How to Write an Actor’s Resume
So, you need to write an actor’s resume. Perhaps you have some roles under your belt and experience to put down, or perhaps it is your first time stepping onto a professional stage and you are worried about how to make an acting resume with no experience.
This article will walk you through what a good actor’s resume needs, what bad examples look like and how to make yours spot-on.
You will need an actor’s resume if you are seeking an acting role in theater, advertising, TV or film.
It is a snapshot of your acting abilities, experience, training and aspirations.
There are a few differences between the actors resume and more traditional workplace resumes.
The main difference is that a casting director (the person who will be employing you) or a talent agent, will expect to see a headshot on your resume.
On traditional resumes, photos are much less common (and often not advised). But on a resume for acting, a headshot is particularly important to have because the directors and producers will make their first selection based on whether you look the part.
Nevertheless, like a traditional resume, your acting resume should be around one page long.
To land that breakthrough role, use your actor’s resume to convey, through your previous roles, training and life experiences, how you would captivate an audience.
Your acting resume will be put under the spotlight. Make it ready by checking it contains the following:
Your headshot – Try to have several different headshots to choose from depending on the role, and drop the most appropriate one into your acting resume. Keep it professional, true to you and recent, because one of the biggest complaints casting directors have is that an actor looks nothing like their photo.
Physical description – On a traditional resume this would not be recommended, but an actor’s resume should mention your height and if you have any other distinguishing features, visible tattoos or scars, as these are either impossible or very difficult to change.
Name and contact details – Put these at the top. If you are an experienced actor with an agent, you will need to include both your and your agent's contact details.
Professional summary – This is a short overview of your acting abilities, other skills and experience. Every time you apply for a new role, you should revisit your actor’s resume summary to make sure it highlights how you are a perfect fit.
Your experience (acting credits) – Depending on your experience, this may be a long list. Therefore, if your experience pushes your resume over a page, only include those that are particularly relevant to the role you are applying for.
Specialist skills – You will want to make a clear list of these, starting with those that you will draw upon for the role in question. There is more on this below.
Training and acting workshops – Many acting skills involve specific training: for example, cold reading, improvisation, combat sequencing and musical skills. Include training relevant to the part in question on your resume and mention any relevant certifications or qualifications you have gained.
Memberships – You may be part of an actors’ union, such as the Screen Actors Guild, or belong to another professional body, such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. You should reference these on your acting resume as they can add legitimacy and indicate the standards you expect.
Awards and acting accolades – There is merit in including hard-earned awards on your acting resume, as it shows casting directors that others have already recognized your skills. If you have the logos, you may choose to visually represent your achievements.
Pique the interest of the casting director by referencing the unique acting skills you have, such as stuntwork or multiple languages.
Make a list of these before you start writing your acting resume so that you do not miss any out.
Sometimes, the best way to pull out the unique qualities you can bring to a role is to ask your fellow actors how they would describe you.
These skills could include:
- Languages and accents
- Stunt work and combat skills
- Fitness and strength levels
- Singing ability (including range)
- Dancing (including any formal training)
- Musical instruments you play
Generally speaking, no, only include acting jobs on your actor’s resume as other irrelevant jobs will take up valuable space.
However, there are some acting roles where it could be beneficial to include specific other experiences.
If a part requires specific skills, such as sailing a boat or horse riding, or technical language, such as business/trading or medical jargon, definitely including any experience you already have in that area.
Imagine how appealing it will be to the casting director if you have already had a job as a riding instructor or are a chartered yachtsperson.
It is worth spending the time and effort getting a professional photographer to take multiple headshots.
You need to stand out when applying for an acting role in a big market, and sticking the same generic photo on every application, no matter how good it is, will not get you noticed.
For example, if you are going for a thought-provoking intense role, you will want to appear as such within your headshot – perhaps something black-and-white where you look off-camera with a thoughtful expression.
If, however, the acting role is more comedic, you will want something lighter and less intense – perhaps a color photo where your personality shines through from the smile you direct at the camera.
A casting director will look at an actor’s resume for only seven seconds on average.
They will likely make a snapshot judgment based on your photograph and prominent skills in your summary paragraph (more on this below). And even if you pass this first impression, any difficulty in finding your name and contact details may have your acting resume rejected anyway.
Therefore, your stage name and contact details must be easy to find and read.
Include your agent's details as well. If you or your agent have a website, also put that here.
Include it at the top in an easy-to-read bold font such as Arial and double-check for any errors.
Your professional summary is one of the most important aspects of your actors resume to get right.
It almost does not matter how much experience you have if the casting director can see that you have made no effort.
A poorly written summary, or lack of one altogether, conveys a lack of passion and commitment that will turn away any decent director.
Below are two actor resume summary examples. Notice how the first is flat and bland. The reworded version gives the casting director much more of a reason to pick the phone up.
A poorly written acting resume summary:
Experienced actor looking for a big-ticket role. Appeared in a few plays before and starred alongside other experienced actors on and off-screen.
A well-written acting resume summary:
A Drama Desk award-winning actor highly experienced in stage and television work who has a diverse yet focused repertoire of acting credits. Highlights include: working with Jordan Peele on Get Out, and perfecting skills in motion capture in Attack the Block
To give your acting resume the best chance, arrange your acting credits into categories to make them easy to digest.
After all, many actors will have a wide range of on and off-stage experience.
Itemizing your experience will also allow you to rearrange it as needed.
For example, if you are applying for a part in a TV sitcom, you may wish to list your TV credits first, followed by relevant acting credits from other work, pruning any irrelevant parts until your actor’s resume fits on one page.
Remember to take off those that do not serve you well – perhaps a play that received bad reviews, especially if the acting was criticized, is one to consider dropping.
If you went to a dance, drama or musical theater college, definitely include this on your acting resume.
Casting directors like to see that you have a good foundation and understanding of the industry.
Likewise, if you have worked with any notable playwrights, producers or directors as part of your course, also note these.
If you are keen on landing a regular TV part, include any training you have had that is relevant to on-screen work.
Remember, training does not need to be formal. Certificates are good to list, but you may, for example, have spent several months under the watchful eye of a well-known director and this is just as important to list.
Such an experience could perhaps be listed as an internship.
Always revisit the skills section of your acting resume with every application you make to fit it to the role.
For example, if you are applying for a role on stage, you may wish to emphasize your ability to take direction, elevate your voice, learn lines or ad-lib.
If you have a Drama Desk, Drama League, Obie, Lucille Lortel or even a Golden Globe, that is fantastic. Definitely feature these on any acting resume.
However, do not forget smaller, less well-known awards. They are just as legitimate.
For example, you may have been awarded best actor by a prestigious director on a film or production.
You can also use this section to name-drop people you have worked with.
Perhaps Barry Jenkins highlighted you as the hardest working extra on Moonlight or Ryan Coogler awarded you 'Toughest Stunt Double' on Black Panther.
Awards are important to include as they show others have already appreciated and acknowledged specific sections of your skill set.
If you search for examples of actors' resumes, you will find that they vary somewhat. None of them are the same because acting is diverse.
However, if you follow these example steps, it will give you a template to base an acting resume on:
- Your headshot (usually on the right-hand side at the top)
- Professional/stage name
- Contact Details (as well as your height and possibly age or age-range)
- Agent details (if you have one)
- Professional summary
- Actors credits (your experience) – these can include school and college productions
- Specific acting skills and key competencies
- Acting workshops, formal and non-formal training
- Any awards and accolades
As a rule, it is best practice to make sure 1-6 appear in this order.
However, 7-9 can be switched around depending on personal preference and the role.
When listing the acting roles that you have held, it is best to have them sorted in relevant groups and keep to the following format:
The name of the production, acting role, company, director.
Consider this actor’s resume example:
Production ¦ Role ¦ Company ¦ Director
The Green Mile ¦ Paul Edgecomb ¦ Warner Bros. ¦ Frank Darabont
Lucky Guy ¦ Mike McAlary ¦ 101 Productions, Ltd. ¦ George C. Wolfe
Toy Story ¦ Woody ¦ Pixar Animation Studies ¦ Lee Unkrich
“I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen ¦ Tom ¦ Merman ¦ Peter Glanz
Title this acting skills section ‘Special Skills’ or ‘Technical Skills’ as this will automatically say to the casting director that these are the things you have specialist knowledge or abilities in.
Keep the descriptions short but enticing – perhaps one could be a conversation starter at the audition.
Consider the actor's resume example below:
Languages/dialects: Southern American English, British English, Spanish, French Canadian
Stage: musical theater singing and dancing, improvisation, cold reading, puppetry, stage combat
TV: experienced character depiction, perfecting lines to and away from the camera, voiceover work, medical terminology
Hopefully, by now you are armed with all the information you need to create the best acting resume.
There is a lot to take in, though, so here is a run-down of the hallmarks of a shining resume:
- Keep your resume to a single page in length
- Always include a headshot (try to make sure it is a professional one)
- Tailor your acting resume to the role you are applying for
- There is no need to include job responsibilities as these will be evident in the role you played
- Include correct contact information (and make sure that you regularly check your emails/phone)
- Briefly reference unchangeable physical characteristics such as height or visible tattoos/scares (hair and eye color can be easily changed, weight gained or lost)
- Keep to a consistent format (do not mix fonts, have all headings the same)
- If you have a lot of acting credits, list them by category, but if you only have a few, list them in date order from the most recent
- Pinpoint your special skills
- Name-drop any well-known directors or actors you have worked with
- Let your awards and accolades speak volumes about you
Without fail, you must keep to the truth, update your acting resume each time you land a new role and always check for typos or formatting errors before sending.
Creating an actor’s resume is a skill in itself. It requires stepping back and digging deep to identify all the key attributes and experiences that make you the ideal actor for the role.
Your acting resume should always be sent with a cover letter.
Between these two showstopping documents, there should be enough information to propel a director to reach out to you.
Remember – while perfecting your acting resume template will help you land a screening or audition, it is how you perform on the day that makes a difference.
Make sure you have plenty of sleep, are well-rehearsed and are ready to 'break a leg'.