Whip Your Acting Resume Into Shape
Updated: May 17
"Your resume isn't a list of everything you have ever done, its a recipe of how to cast you next"
Like many of your actor marketing tools ...your headshot, website, your reel... your resume is a living breathing document. And should showcase what you do well. The stories you were born to tell, and the kind of storyteller you are. As a living document, it will shift as you build credits. And it will have various incarnations and variations depending on the sort of project you are submitting.
When it comes to our WHY behind the WHAT, our best resource is over at Bonnie Gillespie's article on Resume Feng Shui. Bonnie Gillespie is best known for her work in the industry as a Casting Director, contributing writer for Backstage, and for her educational, actor-driven curriculum and book: Self Management for Actors (which you guessed it, is on our BFT recommended reading list). This article is the best resource we can recommend to get you started on how to level-up your resume. Bonnie also spells out the steps to keep adjusting your resume to reflect your highest tier of work, and keep to industry standards for billing. She covers how to properly list your credits, what to remove from your resume, and how to lean into the white space on your resume to highlight what you do BEST.
When it comes to format, we also wanted to leave you with a few resources.
*2 Resume Templates *Our Quick Tips on formatting your resume
*Our Quick Tips on Content
Quick Tips on Formatting:
- Your Resume should be in 3 columns
-The best way to get those columns to align is by inserting a 3 column chart. Here's how:
Once you are done populating each square, right click, and select 'borders and shading.' Then click to 'hide' all borders. (If you need to add a new row, you can always 'unhide' and insert a row below, and then re-hide them.)
-ALWAYS save your Resume as a PDF (it is the only way to guarantee that your formatting/ fonts will translate
-Always label your resume as FIRSTname LASTname Resume.pdf
-If you are submitting for a FILM project lead with that first (and visa versa if you are submitting for Theatre)
-If you have webseries experience, list that under NEW MEDIA
-If you have TV credits, you can get rid of your NEW MEDIA section
Quick Tips on Content:
-If you are in the union list SAG-AFTRA (not SAG, not SAG-E, list the FULL acronym). If you are not in the union, don't list 'non-union;' just leave it off.
-Leave your birthday off (unless you are under 18)
-If you are over 18 but tend to play high school roles, list 18TPY
-Remove all Background/ stand-in, and Music Video work
-Remove all Commercials; keep the header and just say: "Commercial: Conflicts available upon request"
-Remove Voiceover, Modeling, and Industrials. (If you've got the burning desire to mention these, in your Special Skills section say "Print/ Modeling resume available upon request"
-Only list special skills if you are proficient at them, and you are prepared to perform them at the audition
-For Film: List Billing (lead/ supporting)
-For TV: list billing (co-star/ guest star/ recurring/ series regular)
-For Theatre: list the character name
-For Training: Focus on full classes (avoid listing one-day workshops or online classes where you did not get to participate actively and get feedback/review)
-List your email & phone number (and website/ reel if you have one) (if you are a minor list your parent's contact info)
Now, what's next you say? Getting that resume to look and feel like YOU as a storyteller. How do we find fonts and colors that match your aesthetic and fit your brand? How do we make sure what credits to keep vs to cut? That requires a longer conversation (and more blogs to follow). But if in a pinch, you need some help, we got you.
Clare Lopez is an Actress and Director of Education and Outreach at Book From Tape Acting Studios in Orlando, FL. She is deeply passionate about supporting fellow actors in their craft, and loves using storytelling to educate, elevate, and empower others. Email Clare