Acting Tip: Acting Resumes, Cover Letters, and Headshots, OMG!
If you really want to stand out as an actor (and I think you do), you’re going to have to make your resume stand out for you.
Your resume, cover letter, and headshot are really the first impressions you’ll have. They act as your agent: the good guys get you auditions, the bad guys don’t…
So how does one stand out from the rest of the crowd? Well, first of all, you have to think like a salesperson. What makes you interesting and unique as an actor? This is your USP (Unique Selling Point). Your resume and cover letter act as your USP…
To make your resume and cover letters truly effective, you need to follow a few simple guidelines:
For your resume, divide the page into two parts: one part for your actual resume, one part for testimonials (yes, testimonials!). Testimonials must be from former directors, playwrights, etc. and they shouldn’t be hard to come by. Just ask! (but be sure to get their permission to use their testimonial on your resume) Include the person’s name and position under each testimonial quote.
If you’re just starting out, put EVERYTHING related to acting on your resume, make a list of all the acting jobs you’ve ever had, no matter how small or big the part (yes, even the non-speaking parts!) . Remember, you are trying to fill out your resume – list as much as you can. As time goes by, weed out the less glamorous acting parts and replace them with the real gems that highlight your best work.
Include a small thumbnail photo of yourself on your resume. This will ensure that if your headshot and resume ever get separated, your photo will remain intact forever on your resume.
Actors have little time to spend marketing themselves, let alone anything else unrelated to acting. For this reason, you should have two form letters ready to go at all times: one for theater and one for film/TV. Keep it short and sweet. Your letter should include a brief introduction, your purpose for writing, your recent efforts, and a friendly closing. For example, my cover letter says: I am writing to you today because I am very interested in auditioning for your play (or ‘film’ or ‘project’, depending on what you are applying for). I know your time is valuable, so I’ll be brief: I would really appreciate it if you would take a moment to review my headshot and resume, and let me know if you’d like to meet with me. Again, your letter should include your most recent or current job (try to include pictures within the body of the letter), what classes you are taking, etc. Then close with something short and sweet like: Thank you for your time and consideration. I would love to meet with you. You can contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I hope to hear from you soon. And then sign it with your name.
When emailing a headshot and resume, use the same cover letter you use for regular emails: just cut and paste it into the text portion of your email (remember, you’re trying to save time! so make it easy for yourself!). Don’t forget to attach your face photo and make sure to size your face photo accordingly.
Headshots should look like you do now. If your headshot doesn’t look like how you look now, take a new one…
You don’t have to spend a lot of change at a reputable photographer, big deal, bells and whistles to get a good head shot. Just look around and find someone who has a pretty good portfolio and low prices. I had my headshot taken by a photographer who was just starting out. I got a lot in my photos and she used my images in her portfolio. A win-win situation!
Get an 8″ x 10″ black and white headshot (which is standard).
I recommend keeping it simple: your clothes, jewelry, etc. You want YOU (not your clothing and accessories) to stand out.
That concludes our section on resumes, cover letters, and headshots. I hope this section has inspired you to make your HS/resume kit brilliant!