Your acting skills are top-tier, and that role that you’ve been eyeing out seems perfectly tailored for you. Now all you need is an enchanting acting resume.
But how do you put all your skills and experience on paper? How do you convey to the recruiter that you have all that it takes to ace the part?
Well, this is where we step in with this detailed guide! You’ll get not only specific explanations on how to write every single section of an acting resume but also some real-life examples and expert tips. Without further ado, let’s jump in!
You should tailor your work experience section to the role you’re applying for (e.g., put theater roles first if you’re going for that one).
For best results, have your headshot taken by a professional photographer before attaching it to the back of your resume.
Your education is important, but if you don’t have a formal degree, you can make up for it by adding relevant seminars, masterclasses, workshops, private coaching, etc.
In addition to listing your skills in a separate section, mention the most important ones in other parts of your resume.
What is the Right Format to Use for an Acting Resume?
Broadly speaking, there are three resume formats that are used more than most and that have been proven over time to yield the best results with recruiters. They are:
Chronological, which puts your accomplishments in reverse-chronological order, starting with the latest ones.
Functional, which is perfect for entry-level candidates as it emphasizes skills over experience.
Combination, which is perfect for senior candidates. It combines the chronological and functional to highlight skills and make them more concrete with relevant achievements.
In general, the vast majority of candidates in various fields often see the best results with both recruiters and the ATS by using the chronological format.
However, an acting resume format is unique in the sense that you usually can’t just pick one approach and go with it all the way.
For example, you could list multiple degrees using the principles of the chronological format, but when you’re making a work experience section, you might use a different method.
We’ll go into the specifics for all these sections, so keep reading to find out how to get the most out of every part of your acting resume.
A resume layout is a fancy way of describing the appearance of your resume.
For optimal results, you should keep your resume to one page. To achieve that while still conveying enough information, consider these guidelines:
Bulleted lists are much more concise than blocks of text.
One-inch margins on all sides and enough space between sections help improve readability.
A resume-friendly font such as Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica will make your document look clean and professional.
You want to create a font size hierarchy and emphasize important elements, so you should use a 10–12 pt font size for the body and a 14–16 pt font size for section headings.
What Sections Should an Acting Resume Contain?
Every acting resume should feature these sections:
Of course, you can always spice up your resume by adding optional details such as:
Now, we know that writing a resume can be daunting—especially if it’s your first time doing it. That’s why we’ve created an acting resume builder to help you out.
It’s a piece of software that will do all the resume-crafting hard work for you—from creating a professional layout to choosing a font or color. Your job is to simply fill in the blanks with your information, and you could have a finished acting resume in minutes!
Acting Resume Contact Information
This is the section that lets recruiters contact you should you get the job, which makes it crucial. You should put your contact details in the header of your resume and include your name, phone number, email address, and (optionally) website.
Additionally, you should include your height, weight, hair color, and eye color, as well as your vocal type if you sing.
Lastly, if you have any union affiliations, this would be the perfect time to mention them. If not, simply write “Non-Union.”
Here’s what that looks like:
Contact Information Example
+ 573 305 1351
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Voice Type: Tenor
If you have an agent, start with “Represented by” and follow up with their details. In that case, you could omit your contact information.
Acting Resume Objective or Summary
Think of your resume’s objective or summary as film trailers. They need to be short, catchy, and to the point in order to hook recruiters into reading the rest of the document.
An objective is written by new actors who don’t have a lot of professional experience, so they’ll want to highlight their skills, passion, and commitment to acting instead.
On the other hand, experienced actors will want to leverage their most impressive work as an attention-grabber, so they’ll write a resume summary.
No Acting Experience Objective
If you’re writing an acting resume for beginners and you lack substantial professional experience, you’ll want to utilize your education and skills while displaying a strong drive and passion for acting.
Here’s a good example of a resume objective:
“Empathetic actor with a BFA degree and professional work in commercial acting. Exceptional at memorizing and improvising in high-pressure settings. Recognized for adaptability, charisma, and artistic integrity.”
Let’s compare that to a poorly written resume objective:
“Talented actor looking to leverage my skills and experience obtained appearing in [unknown, unreleased indie film] to have a breakthrough role.”
Acting Resume Summary
Seasoned professionals should put their finest work in the spotlight by writing an acting resume summary. Talk about the experience in the field, specific roles, awards, accolades, or anything else that shows exceptional results.
Let’s check out a good example:
“Reactive and talented actor with 5+ years of experience in film and theater acting. Acknowledged by peers for impeccable collaboration, high energy, and work ethic. Adapted to performing on high-pressure sets such as Star Wars. Winner of the Carbonell Award for the Best Play Actor.”
For comparison, here’s a bad resume summary with no substantial or memorable details about the applicant:
“Dedicated actor with lots of experience. Roles in high-rated TV shows and theater plays.”
Acting Resume Headshot
A personal photo is another way in which an acting resume is different from most resumes for other jobs. Due to anti-discrimination laws, it's usually not a good idea to put this on other resumes, but a headshot is usually a must on acting resumes.
Your headshot should be a large (generally 8” by 10”) photo that you’ll attach to the back of your resume. That means both your resume and your headshot should be the same size.
There are three easy ways to connect your headshot to your resume:
Staple them together
Print your resume on the back of your photo.
One thing you shouldn’t do is use paper clips, as they could come off. Also, if you’re going the “print on the back of the headshot” route, keep in mind that you’ll have to print a new photo whenever you change something about your resume and the old one becomes obsolete.
Finally, since headshots are such a big part of your resume, it’s crucial to have them taken by professional photographers who specialize in that kind of work and know what they are doing.
Acting Resume Work Experience
Your work experience section can often be the difference between landing the role and having your application discarded, so let’s see how to get this part right.
One of the most important things to know when it comes to writing the work experience section is to tailor it to the role you’re applying for. You could even create different resumes for different types of work.
To customize this section, you can start by putting previous roles that are more relevant at the top of the section. For example, if you’re looking for a theater role, you’ll naturally want to list those first.
To add previous roles to your work experience section, you should use three columns and include:
The name of the production
The name of the director or theater
While dates of production aren’t mandatory, you also shouldn’t add any work that you did more than ten years ago.
On a final note, avoid adding any work that you did as an extra (background actor) if you’re going for speaking roles.
No Acting Experience
Even if you’re new to the field, you can write a professional acting resume with no experience by following the general tips we discussed. The trick is to list other activities, such as drama workshops or acting classes.
Here’s what that looks like:
No Acting Experience Example
Trial by Jury
Film Acting Experience
If you have lots of acting experience, you might want to create separate resumes for specific industries or types of roles.
Here’s what a work experience section looks like when applying for a part in a film or TV show:
Film Acting Experience Example
Crazy For You
West Side Story
A Chorus Line
Summer Overtures ‘17
Texas Tech University ‘14
Kennedy Center ‘13
As you can see, the candidate listed roles in order of importance, starting with the most prominent, leading role. On the same note, it’s usually better to use types of roles instead of character names when it comes to listing films.
Theater Acting Experience
The difference between the work experience section for a film actor and a theater actor is in the way you write roles. For theater, you want to list character names.
Here’s an example:
Theater Acting Experience Example
Unicorn Theatre ‘20
Union Station ‘17
Starlight Theatre ‘16
Acting Resume Education Section
You don’t need a degree or any type of formal training to get into acting (think Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Jim Carrey, and many others). However, having a degree listed in your acting resume education section adds credibility to your skills.
Your education becomes all the more important the less professional history you have on your resume.
In essence, you should add your degree, the name and location of the institution that issued it, and your dates of attendance.
Here’s what that looks like in practice:
Education Section Example
Bachelor of Arts, Theater Arts
New York Film Academy, New York, NY
Winner of the “Marc Longlois Award for Leadership in Theatre”
Lead star in three college theater plays
As you can tell from the example, you can add notable achievements in the form of a bulleted list to emphasize your education section even further.
If you lack formal education, you can include all kinds of training related to acting, seminars, masterclasses, workshops, private coaching, and so on. Depending on the position that you’re applying for, you could also include specialized training in singing, martial arts, stunt work, and similar fields.
Acting Resume Skills
Every role you apply for is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. That means recruiters are always looking for candidates who feature an exact skill set that makes them a perfect fit.
Because of that, you want to research the role or the job posting to figure out which skills will have the biggest impact on recruiters. Creating a tailored list is one of the best ways to stand out among the competition.
Furthermore, you should keep mentioning skills throughout your acting resume. Whenever you have the chance, you should add a skill to a relevant accomplishment to make it more concrete and prominent.
What you don’t want to do is lie or “bend the truth” when listing your skills. Fooling around with your friends and trying out different dialects doesn’t mean you have professional training in particular accents.
Here’s an example of some of the acting resume skills you could include in your job application:
Special performance skills (crying on cue, ventriloquism, juggling, etc.)
Acting Resume Optional Sections
Optional sections can make your acting resume more arresting. Let’s see some of the ones that you can add to your document.
In addition to your education section, relevant courses serve to further add trustworthiness to your acting skills. If the courses you have completed are tightly connected to your formal education, you can list them in a bullet list in that section. Otherwise, create an optional section after all the mandatory ones and list your courses there.
We briefly mentioned that you could list some of your most impressive awards in the resume summary section. However, this is the part of your resume where you should go all in and add all the awards and accolades that portray you as an exceptional, high-achieving artist. Of course, you only want to list professional, peer-vetted awards.
If a certain award is outstanding and you know it’ll have a great impact on recruiters, you can add it next to a relevant role in the work experiencesection to ensure recruiters see it.
Depending on the role you’re applying for, proficiency in certain languages can be a must-have. Regardless, this is an impactful section that you can include in your acting resume by listing the languages you know in order of your skill level, starting with your highest one. The skill levels are:
Full professional proficiency
Professional working proficiency
Limited working proficiency
Should You Submit a Cover Letter With Your Acting Resume?
One of the easiest ways to show recruiters that you always put in the work and go the extra mile is to submit a cover letter that matches your resume.
A cover letter should consist of 3–5 concise paragraphs where you get to talk about your skills and achievements in greater detail.
For bonus points, address the recruiter directly and finish the letter with a call to action, letting them know you’re eager to discuss your involvement further.
Expert Tips for Creating an Acting Resume
Let’s finish this thorough guide with a couple of expert tips that will help you perfect your acting resume:
You should thoroughly proofread your entire resume and pay extra attention to the contact information section. You don’t want to lose a role due to a simple typographic error.
The goal of your resume objective/summary is to show what you bring to the production. That’s why you should omit personal pronouns, and all your skills, abilities, and achievements should describe what makes you perfect for the role you’re applying for.
You can highlight that you worked with famous actors or actresses by adding their names next to the respective roles in your work experience section. You should put their names in parentheses like this: (w/ Michael Keaton).
When sending a soft copy of your acting resume, you should submit it in PDF unless instructed otherwise. For example, an MS Word file might look perfect on one computer but may get completely messed up on another.
That’s all the information you’ll ever need to write a resume that will get you the role of your dreams.
Don’t forget that you can always check out our resume builder to speed up the whole process without sacrificing quality.
The Oscars await!