This month in Auditioning – on the line! I light up the marquee and hopefully shed some light on a very important selling tool in an actor’s wallet – your show biz license – aka your resume!
This often misunderstood and overlooked piece of paper is just as an important piece of equipment in marketing yourself as your headshot – your calling card. Together they work hand in hand in representing all that you have to offer as an actor. It is the one tool that gives you the opportunity to showcase your credits, your vital contact information and say something about yourself with out ever singing a note or dancing a step.
Just like your pictures, your resume is the only tangible item left in possession with those casting and allows them to assess and get to know you better during and after an audition call. For this reason, attention to this document is very important to leave a lasting, honest and thorough “hard copy” example of your talents and abilities.
The most asked question I get with regard to one’s resume is — should I “pad it” or embellish credits to appear more accomplished and experienced. My answer would be: no. The industry is a small one, even in the international circles of the biz, and even the littlest “enhancement” is often caught and can lose one the job, no matter how innocent you think you are in displaying your experience.
I have come across resumes, where a show I directed or choreographed is listed and I very well know that this actor never appeared in that particular production — yet there, in black and white, is the credit listed. Imagine the embarrassment, when asked, “…so, who was the director and/or choreographer on that show” — and I am the one doing the asking?
I am sure many believe that if they sung a particular song, or perhaps showcased a scene from a play in a class, might give license to credit a show on one’s resume, but there is no justification in this. You are far better off listing real and truthful credits, than you are trying to fool anyone. We all have to start somewhere and even if it is – that you only played an “extra spear carrier” in your high school musical, and that is the only credit you have, then that should be considered a valued and important credit for your resume. There is no shame in this. In time, your credentials will expand with greater and more importance to you — and those behind the table.
Once you have established more legitimate credits and have more to say, then you indeed have license to tout it, and put it in print. Your resume is simply a tool to help those looking at you better assess and know who you are. It provides important connections to directors, theatres, producers, and those you have worked with. My creative colleagues and I often ask one another if we know or are familiar with an actor’s work auditioning for us. Note – we share our stories, the good, the bad and the ugly. Hiring someone is an investment, a tangible business investment, and only meeting an actor in a 3-4 minute audition is sometimes not enough time to really get the full picture on someone’s talents, abilities or working disciplines. Another reason to always be respectful and kind with everyone we work with along the way – bad experiences can often come back to haunt us in our lovely biz of show.
So, back to your resume —– the most important aspect of this tool is your contact information and basic stats. It is the “go to” doc to find out how to reach you and potentially hire and cast you. With that said, any phone numbers listed on your resume, should ideally be dedicated to your business dealings. Even if you are living with your parents, having your own number is the better way to go. It can be awkward for a casting agent to talk to one’s parents or room-mates in relaying casting information. Most people list their mobile/cell numbers these days as it is often the quickest and most efficient. Voice mail and phone services are alternate and inexpensive ways to acquire dedicated phone numbers to your acting and show biz career.
I do not recommend listing your home address, as you never know who’s hands your resume might end up in. Being smart and careful is something to keep in mind in our crazy world of show business.
Listing your agent as your main contact is recommended, but listing your own personal contact number, in addition, is wise in my opinion – sometimes a message needs to get to you after an agent’s office hours.
Height, weight, hair and eye color, vocal range and union affiliations at the top are all good bits of information to be listed along side your name and contact info. This header of information I consider the most important part of one’s resume.
Follow this header by your most recent and high profile “Credits”, and no matter how few, make sure they are accurate, genuine and verifiable. Your credits are customarily followed by “Education and/or Training” and finally followed by “Special Skills” or abilities.
A slight pet peeve of mine is that it is important that all information (ie. roles played, theatre, show titles, etc) are listed neatly and formatted in an easy to read and lined up fashion. There is no time to decipher an unorganized and scattered resume.
Another recommendation is to not over indulge with a long and overstated resume. No need to list a role you have played 5 or 6 times at different theatres. Pick the one theatre that carries the most weight and present accordingly. Resumes are also designed to warrant questions from casting folk, so if asked, you can always state, that in addition to the one theatre you listed on your resume, you have played that particular role, many times, at x, y and z theatres.
Resume best practice
My Best Advice is: Make is simple, make it concise, make it truthful, and above all, create this tool as if it is indeed your driver’s license. You don’t want to be pulled over with an out of date or false license — your resume is the one thing that identifies your worth, skills, experience and knowledge and validates your career all on one little sheet of paper. The resume is a representation of who you are on so many levels and should reflect your identity with pride, professional courtesy and truth. Follow these simple tidbits and you are one step closer to a more successful auditioning – on the line! experience!
Coming next month: