Are you a thespian? If so, you may feel like the typical résumé advice just doesn’t apply to you. And you’d be right – it doesn’t. Acting résumés break just about every rule there is for business résumés. Here are some tips tailored just for thespians.
Start with the basics
A thespian résumé starts out like any other résumé: name, address, contact information, etc. If you have an agent, you can list your agent’s contact information instead of (or in addition to) your own. Many actors also include their union affiliation.
Give directors what they want: your vital statistics
Including your vital statistics in your résumé would be a huge faux pas in the business world. When it comes to acting, however, those facts are actually relevant to the job at hand. So go ahead and list the basics – height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc. – right under your name. A director wants to be able to envision you in the role.
Include a professional headshot
Even if you’ve listed your physical characteristics on your résumé, include a color headshot. And this isn’t the time to rely on a selfie; it’s really important to spring for a professional headshot.
Forget about chronological order
In a typical résumé, you start with your most recent job and work your way back. But that’s not what directors want to see. They want to know what kind of acting you’ve done and how big those roles were. So, start by separating your acting roles into categories: television, film, theatre, commercials, etc. (Feel free to rearrange the order based on the kind of role you’re applying for.) Next, within each category, list your roles from most important to least important.
List your formal training
In this section, let the director know what training you’ve had, whether it’s a college degree in theatre or a course at an acting school. If you attended an acting school, make sure you include the name of the teacher, especially if he or she is highly respected. The thespian community is pretty small, so there’s a good chance the director might know your teacher.
Describe any special skills or abilities
This is where you get to talk about any extra value you could bring to the role. Whether it’s singing, dancing, speaking another language or juggling knives, go ahead and brag about it. Include specifics when they’re relevant, like your vocal range if you’re a singer or the type of dancing you do. Don’t lie, though. Remember the episode of Friends where Joey lied about his dancing ability? It didn’t turn out so well.
Include your awards
If you’ve received any awards for your acting, list them here. Don’t be shy, but don’t go crazy, either. The director won’t care that you won “best snowflake” in your kindergarten’s Christmas pageant.
If you’re writing a résumé for a thespian, throw out everything you’ve always been taught about how to write a good one, because business rules don’t apply here. The world of acting has its own culture and norms, and your résumé is how you show you belong.