There's something quaint about a résumé. We live in a digital world where actors send agents high-quality JPEGs of their headshots and links to video files of their demo reels. But a résumé, even in PDF form, is still a simple piece of paper that tells me everything I need to know when I'm thinking about signing an actor. That's why you have to take it as seriously as any of your other marketing tools. So let's discuss what should and shouldn't be on your résumé.
First, it amazes me that actors still include their home address. What's the thought process behind this? Do you expect me to write back? There's absolutely no reason to place your home address on your résumé unless you want to be seen as a complete amateur.
Worse, actors often put their Social Security number at the top of their résumé, right next to their name. Color me paranoid, but we live in a world of identity theft, and I never give anyone my Social Security number unless there's payment involved. So keep those nine digits to yourself. Agents only need that information if you're a client because production will ask for it when you book a job.
Sometimes actors make the opposite mistake and forget to include their phone number or email address. This always happens when a submission catches my eye and I want to contact the person who sent it. I guess with a little effort I could always track down the actor, but why bother? It's been my experience that unprofessional mistakes are made by unprofessional actors who have no place on my client list.
So what should be on your résumé besides credits and training? All you need is your name, union affiliation, phone number, email address, website address, and basic statistics such as height and weight. It's also a good idea to include any other representation you might have, such as a manager or a commercial agent. Doing so shows me you've got something going on, and that's a plus in your column. Also, if I know the agent or manager, I might contact him or her for feedback. And that might just be the thing that gets you in my office.
Now let's move on to some of the more stylish mistakes I've seen.
I have always believed that actors have access to secret fonts. Just the other day, I received a submission and the résumé was unreadable. The font was a weird script that seemed to blur from one letter to the next. Just looking at it gave me a headache. I assume actors do this to stand out, but it's a bad move. I've never called in anyone because he or she impressed me with a mastery of creative font selection.
While we're on this point, please don't make the font size extra, extra large as a way of filling an empty piece of paper. Who do you think you're fooling? I shouldn't be able to read your résumé from across the street.
The final issue we need to address is content. Here are a few random notes.
Scenes performed in class don't count as theater credits. If you need stage experience, go do a real play. Film and TV are separate categories. Listing them as one won't trick me into believing you have more credits. Technical work such as stage managing doesn't belong on an acting résumé. So save that stuff for someone who cares.
When you're submitting yourself for representation, you have to understand there are thousands of actors just like you competing for the attention of hundreds of agents. Those are bad odds, so don't undermine your perfect picture and eloquent cover letter with a sloppy résumé. Trust me. It's always the little things that get in your way.