How to Write an Actor’s Resume: Part I

Writing and maintaining a resume can be overwhelming. Endless possibilities and ever-evolving industry preferences can make for a thankless and seemingly Sisyphean task. But do not lose hope! A few simple tips can serve as a great foundation for a lifetime of rewrites and rebranding! Coincidentally, many of those incredibly useful tips can be found right here.

Heading

Let’s start from the top. (I know. Sometimes the sheer class of my wordsmithery amazes me too). Simply put, your name should be the biggest thing on your resume. It should be in a clearly legible font that nonetheless hints at your type. When you present your name you are branding yourself as an actor and a professional.  Stay away from cheesy or controversial fonts such as Papyrus and Comic Sans. Basically this is like trying to be cool in high school—you want the appearance of an effortlessly free-thinking individual, while still conforming to certain norms. A good exercise might be to show friends and colleagues a selection of fonts and ask them which look the most like your personality.

Overall Appearance

Your resume should be accessible. The last thing you want to do is make reading your resume more work than it is worth. Avoid clutter, chaos, and teeny tiny font sizes (the majority of your resume should not dip below an 11-point font size). Cheats like dramatically reducing margin sizes will allow you to fit more in, but the cost is an overwhelming reading experience. Keep your margins reasonable and clean, your topic headings consistent, and your information concise.

Order and Structure

The particulars of structuring your resume are subjective. There are no absolutes here, and many variations on the same themes are equally acceptable. To get you started, here is an example of a standard resume structure, top to bottom:

  1. Name
  2. Info: website, email, phone, voice type, union affiliation, height, hair color, eye color
  3. Body: this is where you list your professional credits. It is generally expressed in three columns—more on that later.
  4. Training and Education: Workshops, styles, classes, etc.
  5. Special Skills

Formatting is king when crafting resume. This is the time to unleash your latent OCD and nerd out over details. Get super familiar with whatever program you are using. Pro Tip: You know that little “L” in the upper left corner of your MS Word document? It is your flirty new friend. Take it out to dinner and get to know it. That little margin marker and its buddies will result in beautifully precise columns and symmetrical framing.

Organizing Information

Value quality over quantity. If you are struggling to fit your professional history on one page, congratulate yourself on being a working actor and then start making cuts. The way you present your credits will depend largely on preference. For instance, while most actors list their resumes in three columns, some prefer to list the play first, while others start with their role. Research preferences of directors in your city, and keep an ear to the ground for changing trends. Below is an example:

Type of Work (Film, Theatre, etc.) 

Name of Project (Dir. Joe Director in 8 pt. font)                   Role                   Name of Acting Company/Venue

Name of Project (Dir. Jane Director in 8 pt. font)                 Role                   Name of Acting Company/Venue

There is also some debate among young actors over whether it is best to list roles in chronological order or order of importance. Unless otherwise directed, I generally top the list with a large role that exemplifies my type, follow it with an interesting or nontraditional role, and then continue on in from largest role to smallest.

That’s it for Part I! Be sure to check back soon for Part II.

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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

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