn’t apply for a corporate job with a sloppy, poorly constructed resume so don’t do it here. Auditioning is an actor’s JOB, and you need a professional resume. I’ll say that again, AUDITIONING IS AN ACTOR’S JOB. The booking is the cherry on top, or the bonus if you will. So, if you want the job/audition give them the best tools you can to get their attention.
List Your Training
So, what do you put on a resume if you’re just starting and haven’t done any gigs? When I get asked this my question, my reply is always ARE YOU IN CLASS? You should be and that’s the one thing you can put on your resume to start. It lets people know that you are serious and that you are getting the training you need. It’s ok to let people know you are just starting out and if they see you are training, they will be more likely to give you an audition. Be honest and they will appreciate you for it. If you’re just starting out, you need to be doing anything and everything to build your resume. I did TONS of free work and student films in the beginning for that reason. Every actor I know has paid their dues and done free work and/or low pay student films… every single one. The worst thing you can do is think you’re above that and not do it. It gives you experience, footage AND something true to put on that paper. It’s a necessary steppingstone in this business. So do it! The worst thing you can do, and please pay attention here, is to LIE on your resume. Don’t do it! I have had casting directors look at my resume and ask me details about a particular project. If you lie, they will know and they will NOT be happy with you. Start doing the work so you can start building a great resume.
Focus On Format
Once you have some credits, AND CLASS, let’s start growing! Format is also important. There are tons of acting resume templates on the internet. The first thing you need to decide is what kind of work you want to do. Meaning, are you more interested in commercial work, film work, TV work or theatre? Based on your answer, this is what needs to go first on your resume. For me, I have my TV credits first. That’s the first thing I want casting directors to see because that’s the work I most desire. Decide that for yourself and build yours accordingly. I also do not list commercials on my resume. There is just too many to list and I don’t have the room after my TV and film credits. However, I do keep a separate list and if I’m ever asked about those credits, I provide it. You can also list a Commercial heading with (available upon request) out to the side. That let’s them know that you have done many commercials and are willing to supply that to them if they would like to see it. Please don’t put that on your resume if you don’t have a list anywhere. It will be very awkward for you if they ask to see it and you have nothing to show. Decide what direction you want to go in your acting career and build your resume around that.
The biggest mistake I see actors make when putting together their resume is NOT listing things correctly. I have been guilty of this too. If in doubt, ask someone who has been in the business for a length of time. Again, this may vary based on your agency or manager so seek their guidance. If you are not represented, you will need to put your name and contact information (usually just your name, email and cell number) on the top of the resume.
My resume is a resource on our site to help with formatting questions and how to correctly list credits. Please look it over and note the differences between TV (list the platform) and film (list the director). New Media is a new heading based on new Screen Actors Guild guidelines. That’s a whole other blog so if you don’t understand what New Media is, please look it up. Also, notice that I put Available Upon Request next to my theatre heading (as I mentioned above doing to the commercial heading). I do not do a ton of theatre and it’s not my primary goal. As mentioned previously, I do have a list of those credits ready in case anyone ask. Your training and special skills should always be at the bottom and under separate headings. And I’ll stress this here again, DO NOT LIE ON YOUR SPECIAL SKILLS. If they are seeking a horseback rider and you have that on your resume, they will likely call you in. If you have never been on horse, that casting director will be highly upset with you and probably won’t call you in again. Be honest! These skills are things you are PROFICIENT at, so if you’ve only played tennis once, leave it off. You can also list any awards you have received for your acting at the bottom.
Keep Your Experience To The Point
The last thing I want to make clear is this….EXTRA WORK DOES NOT GO ON YOUR RESUME! Please don’t take this as you shouldn’t do it. YOU SHOULD! Again, every actor I know has done extra work to start off. It’s necessary to get on set experience and it’s a great networking tool. I highly recommend doing extra work; however, it should never show up on your resume. Remember to update your resume when you get new credits.
Above all, when in doubt, ASK. I’ll never understand why actors don’t seek the right information to do things the right way. If you want to be taken seriously in this business, then you should be treating it like a BUSINESS and showing professional materials. The information is out there so there is no excuse for doing it wrong. Now, go and get started on that resume so you can run your business like a BOSS!