Acting Resume Myths & Traps

When (and how!) does a Casting Director read a resume?

I am a Casting Director. I seldom digest the information contained on your resume. I mean to say, if you are with a good agent, and an experienced actor, I can quite literally skim the page and get all the information I need.

Key things stand out – major productions (stage or screen), high profile directors and producers. If you have a body of work, I do not need to look at the details contained in your resume.

So a resume for an experienced actor is required, sure. But a resume for a starting out actor is SOOOOO important. It is what sets you apart from all the other starting out actors.

So the key impact a resume has for an actor is when the Casting Director does not know you. So yes, perhaps you need different resumes for different approaches.

Let me shatter a few urban actor resume myths. They must be avoided!

1. Myth 1: Your resume tells everything about you. (Please don’t. I don’t need to know).

You must keep it brief. Think of the digital age. When do you ever sit and read an article for all the facts in the document? You don’t. You look for the information you need.

Same with me when I read your resume.

Highlight the significant moments, the skills you excel in, the sports you achieved champion or rep status.

There are events and skills in your life that are unique to you. They help create the individual that is you. And that individuality is what sticks with me.

What I remember about you.

That is the job of your resume. To leave a memory, not just provide information.

2. Myth 2: Your training is important. Make that stand out.

Nope!

Again, is it an important piece of information for me? Do I need to know you did tap and jazz for four years while you were a teenager? It is just not important. If you put all that information there, I am missing other facts that may be useful when I am casting.

Of course, if you studied at Julliard, or Stella Adler, or NIDA or other highly respected schools, then include it. Brag about the ones that will be noticed by the Casting Director. But don’t put in ALL your training, as the good bits may be buried under a mountain of information.

3. Myth 3: Don’t put any non acting work on there. Only performance work.

I understand the thinking behind this. But is this true of hugely experienced actors? If so, their resume will be pages long.

And does it apply to starting out actors? Actors with limited experience.

They must be different.

If you have a great body of performance work, then sure, only have acting work. But then I would know you wouldn’t I?

If you are trying to be noticed and remembered, and you are trying to get a break, perhaps that break will come because you have been a waiter and can do silver service. If I need a day player for a classy restaurant waiter, competent silver service will win you the audition. Or perhaps your cocktail making skills are perfect for the guy behind the upmarket bar.

For example, if you have been a nurse for several years, you will know how to take a temperature, insert an IV drip, administer a needle. You have a set of skills that cannot be acted. They come naturally. Because if I am casting a role that is in a hospital, then nursing skills are just as important to actor training.

4. Myth 4: Put every credit on your resume.

Your acting history is your actor career journey. The pathway your work is following. If your resume has lots of community theatre, with little known companies, perhaps with credits that are not well known, of obscure plays, then most likely, that is how I will regard you. How I will come to consider you.

Hey, this is the way of the world. We assess people in a small number of clear definitions. That is how you regard restaurants or hairdressers etc etc. You have a clear opinion that can be summed up in very few words.

In all our teachings here, I urge you to see things from the Casting Director’s view point.

Where do you fit into their journey? The Casting Director’s journey. What are they looking for? What inspires them?

You tell friends and family about your acting successes and they are excited for you. They share your joy.

The relationship with a Casting Director – and even your agent – is different. They are business minded, pragmatic, and hopefully, professional. Therefore your resume needs to deliver the work history of a focused professional. Not a starry eyed dreamer.

Keep it short and concise. One page maximum

Think of it like this. After you have a meeting, you will recall one or two key facts, memorable points from the meeting. Perhaps the people at the meeting – especially if it is the first time they have met.

You think therefore you have to deliver one or two key things that you want them to know.

Nope (again that nope word!)

Sit in their seat. What will they remember? What has left an impact?

Do not be surprised if the lasting memory was that you grew up on a farm and can crutch a sheep in record time.

Note: I have never met anyone who can crutch a sheep, so I will remember you if you have that skill!

Don’t make your resume conform to what everyone else is doing.

Because if you do, then you are a sheep – following blindly along with everyone else.