Here are a few articles I wrote quite a while back (2005) for actors:
The Musts For Every Actor
DO student, experimental, low-budget, and independent films. Do community and independent theater. Remember, acting is doing—not just studying and reading about it. The more experience you have acting, the more you learn, the more you’ll grow, and the better your acting will be.
DO go for a variety of roles. This way you will stretch yourself as an actor—which will make you a more well rounded actor.
DO get a computer—you’ll be using it A LOT. It’s an essential tool for any actor to have a computer or to at least have access to one (if you don’t have a computer, I suggest setting aside some cash and investing in one). You will be spending a lot of time on your computer creating letters, keeping your resume up to date, editing photos, and looking for work.
DO put up your own acting site on the World Wide Web. This is probably the best way to market yourself (second only to your headshot and resume), and it’s accessible to anyone with a computer, 24/7. Here, you can promote your latest news and endeavors, nicely display your resume, photos, and headshots, and include audio and video clips. Talk about standout!!!
DO look for acting jobs EVERYDAY. Essential sites to frequent are Playbill, Backstage, Actors Access, and Craigslist. Also check out the ‘links’ section of my website.
DO your mailings every day—or every day that you find something to submit for. Even if you don’t think you’re quite right for the part, but you suspect that you could be, submit yourself anyway. Trust me, sometimes it pays off—you may inspire the film-maker or director and change his or her mind about the character. It’s worth every try.
DO have a variety of monologues ready to go at all times (comedic, dramatic, classic, and contemporary).
DO carry headshots and resumes with you at all times. You never know who you’ll run into!
DO take classes whenever you can.
DO join a theater group or company—this will inevitably keep you on your toes!
DO your own thing. MAKE your acting career happen. Write a play, stage a reading—and then star in it. Make your own movie.
DO work with other actors. Establish friendships. Collaborating is great!
DON’T give up on your dream.
Acting Resumes, Cover Letters, And Headshots, Oh My!
If you want to really stand out as an actor (and I think you do), you will have to make your resume stand out for you.
Your resume, cover letter, and headshot are really the first impressions you’ll ever make. They act as your agent—good ones get you auditions, bad ones don’t…
So, how does one go about standing out from the rest of the crowd? Well, first of all, you have to think like a marketer. What makes YOU interesting and unique as an actor? This is you USP (Unique Selling Point). Your resume and cover letter act as your USP…
In order to make your resume and cover letters really effective, you must 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 should be from former directors, playwrights, etc. and they shouldn’t be hard to get. Just ask! (but be sure to get their permission to use their testimonial on your resume) Include the name and position of the person underneath each testimonial quote.
If you are just starting out, include EVERYTHING acting-related on your resume—list every acting job 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, pick off the less glamorous acting parts and replace them with the true gems that highlight your best work.
Include a small thumbnail headshot of yourself on your resume. This will ensure that if your headshot and resume ever do get separated, your photo will be forever intact ON your resume.
Actors have little time to spend on marketing themselves—let alone anything else non-acting related. For this reason, you should have two form letters ready to go at all times—one for theater, one for film/television. Keep it short and sweet. Your letter should include a brief introduction, your purpose for writing in, your recent endeavors, and a friendly closing. For example, my cover letter states: I’m writing you today because I am very interested in auditioning for your play (or ‘film’ or ‘project’—depending on what you’re submitting for). I know your time is valuable, so I’ll make this short: I would really appreciate it if you could 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 work (try to include pictures within the body of the letter), what classes you’re taking, etc. Then wrap it up with something short and sweet like: Thank you for your time and consideration. I’d love to meet with you. I can be reached at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I hope to hear from you soon. And then, sign your name to it.
When sending a headshot and resume via email, use the same cover letter used in regular mailings—simply cut and paste it into the text portion of your email (remember, you’re trying to save time, so make it easy on yourself!). Don’t forget to attach your headshot—and make sure to size the headshot appropriately.
Headshots should look like how you look right now. If your headshot doesn’t look like how you look now, get a new one…
You don’t have to spend a big chunk of change on a reputable, big deal, bells-and-whistles photographer to get a nice headshot. Just look around and find someone who has a pretty good portfolio and low prices. I got my headshot done by a photographer who was just starting out. I got a great deal on my headshots 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 clothing, jewelry, etc. You want YOU (not your clothing and accouterments) to stand out.
That wraps up our section on resumes, cover letters, and headshots. I hope this section has inspired you to make your HS/resume kit brilliant!
There are a couple of things every actor should know about auditioning:
Before you leave your home, make sure you have your headshot/resume neatly stapled together, the address and a map of where the audition is, and the phone number of the auditors in case you get lost.
Dress appropriately for the audition (and if you’re unsure of what to wear, make sure prior to the audition to ASK the auditors what is appropriate to wear).
Arrive about 15 minutes early. This will ensure that you will have enough time to catch your breath, sit down, look over the sides and freshen up before your audition.
Be aware that there are actors who will try to distract you. Politely acknowledge them and excuse yourself graciously. Focus on your sides or on your monologue. Being distracted like this before an audition can leave you nervous, unsure of yourself, or incapable of delivering your best performance.
Don’t count on nailing the audition—this puts too much pressure on yourself. Nailing the audition is good, but in the world of acting, rejection reigns supreme. It happens 95% of the time. The trick here is to not see the audition as the end all-be all. Just do the best job you can and leave it at that.
If you think you did a bad job, don’t apologize—ever. Casting people and directors hate that. Just thank them and leave. Remember, there will be other auditions!
Consequently, if you think you did a great job auditioning, send a note of thanks to the auditors for inviting you to audition for them and how much you enjoyed meeting them. It never hurts to be nice.
If your agent set up the audition for you, thank them for doing so. Call or email them and tell them how the audition went. This makes them feel appreciated by you and they will remember you as “the polite one who actually cares enough to call.” This will get you noticed and you will be more likely sent out on auditions.