by Paul Russell
How to Create the Best Actor Résumé That Gets Auditions
Smart marketers know well how to nab your attention making the sale while exploiting personal interests. Actors can hold casting’s attention and score an audition (or talent representation) with résumés leveraging successful techniques modern marketers exploit.
Top 5 Résumés Every Actor Must Have
Having one-résumé-fits-all-needs is poor actor-marketing.
Legit casting and agents have no interest in your commercial, voice-over, and extra history. In contrast, commercial casting and agents care little for your playing the Bard on the boards in Barrington, VT.
As marketers target individual consumer’s interests so must an actor. That begins with the actor’s résumés.
Résumé 1 – The Everyday General Legit Actor’s Résumé:
This résumé is purposeful for:
– Your website (A résumé visitors can download and print.)
– Carried with you everywhere (You’ll never know when industry bumps occur; ask the actor I met in the Sarasota airport, or the actor who approached me at my local QuickChek.)
– Seeking talent representation
How to Categorize the Everyday Legit Actor’s Résumé:
Lead with your most impressive employment field. For some actors this will be screen credits (TV, Film & New Media). For other actors more impressive areas of work may be New York Theater, or Regional Theater, or Educational Theater.
Résumé 2 – TV, Film & New Media Résumé:
Acting for the box (Movie screen, TV, computer, and smart phone) is a learned technique vastly differing from playing to a 2,800 seat cavern. Screen casting immediately wants to know viewing your résumé if you have the skills of immediate acting intimacy. Sell that history first.
A résumé for screen acting begins with a listing of the following areas of principal work history:
An actor with stage credits follows the above categories with the following areas of actor employment:
New York Theater (This would include Broadway, Off-Broadway & NYC Showcases. See Note below on Résumé 3 if your theater work is primarily outside of metro NY.)
Educational Theater (For students and recent acting school graduates. This is removed 2 – 3 years after schooling is completed as professional credits outweigh an amateur history.)
Résumé 3 – Actor’s Theater Résumé:
The actor’s theatrical résumé begins with their strongest category of their best principal, theatrical history.
The theatrical résumé order is:
New York Theater (Broadway, Off-Broadway & NYC Showcases)
Industrials (Optional; only industrial casting has interest in this category)
Educational Theater (Removed as professional credits grow)
Film, TV & New Media
NOTE: Multiple theater credits on a single continent that are not in North America, or within a city like Chicago, are categorized by region (i.e. European Theater, Chicago Theater, etc.)
Résumé 4 – Commercial / Voice-Over Résumé
Commercial & voice-over casting and representation are generally tended by the same family of employment gate keepers. A casting brood where look, (sound for voice-over), and type trumps talent.
Begin with the more prestigious commercial credits, followed by voice-over credits.
Add several screen credits, followed by a smattering of prestigious theatrical credits. Adding non-commercial acting credits displays you’re not just a face/type that matches a corporation’s narrow wants; these additional credits provide sample history of actual acting.
Résumé 5 – Extra / Background Résumé
Extra & background casting is based on look. Begin your extra / background résumé with your best extra credits.
NOTE: With Legit casting and talent representation, the pompous elevation of an extra credit to ‘Featured Extra’ is a red flag flapping actor insecurity; lack of honesty; and that you’re a tin-foil-hat-wearing extra squirreling savings for a never-to-be star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. NEVER claim to be a ‘Featured Extra!’ It’s a nonesuch delineation.
After extra / background credits, include:
TV & Film (Under this category place your most prestigious acting credits: Under Five (U/5), Day Player, or Principal.)
Special Skills note:
Non-special skills such as running, driving, jump-rope skipping, diving and similar ilk are best added to commercial & extra résumés. Commercial and extras casting cast first by look, second by ‘skill’ the client and/or director demands.
On a Legit résumé for principal work the prior, superfluous ‘special’ skills are not special skills to be included. Legit résumés special skills include; dialects, languages, instruments played, stage/screen combat skills, dance skills, vocal skills, and gymnastics.
For principal casting projects that specify a special skill; make the receiver of your inquiry aware you possess that skill. Don’t weigh-down a Legit principal résumé with every ‘skill’ imaginable making the bottom of your résumé as verbose as War & Peace.
Proper Actor’s Résumé Format:
IMPORTANT: There’s an industry standard for actor résumé formatting (layout, and what’s to be included). A format that allows easier reading of your credentials by strangers. A résumé format meeting requirements utilized by talent representation, and well-established actors.
Information on How to Format Your Résumé to Industry Standard.
Always have the above five actor résumés ready. When a principal, film audition notice comes your way, send your Film, TV & New Media industry-formatted résumé. Same as for the other work areas of acting; target your history to opportunity. You’ll leap ahead of the competition with your marketing. I guarantee it.
Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher, and former actor has spanned thirty years. He’s worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul’s taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU, and speaks at universities including Elon, Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.