What to Put On and What to Leave Off as an Actor/Actress
Organizing your resume can be daunting, but for actors new to the Biz, or those coming back after a substantial break, there are two distinct issues to be dealt with.
The “newbie” must decide what information to put on the resume that seems appropriate, while the returning veteran must pick and choose what’s still relevant.
In each case, there’s sure to be some tough choices, so you need to have a yardstick to by.
One approach is to use this as your main guideline, “A great resume not only tells the reader what you’ve done, but what your type is and where you’re going with your career.”
Paralysis Through Analysis
Here are some conundrums that actors in these two categories run into.
- “All I’ve been doing is amateur/college theater and since it’s not professional work. I guess I shouldn’t put it on my resume.”
- “I only have a degree in (Biology, Law, Business, etc.), so I guess I shouldn’t put that on my resume.”
- “I don’t have a degree at all but I’ve trained with acting teachers from this area. But soon I’m going to be auditioning in NYC. Since they won’t know them. I guess I shouldn’t put them on my resume.”
- “I haven’t been acting for (10, 15, 20, etc.) years and all of my credits are old, so…”
Based on years of experience, loads of mistakes and invaluable advice from older actors, here are some answers to these issues.
“My credits aren’t professional!”
Since you’re just starting, they’re expecting to see these kinds of credits. Just prioritize them correctly.
But if you’re too young to play a particular role again, then leave it off. They’re going to want a 60 year old man to play “Grandpa”, not a 20-something.
“My educational background is in another field!”
The fact that you’ve been to college and/or graduate school tells them you’re educated. Also, you never know when your degree could come in handy.
If they’re looking for someone to play a lawyer and you have a degree in law, you could come across as more convincing in the part because of your background and experience.
“No one will know my teachers!”
Training shows your commitment to becoming a better actor. The fact that you have been taking classes is always a plus.
“Are my credits still relevant?”
The only time a credit is no longer usable, is when you become too old to play the part again.
You may have played Romeo when you were 20, but you’re 40 now and while it was a great credit then, it’s not applicable now.
The only caveat to this would be if you performed a role in a well-known production or received some kind of award for your work in it.
Don’t list “Representative Roles”
This is a selection of parts the actor has worked on in class or thinks they would be right for.
In either case they are useless because they haven’t been played in performance. They’re just filler and should be left off.
Do list your awards
Be sure to put them right under the corresponding project. Also, consider listing any awards you received at graduation or if you were recognized as being a high achiever, even if it was in another profession.
Don’t list too many classes or instructors
Beware! You can go overboard on this. Also, if you’ve taken a particular class with multiple instructors, just choose one or two for each category
Do make sure to do the “three-foot test”
When you’ve finally finished creating the resume, print out a copy. Now, hold it at arm’s length; that’s three feet away, more or less. Can you read all the text easily?
If you can’t, then it’s too full and needs another round of editing.
Remember, a resume should be a reflection of who you are, where you have been and where you would like to go.