Acting Resume for Beginners
by Alli Dansby
Perhaps you’ve gone to an arts academy or studied at a university’s theater department. Or maybe, like so many of us, you found yourself eating popcorn and watching a classic movie on a Friday night. As you found yourself swept away by the glamor, breathtaking emotional moments, and complete thrallment of the screen - you may have found your mind wandering to, “hey. I could do this!” Next you might find yourself practicing that Meryl Streep monologue in the shower, but, let’s stop here for a second before the shampoo bottle becomes your first Emmy. You’ve decided you want to become an actor, but where do you begin? Of course, looking into acting classes, finding fellow actors to network with, and studying the best films are a great place to start. But what about an actor’s resume? How do you land a job in the entertainment field? You need an acting resume. Starting off in the industry can seem a bit daunting, or scary. What on earth do you put on a resume in a field you just started in?
“No role is too small, only small actors.” Include every role that you’ve had to this point. That school play from years ago? Any community theater? Perhaps an extra role you did that one time? Nothing is too small to begin, and it shows that you’ve been getting your feet wet. Auditors will know that everyone has to start somewhere. If you’ve never had any experience in acting at this stage, get out there and find a way to jump in. Virtually any city is going to have a local theater, or multiple. Audition for plays, and be adventurous. Even that background role is still experience, an opportunity, and a great chance to learn more about the craft - particularly from watching other actors and talking to them.
Look for student films. A fantastic way to start working into the film industry is by auditioning for student films, indie films, and extra work.
There are many websites that can help you find legitimate casting calls, in which little to no experience is needed. www.actorsaccess.com is a website in which you can submit yourself to many different roles, from bigger projects to local student films. www.projectcasting.com has a daily email with a breakdown of casting calls near you.
There are also Facebook groups you can join that share listings by searching for groups in your area. You can also follow the Facebook or Instagram pages for any theater or film departments near you to catch word of casting calls or film projects.
I’ve gotten some experience - now what? After you’ve dipped your toes into the acting pool, it's time to start crafting your acting resume.
Casting directors get hundreds, or even thousands of submissions, so it's important that your resume is clear, concise, and visually appealing.
The most important ingredients of the resume are your headshot, resume, and reel. A reel is a collection of clips from the work you’ve done - so if you’ve been getting any extra work or student film work, you can make a short video out of those clips to accompany your resume. But that’s a story for another time.
Your resume should have four sections - personal information, acting credits, education and relevant training, and your special skills.
Your personal information should include:
● Your name
● Phone number
● Email address
● Website (it's fine if you don’t have one!)
● Agent/managers information, if you have one
● Hair color
● Eye color
● Vocal range and type, if you sing.
You should also include your headshot, next to your personal information. (See photo).
The more casting directors see your face, the better!
Including a headshot here can also help to fill out some space, if you’re still working on
building those credits up.
Next, you’re going to want to add your credits. It should be as follows:
● The name of the show or film should be in the far left column
● The title of your role in the center
● The name of the director, theater company, or film in the far right.
You can break this into sections, such as “theater” and “film” if you prefer.
Put your credits in chronological order, but put the “most impressive” roles at the top of
Relevant training and education
If you have any training that may relate to acting, or to the role you’re auditioning for,
this is where it goes.
You can include:
● The place in which you studied
● Teachers/program directors
● Length of time you studied
● Type of training
Remember that stilt walking class that you took? Any acting workshops or courses?
Here is where they should live.
Here is where you put your special skills. You can include anything that you feel is
relevant. Some examples include:
● Dancing capabilities
● Special abilities (if you can sing, for example)
● Any instruments that you play
● Fitness ability
● Stage combat training
● Sports experience
● If you have a driver’s license (some people can’t/don’t drive, so this can be
● Acrobatic skills (juggling, backflips, etc)
Really, special skills is your place to shine. You can include anything under the sun
that’s special to you. A casting director can benefit from knowing the little things you’re
good at, even if they might seem odd — you never know when that could be the thing
that sets you apart!
Notes on structure
You’ll want to make sure your resume is clean, clear, and concise, so you’ll want to
make sure it includes the following:
● ALWAYS in PDF format (do NOT send it via Word)
● Use an easy to read font
● Make sure each heading is clear, such as a bigger font or bolded
● Only use white and black colors
● It must be only one page when it's printed, and fit to the back of your headshot
(8” by 10”).
- Line it up neatly and staple the four corners together, when submitting resumes
physically. (This is irrelevant if the resume is being submitted digitally)
Don’t forget to have fun with it. This resume reflects you as a person, to people who
may have never met you before. Unlike your classic business resume, an actor’s
resume is telling the story of who you are, what you’ve accomplished so far in your
entertainment career, and why you might be the best fit for the role you’re auditioning
While it needs to look clean and professional, it still can have that sparkle only you can
Updating your resume
As you work on your resume, submit it to
casting directors, and hopefully book more
roles, you’ll need to keep your resume
updated. Don’t print off more than you need
per audition, because the goal is for it to
Each time you land a role, return to your
resume and update it with the new
Ideally, as you work towards your career in the industry, you’ll be learning new skills all
the time, attending workshops or seminars, and always working on your craft. Whether
it's a Skill Share course or a multiple week acting course, record it all neatly on your
resume. It's all relevant, not only to your acting ability, but your dedication to the field
and bettering yourself. These things don’t go unnoticed.
And on that note, head out onto the stage or set, then open up your word processor and
begin the magic!