Acting Tip: Acting Resume, Cover Letters, and Head Shots, OMG!
If you really want to 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 head shot are truly the first impressions you’ll make. 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 marketer. What makes you interesting and unique as an actor? This is your USP (Unique Selling Point). Your resume and cover letter act as your PVU …
For your resume and cover letters to be truly effective, you need to follow a few simple guidelines:
For your resume, divide the page into two parts: a part for your actual resume, a 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 title below each testimonial quote.
If you’re just starting out, put EVERYTHING about acting on your resume; List 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 complete your resume; list everything you can. As time goes by, choose the less glamorous acting parts and replace them with the true 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 are ever separated, your photo will be intact forever on your resume.
Actors have little time to spend on marketing themselves, much less on anything other than acting. For this reason, you should have two form letters ready to go at all times: one for theater and one for film / television. Keep it short and sweet. Your letter should include a short 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 ‘movie’ or ‘project’ depending on what you are submitting). I know your time is valuable so I’ll keep it short – I’d really appreciate it if you would take a moment to review my headshot and resume and tell me if you’d like to meet me. Again, your letter should include your most recent or current work (try to include images 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 you. You can reach me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I hope to hear from you soon. And then sign your name.
When emailing a photo and resume, use the same cover letter used in regular emails; just cut it out and paste it into the text part of your email (remember, you’re trying to save time, so make it easy!). Don’t forget to attach your headshot and make sure to measure the size of the headshot appropriately.
Headshots should look like you do now. If your headshot doesn’t look like your current appearance, get a new one …
You don’t have to spend a large chunk of change on a reputable photographer, great deal, bells and whistles to get a good headshot. Just look around you and find someone who has a pretty good portfolio and low prices. A photographer who was just starting out took my head shot. I got a lot out of 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 clothes, jewelry, etc. You want YOU (not your clothes and gear) 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 / CV kit brilliant!