How to Write an Actor’s Resume: Part II

In Part I of this series, we examined a few key formatting ideas for constructing an actor resume. Here are a few more tips to help you get your resume up to snuff:

Keep a Master Copy

I have several versions of my acting resume. Various incarnations of my resume are geared toward film, theatre, commercial, and voice over work. Just like any other job, you want to think of your target audience. If you are auditioning for film work, put your film experience on the top. Sacrifice things that are not relevant to your particular audition. However, having multiple versions of one resume is a good way to let things slip through the cracks. To avoid this, keep your entire professional history on one master copy. Include every insignificant unpaid project, every master class, every isolated gig. You never know when you might need the information, and it is better not to rely on memory.

Lingo

Pay special attention to the terms used in your resume. Nontraditional terms can have the ring of an amateur. For example, most directors prefer the distinctions “theatre” and “musical theatre” as opposed to “straight theatre” and “musical theatre.” Make sure you are using proper terms instead of merely describing projects (“industrial” rather than “in-house training shoot”). If you are not sure how to bill a certain project, ask the people involved.

Special Skills

The special skills section often leaves actors nonplussed. Common things to list here are dialects, musical instruments, unusual physical abilities, etc. Things that don’t necessarily seem like skills, such as having a valid driver’s license, can also be of great use to casting departments. Think about what might be needed in any given project. Now is the time to brag about your fourth grade-level proficiency in rollerblading.

What Not to Do

I really only have two big rules for writing a resume:

1. Don’t lie.

Just don’t. It is not worth it, you will get caught, and your reputation will suffer. Also, it isn’t a great thing to do, you know, just as a person.

2. Don’t put anything on your resume you are not prepared to display on the day of your audition.

If you put “Russian Dialect” on your resume, it does not matter whether you did a killer accent three years ago in Boris and Natasha’s Big Comeback. What matters is whether or not you can do one today, on request. If you can’t, take it off your resume and save it for later.

Remember, you will be writing and revising your resume throughout your career, until you are rich and famous enough to pay people to do that for you. So have fun and find a method that works for you (as long as it also works for directors and casting directors). Happy writing!

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com