When you work in a field as niche as acting, you may be wondering where to start when it comes to writing a resume that lands you the role you've always dreamed of. You may even be asking yourself "Do actors need a resume?"
The answer is an enthusiastic Yes!, although a resume for an actor will look a bit different from any traditional resume you've seen. Luckily, Resume.io is here to help. We've created 300+ resume examples for every field and stage of your career. This guide, along with our actor resume sample, will show you how to:
- Recognize the key differences between actor resumes and other resume samples
- Choose the right format for an actor resume
- Create a summary that captures your key roles and qualities
- Format your resume to stand out among the hundreds of applications casting directors receive
In 2019, there were about 70,000 positions as actors in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field is projected to grow by 3 percent over the coming decade – about average for all occupations. While local theaters suffering from budget cuts may have to reduce the number of actors hired, the rise of on-demand streaming has created a need for new content and actors to fill those roles.
What does an actor do?
Actors work to portray different characters with the use of movement, language, and emotion. Actors may work for one single performance company, or more typically, take on roles with many different employers. Actors study assigned characters, and do their best to accurately portray them in a performance. They attend rehearsals, memorize lines, and collaborate with other acting professionals to make performances possible. Actors utilize acting techniques and a variety of special skills. An ideal candidate has professional training in one or more acting methods, and brings forth professional experience working as an actor.
How to write an actor resume
Here's the typical format you've probably seen on many a resume sample:
- The resume header
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
While your actor resume will need to contain many of the same sections, you'll likely want to call the "employment history" section something like "credits." That's because your credits are essential to showing a casting director why you're the right fit for them. These common section titles also help the casting director find specific information they are looking for.
An actor resume should clearly demonstrate a candidate’s ability to portray different characters in performances. Your resume should call attention to your understanding of different acting methodologies and techniques, as well as your experience taking on different roles. Your resume should also highlight your ability to work well and collaborate with others, as this is a large part of acting. Creating an impressive skill section is an important part of creating a winning actor resume. Including impressive skills like strong communication skills, speaking in dialects, and any specific acting techniques you utilize such as Meisner technique. As an actor you want to stand out and show an employer why your special skills will benefit a potential acting role. You should also highlight your ability to memorize lines and be punctual and reliable.
Choosing the best resume format for actors
Actors with any credits at all should consider the standard resume format that includes a "credits" section. List your previous roles in reverse chronological order if you prefer, but never include the dates you worked on them. This is the industry standard for actors even if it's not typical advice for other types of resume samples.
Customization is key when creating an actor resume sample because it allows you to prove your interest in the role and show how much related experience you have. If you've worked in multiple types of performances (i.e. television, movies, theater...), you'll want to group your roles by these categories. When you have enough experience in one particular category, you may even want to create a separate resume just for that.
Resume summary example
Your resume summary should give the casting director a well-rounded impression of who you are, your most impressive accomplishments and your strengths without being weighed down by all the details. The summary should encourage the casting director to read the rest of your resume to hear more about your credits. You may also want to mention any special skills or education in your summary, especially if it's highly relevant to the role. Make sure to use action verbs and exciting language to show your passion for acting. Numbers and specific details can also help your summary stand out in the casting director's mind. See the summary from our actor resume example below.
Passionate, experienced, and formally trained actor. Bringing forth enthusiasm, a strong work ethic, and an unrelenting desire to entertain. Committed to fostering strong relationships with fellow actors, conducive to creating magical performances. Experienced in the Meisner technique, different dialects, and utilizing an assortment of special skills to effectively portray different characters.
If you're a union member, be sure to put the abbreviations like SAG-AFTRA or Equity/AEA in your summary so that the casting member is aware from the start.
Employment history sample
While the employment history section is a standard feature of many other resume samples, actors will want to call this section "Credits." Here is where you'll list all previous roles, often divided into categories like "Theater" or "Film." Make sure to include the production name, role name and the location performed (year is optional.) You can choose to list your roles in reverse chronological order with the most recent first, or you can move up credits that were most relevant to the position you're looking for in order to ensure that the casting director sees your related experience right away. You can list your acting roles, without job descriptions, as typically actors take on various roles in a short period of time. Focus on being neat and orderly. Here's the employment history or "credits" section from our resume example.
- Stage Actor at Willmington Playhouse (2018)
- Voice Over Actor at Jetcon Studios (2015)
- Extra Actor at Feature Film, The Great Inspiration (2015)
- Stage Actor at The Ivoryton Playhouse (2012)
Actor resume education example
While most actors enter the field without completing a formal degree, workshops, courses or degrees-in-progress can go a long way to prove your dedication to the field. This section can also be used to show a casting director who you may have trained with. Make sure to highlight any reputable schools or programs here as well as in your summary. Any honors or distinctions, guild or union memberships should be noted here as well. If you hold a degree higher than a bachelors degree, you may leave out your high school. Degrees in progress can also be mentioned along with their anticipated graduation dates and your GPA if higher than a 3.0. See the education section from our actor resume example below.
- 2004-2008 SUNY Purchase, Bachelor of Drama Studies Purchase, NY
- 2005 Alvin Alley American Dance Theater, Ballroom Dancing NY, NY
- 1997-2001 Hartsdale High School, High School Diploma Hartsdale, NY
CV skills example
The skills section is a great place to communicate your strengths due to its blunt, bullet-point nature. It's a good idea to read the job description and take note of any special abilities needed for the role. A kung-fu action movie? Don't forget to mention your combat skills. A ballet set in space will need you to highlight a knowledge of dance. If you have other relevant experience that might be of interest to the casting manager, such as work as a screenwriter or stage manager , you can briefly mention it here. See the skills section from our actor resume example below.
- Voice Trained
- Stage Combat Skills
- Stanislavski’s Acting Method
- Excellent Communication Skills
- Modern Dance
- Collaboration Skills
Resume layout and design
As an actor, you know presentation is important – in fact it's your whole job! It comes as no surprise, then, that the layout and design of your resume format say a lot about the type of actor you are. While many actors make the mistake of thinking flashier is better, a few well-placed design elements can help a casting director take note of your resume without coming across as eccentric or unprofessional.
If you're looking for help getting spicing up your resume layout, check out our collection of creative resume templates which give you a jumping off point by allowing you to customize the style to your needs.
- Create an attractive header that highlights your name and contact information so the casting manager can schedule a callback
- Include your professional headshot and reel when sending your resume
- Keep a balance of white space to text to avoid overloading the reader with information.
- Include roles that are more than 10 years old or that you performed as a child, except in special circumstances.
- Create a resume longer than one page.
- Go overboard with color or flashy design elements.
Key takeaways for an actor resume
- Actors need resumes just like any other professionals, however the structure of their resumes can change depending on their experience and the role.
- Your "credits" section will be at the heart of your resume so take care to organize it properly and include only the most essential information.
- Make sure to include your union affiliation (if you have one) along with any prestigious schools or programs you've attended in your summary.
- Tailor your skills section to the exact needs of the performance and highlight any transferrable skills if necessary.
- Create an eye-catching layout that's professional yet simple to increase your chances of standing out in this crowded industry.