Too many actors are missing out on numerous commercial casting opportunities by not presenting themselves professionally or effectively enough in the skills section of their resume. It is important to understand that so many commercial and often theatrical roles are looking to cast actors with specific skills. Your skills (other than your acting ability) can get you more auditions and get you cast in jobs—especially when first starting your career.
Skills and hobbies can be almost anything from: racing cars to horseback riding, drawing to computer abilities, singing to dialects, languages to playing a musical instrument, collecting salt and pepper shakers to being the president of a celebrity’s fan club, performing all kinds of dances as well as participating in various sports activities. Just about anything in which you excel, do well or have some experience doing are considered your skills and should be listed on your resume.
The skills section of your resume can be very influential in getting you commercial auditions since often roles require skills. And lots of actors are missing out because of the ineffectual way they present their skills or the ones that they omit listing.
Here is a one-paragraph, format example of how to make the listing of your skills more influential:
SKILLS (or SPECIAL SKILLS)
Roller-blading (state champion), singing (mezzo soprano, two- octave range), French (fluent), Spanish and Italian accents, volleyball (B-rated), swing dancing (competitive), experienced dog breeder, excellent cook, intermediate guitarist, miniature doll house expert, choral director, collector of McKnight lithographs, trained in firearms, juggling, basic martial arts, crew rowing, Jeopardy contestant, balloon sculpting, valid drivers license and passport.
As you can see from this example, a level of proficiency is added when appropriate. This can be important because it can make that skill more impressive to industry pros. Some of the adjectives you might use to describe your expertise are: basic, experienced, intermediate, excellent, professional, etc. -whatever is descriptive and appropriate for you.
It can also work to just state a skill (when there is no appropriate adjective) because some roles may just want someone with a little experience. Also list, if you have any, a passport, licenses and foreign citizenship.
The order of how you state these attributes is significant as well. I suggest that you start with your most proficient skills and then list those for which there might be a greater demand. Follow those with the ones you have less experience doing or the more obscure skills or hobbies. The “skills” example above should give you a good idea of an order.
Actors sometimes list personality traits like “good with children,” “calm under pressure,” “strong communicator,” etc. I don’t recommend this even though it has been helpful for some. But the addition of a fun skill like; “cooks a mean turkey casserole”, can be a conversation starter with an agent or casting director.
WARNING: Don’t list skills, hobbies or activities that you might be able to do, tried once, are not good at or are just putting on your resume to get up for more roles. The goal is to get the auditions you are truly right for, not to get a lot of auditions. There is nothing worse than an actor showing up for an audition that requires a particular ability and he/she can’t do it. It is frustrating to those doing the casting and creates a negative impression.
The more skills, hobbies, talents and life experiences you have and sports you participate in, the more roles you could be up for. It is a good career strategy to have a full life.
Carolyne, a casting director, working actress, and director, is considered by agents, casting directors and students, the best Commercial Audition Acting Coach in Los Angeles. Since 1982, the Carolyne Barry Workshops have been one of the most successful, full training Acting Schools. Ms. Barry and her coaching staff have trained thousands of professional actors. The comprehensive acting, commercial, hosting, and musical theatre workshops and the teachers offered in her programs have often been voted the BEST by the Backstage readers. Follow Carolyne on Facebook and Twitter. www.carolynebarry.com www.mastertalentteachers.com.