Applying for a new job is never easy. However, landing a coveted role in a movie, ad or music video may be an even more challenging task.
According to money.usnews.com actors made a median salary of $43,760 in 2020. The best-paid 25 percent made $60,760 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $28,080.
To get the job you want, you will first need an effective resume and cover letter. In this article, we will look into how to write an acting resume that may just get you the role you want.
Here’s what we will look into.
- What an acting resume is and why you need it
- How to structure an actor resume that highlights all the right points
- Tips and examples on how to list your skills and achievements
- An acting resume example that you can use as the base for your application and more.
If you are looking for a step-by-step guide on how to write an effective cover letter, check out our article on Acting Cover Letter Example and Advice from HR Pros.
Let’s get started.
What is an acting resume?
An actor resume, true to its name, is a resume for actors. You will need it if you want to apply for a role in film, television, theater or other acting media.
An acting resume typically needs to fit in a single sheet of paper and must also include a headshot.
You will use your active resume to show casting directors that you are the right person for the job, have the relevant skills and possibly even experience of acting in similar projects.
What to include in an actor resume?
There are several sections that you should typically have on your actor resume. These are:
- Your contact details
- Your agent’s contact details (if you have one)
- Basic information and headshot thumbnail
- Resume summary
- Acting credits
- Formal education (if you have a relevant degree)
- Workshops and training you’ve taken
- Special skills
- References from previous acting work, testimonials, reviews, etc.
- Call to action
Now, let’s unpack each of these sections with a bit more detail.
Here everything is pretty much straightforward. Include your full name and the contact information at which you can be reached. There is no need to include your full address. Typically, you will need to just mention your email and phone number.
If you are working with an agent, you will need to include their contact details next. The casting director may be reaching out to your agent first if they have more questions, to invite you to an audition or more.
Basic information and headshot thumbnail
Here you will include some basic information about your physical appearance. This includes height and weight (optional). There is typically no need to go into further detail and add details about your hair or eye colors as these will be visible in a headshot.
If you are attaching a headshot to your resume, include a thumbnail at the top of the page. This will help the casting director instantly know whose resume they are looking at.
A resume summary is a brief introduction of who you are. Include a few lines about acting skills, experience and credentials.
In this section of your resume, list your acting credits. This may include theatre credits, film credits, TV credits and more.
It’s best to group and list your credits by project type. They should generally be listed in reverse-chronological order.
But if your acting jobs are not equal in their “value”, start with the biggest, most well-known or otherwise most impressive credits. You don’t have to list your acting credits in chronological order.
For more information on resume formats, check out our article on Top Resume Formats: Tips and Examples of 3 Common Formats.
You can choose what credits you want to add to your resume and what may be best to leave out.
Education and training
Here, add information about your acting education.
This section of your resume shouldn’t take more than a third of your resume page. However, if you end up having some extra space, make sure to add the names of your instructors, especially if they have weight in the industry. Having a well-recognizable name on your resume can add credibility to your application and spike the interest of the hiring director. Plus, you can use your instructors as potential references.
If you’ve taken additional acting classes, attended a workshop or training, put this information here.
Special skills are things that you can do very well that may be useful in your acting career. There are different categories of special skills and you should group and list them accordingly.
Examples of special skills include:
Sports, dance and playing musical instruments
Foreign languages you speak and accents you can do
Voices you can do and so on
References from previous work, testimonials and reviews
If you have references or reviews from your previous acting work, these can be very helpful in helping you land a new gig. Do not include full texts of your references in your resume. Instead, simply list the references you have available and mention that they are attached as separate documents.
Tips for writing an actor resume
Here are some additional best practices for writing an acting resume that works.
Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. If you are applying for a role in a movie, your resume should reflect that you have relevant experience and skills. If you are applying to act in a commercial, make changes in your resume to emphasize that you are a good commercial actor.
Use a clear format. A poorly formatted resume won’t get you far. Casting directors are especially busy people and they have seen it all. Unless your resume is interesting and easy to read, they might not give it a second look and your chances for getting an audition will be very low.
Don’t get too creative. Yes, acting is a creating profession. But you should leave your creativity for the stage. Your resume may show a glimpse of your exciting personality but it should also be practical, brief and to the point. It should have all the information the casting director might need to make a decision and make sure this information is easily accessible.
Send your resume in PDF format. Unless otherwise specified, you should send your resume as a PDF document. This is the most popular resume format and is generally compatible with any device. Make sure the casting manager doesn’t have to spend any extra time figuring out how to open your resume file.
Acting resume example: reverse-chronological order
Summing things up
So, let’s sum up what makes a good acting resume.
- First, make sure your resume is focused on the position you are applying for. It’s essential that the skills and experience you list on your resume are used as proof that you are the best person for this specific job.
- Second, the format does matter. Make sure your resume is clear and easy to read and has all the information the casting director might require.
- Use reverse chronological format when listing your acting experience. However, if your biggest acting roles were the earlier ones, it would be best to list them first.
- Your acting resume shouldn’t be over a page long.
- If you have references, you can send them as separate files together with your resume.
Learn more about how to write a resume.
Acting cover letter
An ideal resume is a combination of content that would allow you to stand out and format that is
ATS-friendly, neat and comfortable to read. Learn more about writing the perfect resume here, and be sure to
check out expert tips on creating an effective Acting cover letter to go with your resume.
Go to cover letter
Seun Ibukun has spent several years working in media, comms and HR. He has multiple degrees in linguistics and loves to talk about literature, tech, and offer career advice. He`s currently hanging out in the tropics on the first leg of a world tour.