Yes, your actor resume is hard to write. But it’s your single greatest tool when marketing yourself. The goal is to tell them who you are, and what you can do as an actor. All in 10 seconds.
Why only 10 seconds? Because that’s how long anyone will look at it before they move on. We’ll show you how.
The Anatomy of a Resumé
The acting resume format is somewhat flexible. It should be hand-tailored to fit you. But here are some of the standard sections:
- At the top. Your name in large, bold letters. Followed by your contact info, height, weight, hair color, eye color, and union associations.
- Credits. The roles you had in plays, musicals, films, TV shows, commercials, voiceovers, etc. Don’t have a lot of experience? We’ll talk about that later.
- Training. Where you studied and what kind of program. If you’ve had quality acting training, directors are liable to take you more seriously.
- Special skills. Do you speak another language? Do you play an instrument? Can you drive a car? Those are all special skills.
Okay, this is a lot of info. So let’s look at some acting resume samples…
Knowing (And Using) Your Type
We’d all love to be Meryl Streep or Daniel Day-Lewis, playing a wide range of interesting characters. But the truth is, most working actors fall victim to type-casting. Directors look at you and say, “He’s a leading man type,” or “She’s the best friend type…”
But here’s the good news: You can use type-casting to get more acting work!
Look in the mirror and imagine who you might play in a movie. Are you the girl next door, the bombshell, the romantic lead, the funnyman? Once you know, you can tell them how to cast you.
Tell Them How to Cast You
That’s right. We said it. Tell them how to cast you.
Take this guy for example. He’s tall, thin, and funny. He’s a character actor. Notice his resume (and his photos, and his videos, etc) don’t indicate leading man. His resume is full of villians, clowns, and poets.
When a casting director sees that actor resume, he understands immediately who this actor is and what he can do. That makes him marketable.
So find out your type and play into it. You’ll thank us later.
Well, everyone has to start somewhere.
If you have no experience, then go down to your local community theatre and ask to be in the chorus. Or volunteer to be in a student film. Or become a movie extra.
Whatever you do, don’t lie on your actor resume. You will get caught. And because acting is a small industry, you’ll be black-listed. Trust us, we’ve seen it happen.
How you present your experience is also very valuable. Chances are, you’ve done some acting somewhere. In high school, or an acting class, or a high school acting class, whatever the case…
So be proud of your accomplishments. Have confidence in yourself.
- White space is good. The human eye is easily overwhelmed. Leave some breathing room on the page.
- Don’t list every credit. Directors are not impressed by how many plays you’ve done, they only care if your work is good.
- Make it 8’x10′. Not 8.5’x11′. Because it will be stapled to the back of your professional headshots.
- One page only. Unlike the business world, your actor resume should be kept to one page and no longer.
- Leave out personal info. Don’t list your address, home phone, or social security number on your resume.
- Use an acting cover letter. If you’re mailing your headshot, make sure to include a letter.
The Bottom Line
Your actor resume is great for telling directors what kind of actor you are. If you can do that, you’re bound to get hired!
Free Acting Resume Samples and Examples
If you’re looking for free acting resume samples, you’ve found them. Click on the example resume that is closest to your career situation, and you can download a full sized version. Then, simply follow the format. It’s that easy.
The Beginner’s Resume
If you’re just starting your acting career, there’s one rule to follow about your resume: Keep it simple.
What does this do? It makes you honest. Directors receive padded resumes all day, and it’s a real turn-off. When you hand over your mostly white page, it’ll be a refreshing change.
That being said, any experience is experience. Were you a spear holder in Hamlet at your high school? Were you Joseph in your church’s Nativity play? Done any children’s theatre? Put it all on your actor resume.
Had any training? Write it down. Put it in bold so that it draws the eye. Training shows that you’re serious. And there’s always the chance that your auditors know your teachers. (It’s a small world, the acting biz.)
The Student Actor’s Resume
As a student (or recent grad), your first instinct will be to fill your resumé with credits, courses, and master classes. But wait…
The same advice from above still applies: Keep it simple.Sure, do a little name dropping if you think it will help. But don’t go overboard.
We’ve seen recent grads list every class they ever took, and the actual skill level.
“Ballet 4, Jazz 3, Tap 2…”
Directors don’t care about that stuff. In fact, they’ll see it as pretentious and try-hard. If you want to market yourself as an actor, don’t try to impress.
Instead, focus on using your type. Tell them how to cast you. What roles have you played that you could play again in the real world? List them at the top.
Also, list professional credits towards the top, and educational credits toward the bottom. In time, you won’t need to list your high school and college credits at all.
The Professional’s Resume
In this acting resume sample, there’s very little mention of training, and all of the community and educational theatre credits are gone. Also gone are your stats: Height, weight, vocal range, etc. Why?
Because by now, casting directors know you and your work. Your resumé becomes less of an introduction, and more of a reminder.
Also notice that you’re no longer getting calls at home: You’ve got an agent or manager for that.
But what should you list first? Theatre? TV and film? It depends on what you want to pursue, and where in the world you are.
If you’re looking to do theatre and you’re in New York, Chicago, or London, theatre credits go at the top.
But if you’re in LA or Vancouver and your itching to do film or commercial work, those credits go at the top. This acting resume sample is just a guide.
Make it Your Own
As you can see, each actor’s journey is unique. Some of us aim for the theatre, some for film, some for voiceover, etc. Some of us have extensive training, some of us have none at all. Some of us are just beginning, others are old hat.
As a result, no two resumés will look the same. Be creative. Make it look good. Staple it to the back of your professional headshots and you’ve got a winning combination!