Forum: Arts / Acting

ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed! (karma: 14)
By hippyjazzdancer
On Sat Apr 16, 2005 10:50 AM
Edited by hippyjazzdancer (123649) on 2005-04-16 10:38:23 Markup Codes :)
Edited by hippyjazzdancer (123649) on 2005-04-16 10:39:45 Hopefully it looks nice this time! :P
Made sticky by MIClogger (28613) on 2005-04-16 23:58:49

I decided to write this because, although I love dancing, acting is my area of expertise. I have been acting for a few years now and am going to be pursuing acting as a career.
I love to share any information I get to help others pursue the same dreams I have. I know how difficult it can be to get auditions so I decided to write about some great tips I have gathered about making your resume as well as your headshot and cover letter! I hope I can share all of this information with any other inspiring actors and actresses like myself! Good luck!! -Dana (hippyjazzdancer)

First of all:


1. Typed large enough to be easily read at a glance, without a magnifying glass.

2. Printed dark enough so that the reader doesn't need a flashlight.

3. Obvious rows and columns and subdivisions all lined up like West Point Grads on review.

4. Stapled neatly to the picture. Have the staples parallel to the top and bottom edges. If your headshot has a border with lines try to staple on the lines. Watch out that you do not staple through the contact information. (Yes, it may sound obsessive but this is a profession of "images," which includes the image of your neat, super sparkling resume. The appearance of your resume sends a subliminal message about your pride in presenting yourself as a professional. And that includes how you staple a resume to a picture.)

5. Trimmed so that not a speck of the resume edge shows past the picture. There have been notices on the Breakdown from casting directors, requesting neatly-trimmed resumes.

6. You don't have to use good stationary for cover letters, however, just make sure that the paper is not smudged or dirty or wrinkled. (I don't expect any of you would have a dirty or smudged resume, though! lol)

7. If you are computer savvy, keep your resume on your computer and update it with every new project you book!

8. Some actors have two resumes: one with theatre listed first, the other with film and TV listed first. If you are self-submitting, use the resume that matches the project. Another variation is to list first the area in which you have the most credits. If you have 10 film credits and three theatre, then list the film credits first.

9. THERE IS NO NEED TO LIST THINGS CHRONOLOGICALLY! List your most impressive credit first. Example:
Two words on a Warner Bros. feature film are more impressive than the lead in a graduate film -- unless, of course, the grad film wins some huge major award! So list Warner Bros. before indies, indies before grad films.

10. If you have out-of-town credits, list the town unless the theatre is very well known.

11. If the director is known, then indeed include his/her name. Same goes for theatre company. Omit the venue unless it is more important than the company or the director.

12. In film, be sure to list the category: Featured, Supporting, Co-lead. This info goes in the center column. Do not try to sneak in extra work and make it look like featured roles. If you have been an extra in umpteen films, if you want, you can mention at the end of your FILM section something like this:

Extra / Featured Extra in 12 films, including _______ and _______ (the names of two really major films).

13. Do not bombard your resume with the names of everyone you have studied with, unless that teacher is nationally recognized. The larger the training section, the more you look like a student. Your aim is to look like a professional! :P

14. Under the heading EDUCATION/TRAINING, list your college diploma/s like this:

MA Theatre Cornell Univ.
BA Theatre Arts Univ. of Texas, Austin.

Be sure to include any awards, honors, recognitions from your college or from competitions.

15. In your MISC INFORMATION section, use common sense about the skills you include. Think in terms of what will help get an audition. Yes to listing all sports/martial arts/stage combat. If you are world class, include that! If you are an actor who was an Olympic contender in Gymnastics from Moscow, for example, then a huge YES to that bit of information.

-If you speak a foreign language that is always a plus. List that first under MISC. INFO.

-Never include anything unless it is true. It is misleading to put "tap" under the dance ability category if you studied tap 10 years ago when you were 7. List your musical instruments with the number of years studied in parentheses like this: Piano (14 years, classical / jazz).

16. PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT: Do not fib about ANYTHING in any category. Someone will always know. If you had three callbacks for a studio film before getting cut, then if you like note that in your misc section. But don't try to claim that you did the role.

17. Do not use the phrase "List upon request." It's a signal that there are no credits. Neglect mentioning commercials if you have done none. It you have done three, list each one. If you have done 20 then list it thus: 20 commercials, including national principal for Palmolive, BMW and Dell.

18. Font Style: (Fonts? Yes, fonts. Even fonts carry subliminal messages!) I do believe every computer in the universe is programmed to Times New Roman font. I know there have been studies about the formation of their letters leading the eyes along the row. Yes, yes, yes, BUT! It is a font done to death! Many resumes these days have been using the font ARIAL. Why? "The letters march along the lines like little British Palace guards, precise, clean, confident." -Chad Gracia (producer, casting director)
Whatever font you select do not go for cute or fancy or curly.

19. Font Size: Your name -- centered on the top line -- at least 18 point bold. Preferably 24 if you have space. The subdivisions -- THEATRE (if lengthy, then divide into NYC and Regional or whatever is accurate), FILM/TV, EDUCATION/TRAINING, MISC. INFO -- should be a larger font size than the specific project information.

Therefore if your project info is 10 pt. then have the subdivisions in 12 or 14 pt. bold, all caps. No need to underline the subdivisions. That's overkill if you use the larger, bold caps.

20. Heading: Name centered (see 19 above). Immediately under your name, put your unions in smaller bold caps. To the far right on the line under the unions put the vitals like this:

5'10", 145 lbs.
Brown hair, Blue eyes
Tenor (musicals).Move well

On the far left of the resume, opposite the vitals, put your cell phone. Under the phone, put your web site address and your e-mail address (if you wish). Do NOT include home telephone, home address, or social security. If you include body measurements, casting people assume you come from modeling or print. If you have
representation, this is the place to cite it. Check with your agent or manager for their preference of presentation.


(This is for the resume itself, the part that lists your credits.)
Use a table for straight lines and columns.

Name of play, film, TV program

Role (Most casting directors really prefer a description of the character rather than "Jim" or "Susy" unless the role is very well known. For example Jane (nurse) or Nurse (featured). However, Hamlet or Miss Prism hardly need further description. :P

If film: Studio, or Production Company, or Director--whichever is best known.

If stage: Theatre Co., Director, town (if out-of-town).

Here is the place to add if there were a name star attached to the production.

A Very Nice Example: ABC TV (scene w/ XYX) XYX was, of course, a nationally recognized name.
This is also the column to include Denver Shoot, or London Shoot, or whatever non-local shoot.
This tidbit shows some film company liked your work enough to pay your transportation to distant realms.

Most prefered is EDUCATION/TRAINING, followed by MISC. INFO.

There are facts which cannot be included in any of
the above categories. It is just fine to put that
information directly under the contact and vital statistics.
For example, the following was used successfully on a resume:

NOTE: I was a professional musician for 20 years. For details see body of resume.
NOTE: Won Israeli Oscar. See Film section of resume.

Is this unusual? Yes. Will it throw a Casting Director into a tailspin of revulsion? No! :)

It would be nice if this resume format was around 15 years ago. Resumes have evolved over the years and you want to keep up! It is very impressive and shows your professionalism. It shows your serious about acting and that is what will get you your jobs! I hope this info was clear to you all. I am really grateful for it and I hope you all are too! If you need anymore help with resumes, just leave me a message on here!

And now, a quick review of:


What makes a good headshot? That is IMPOSSIBLE to answer.
However, here are some general suggestions.

1. Like the envelope and the letter, the headshot must look professional. Always 8x10". I prefer a matte finish. NY still opts for a decent sized white border with your name printed in the bottom border. No fancy fonts here either. Even the print style you
select says something about you. Neither the border nor the printed name should draw attention away from your face! The aim of a headshot is to have your face grab their attention.

2. What should the picture look like? YOU!!!

Women: Please do not try to look like the next Miss U.S.A. "Ordinary" is very much in these days. A pretty woman trying to look glamorous has fewer chances/fewer roles than a pretty woman who presents herself as she
is: pretty. Or plain. Or intelligent. Or humorous. Or whatever she is.

Teenagers: look teenager-ish. If they want someone who looks 22 there are thousands to choose from. If you look 15, then look 15. The more your headshot looks like you, the better the headshot.

Men: one nice outfit and one casual. If you aren't the Wall Street type, go for tee or sports shirt only. It used to be one legit (soap, theatre) shot and one commercial. (That is, one glamorous pose and one girl/woman/boy/man next door.) Today, it is strongly
suggest that if some of your roles will be business types, then men wear a tie and jacket and women wear a suit and blouse as one pose and tee shirt or more sporty outfit for the other pose. Whatever you wear, LOOK LIKE YOU. Try as truthfully as you can to figure out what kinds of roles you are likely to get cast in. Chances are if
you are not a "hunk or a model", you are not going to get "hunk/model" roles.

3. Make up? Exactly the same that you yourself could apply. Horrors! I can hear the women screaming. There is only one exception: If you have very dark circles under your eyes, then lighten them under careful makeup. Men, unless you are only the "scruffy, unshaven type" then please shave. LOOK LIKE YOUR HEADSHOT
AND HAVE YOUR HEADSHOT LOOK LIKE YOU. Unless you are stunning, please do not have your face all glamored up, unless you are willing to pay a make-up artist every time you audition.

4. Just be sure the picture is about you, not about hair or boots or glamorous makeup. What does that mean? I met with a casting director at my theatre and she was talking to us about auditions etc. She told me that she once saw a headshot of a young woman sitting on the floor wearing boots. The shot was angled from the bottom of her boots. Those boots, consequently, were twice the size of her head. That was a picture about boots. After she first saw the boots, five minutes later she had forgotten the face, but the image of boots has lingered five years.

Try to stay away from headshots with distracting backgrounds-- wrought iron fences with parallel lines, cityscapes, angles, circles, cars. STOP. Your headshot must have NOTHING that takes the viewer away from you. NOTHING. No housetops, no trees, no nothing. If the
photographer insists, run -- run very fast to another photographer. :P
The photographer with distracting backgrounds is more interested in his own clever shots than in capturing your face.

5. NOTHING MUST TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR FACE. That is what people must see.

6. If you smile, get your whole face, especially the eyes, into the smile. Otherwise just a "real you" look is best. If you are self-conscious about your teeth, your smile will show it. No, do not smile unless you can commit to it completely. (PS. You CAN
teach yourself to smile!)

Well thats about it for now! Your package is now professional. Send 20 a week. And best of
audition hunting!


Thanks for reading! -Dana

16 Replies to ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!

re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By SammyH
On Sat Apr 16, 2005 04:22 PM
Wow! Thankyou so much for going to the effort of typing that. It is really appreciated! Karma for you

xx xx
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By hippyjazzdancer
On Sun Apr 17, 2005 04:57 PM
No problem! Anyone can feel free to use it! :)
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By geckow63member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Apr 17, 2005 08:10 PM
Great post, except for the fact that it's copied word for word from the ActorTips newsletters. Please cite the words because they are not your own.
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By hippyjazzdancer
On Mon Apr 18, 2005 05:40 PM
I know, thats why it is named ActorTips!! :P
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed! (karma: 1)
By geckow63member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Apr 18, 2005 08:32 PM
Oh man, I'm so sorry. I didn't see that. I was going to post it, but I'm too lazy. Well, thanks.
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By onmytoes827member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu May 12, 2005 10:10 AM
Wow thank you so much for going through the trouble to post that for everyone- it is very informative and I am sure I will use it in the future as I started acting when I was in seventh grade and I am pursuing it though high school and college! This post will be very beneficial to my starting out! Thanks!
By rinarina
On Sat May 14, 2005 07:05 PM
i can't thank you enough for posting this! i was thinking of getting my headshots and everything done soon, and i had no idea where to start. i'm actually typing up a resume right now, although i have no experience to speak of (except dance). i LOVEEEEE you!!!!
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By stagelove
On Sun May 15, 2005 04:10 PM
Hehe, thanks! I get tips like this all the time and it's all really benefited me! By the way, this is me, (hippyjazzdancer). It's actually my new DDN name now. Stagelove. I felt it was more appropriate since I love both acting and dance, and you do both of those on stage. :P
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By pineapple_dance
On Wed Jun 29, 2005 12:11 PM

re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By Actress4Ev
On Sun Jun 24, 2007 11:17 AM
Edited by Actress4Ev (180315) on 2007-06-24 11:18:26
okay, I was wondering, I have braces and in my resume picture you can't see them, where should I list this on my resume. Or should I just get a new picture taken showing my braces? Help from anyone would be appreciated.Thank you so much!
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By dancinmachine462
On Tue Nov 20, 2007 09:13 PM
this is all great advice! i'm 14 and am an adimate dancer, i am currently looking into auditioning for various movies/jigs and was wondering what to wear to get my head shots taken next month. what do you think?
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By emilyblunt
On Sun May 18, 2008 12:32 PM
Bravo! This is very informative and you must have had a lot of expierience to put it together- you also must have taken a lot of time to do this ! This should definently be a sticky!!!!!!

Great Job! ~Me
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
On Tue Feb 03, 2009 09:49 AM
Thank you! This was very helpful!!
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
On Tue Feb 03, 2009 09:51 AM
thank you! This was indeed very helpful. i'll be sure to use this in the near future. My only problem is creating my own head shot. I've done it a few times however it doesn't always turn out as well as I would like it to, but thank you so very much!
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By oldancer
On Mon Feb 09, 2009 04:20 AM
Wow... you put a lot of work into this.
thanyou I will pass this on to my daughter, who is wanting to get into acting.
She is a model and a dancer... But also loves the theatre.
At the moment she would like to get into tv ads.
I have no idea how to get started with this.
But all the tips on comp cards is fantastic. She has this with her modelling.
thanks again.
re: ActorTips- Making Your Own Resume and Headshots and Getting Them Noticed!
By GummieBear
On Sun Sep 02, 2012 08:15 PM
Thank you!! I got tired of reading mid-way through (Lol)!!!
But, it was very informative!!



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