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Laurieby Casting Director, Laurie Records

…list commercials on their resume. Or should they?

Everyone knows that commercials shouldn’t be listed on an actor’s resume. In theory. Maybe. Hummm. The truth is, I’m often asked how an actor might give more information or brag, if you will, about the commercials they have done… on their resume. It seems that the “no listing” rule is changing and there are many different methods actors are using to make the most of their commercial bookings.

Commercial actors should never list their commercials on their resume… or perhaps, maybe they should.

Let it be said that I don’t make the rules. All you (ever) gain in this column is my personal insight and opinion. I’ll give you what I’m seeing out there, tell you the stories, and you decide for yourself what you should do.

*What has typically been done:

Commercials: List available upon request
Commercials: Conflicts available upon request

At this point in time, these both are still good, safe options.

*Some other options you might consider listing under the commercial category:

Over 50+ (or whatever #) national commercials. I like this. It’s impressive. If you are an actor who has worked a lot commercially, this may be a good option for you. When you have shot two local commercials, it’s not so impressive. I don’t have a magic number… if 10 nationals (cable or network) feels good to you, go for it. For a child actor, this could be impressive, as well as if you reside in a smaller market. All these are things you should consider when deciding if this is a good option for you.

Production Companies. Some actors are listing all, or giving a sampling of the commercial production companies they have worked for. When you have worked for the big ones, why not list them? Just smaller ones? Is that better than nothing? Use your discretion.

Directors. This may be one of my favorite options. Some actors are listing the commercial directors they have worked with. This, like anything else, is most effective when the director(s) are well known.

I say… list what is most impressive. If the production company you’ve worked for is a biggie, but the commercial was with an unknown director, list the production company. When you’ve worked with a big director, I don’t see a huge advantage to listing the production company as well. Directors move around in their career, and it could date when you shot with them.

Role type. I’ve seen this done. I’m not sure what I think about it. The assumption is that you want me to know what you book, commercially. Midwest Mom. Got it. Hopefully I can figure that out from your headshots. The role type is usually listed in conjunction with other information. You choose. I could take it or leave it.

Commercial. Yes, actors… even (especially?!) veterans are listing them now. I find it interesting, informative and risky. It may cause me to fear you are holding a conflict and not call you in. But… if I know you, you have a good agent, have been around the commercial block a few times, I may trust that you are listing past commercials with which you are no longer holding a conflict. I think when you’re tempted to list your actual commercial titles, consider adding a line letting the casting director (producer, director, ad agency exec… whomever may be looking at your resume) that you are no longer holding a conflict for any of the listed commercials.

Commercial/Role Type/Prod Co./Ad Agency. This is the “give them everything” option. It is pretty much the most information you could possibly list… most actors are choosing some combination of this, but not every last detail. And then again, some are.

Leave commercials off entirely. This is happening too. If you need the room on your resume for your numerous theatrical credits, it seems to be totally legit to leave off the obligatory “Commercial conflicts avail upon request” line.

Extra work. I hope this goes without saying…. Don’t list your commercial extra work. Do it for the (pretty decent) paycheck, not for the resume.

How do you determine which option(s) are best for you? It will be dependent on all things specific to you. I believe your Agent should be the one to decide, if you have one. They certainly should approve of your decision.

When you have had the good fortune of having a decent commercial career, why not find a way to brag a little about it on your resume? Let that success open a few doors for you. It could open you up to being seen in new/additional commercial offices, to co-star roles, to getting a manager… use your commercial success to further your career as a whole. Commercials don’t have to be for the paycheck alone, anymore.

Laurie Records, Casting Director