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Backstage Experts

Why You Should Never Lie On Your Résumé About Having a Special Skill

Why You Should Never Lie On Your Résumé About Having a Special Skill
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The acting world is frequently cutthroat and every so often, you may find yourself tempted to fib in an effort to stand out. For example, if a breakdown comes onto your radar and the role is a perfect fit for you save for the fact that the character has one special skill you do not, is there really a huge risk in stretching the truth in order to get seen? The answer is a resounding yes and, here, Backstage Experts weigh in on why that is.

Casting can sniff out fake confidence.
“If you are going to attempt to perform a new skill, keep in mind that in the eyes of casting, the producers, the writers, etc., the character has been practicing that skill for a very long time and they’re probably very natural while doing it. If you’re going to try a new skill, ensure you choose something you’re confident doing.” —Brittney Grabill, pop singer/songwriter in Los Angeles who works in casting for film and music videos  

You could cost the project (a lot of) money.
“My one caveat is that actors must be completely truthful in listing their abilities. If you can’t do something with excellence, don’t put it on your résumé. I once cast an actor who said he could ride a horse; when the time came for him to shoot his scene, I received a panicked call from the line producer, who told me the actor was terrified atop the horse. Actors, please remember that you could cost a production a lot of money if you claim expertise in an area but don’t in fact have it.” —Ilene Starger, casting director

Being truthful is basic good business.  
“Be good at the business parts and practical components, and be honest. Bring what’s asked. Write legibly on sign-in sheets and audition forms. Never lie about unions, past work, physical stats,  availability, top notes, or special skills. Don’t ask interns to hunt down staplers or highlighters. Mark your music clearly. Put electronic devices away. Print and mark up sides for yourself. Don’t bring a closet full of luggage or bags into the space. Economize and declutter the experience. Let the audition be about your craft, personality, and honoring the text.” —Clifton Guterman, casting director and an artistic associate with Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit, associate artist with Atlanta’s Actor’s Express, and Backstage Expert

It’s a matter of respecting yourself.
“When any of us create falsehoods, the damage done is not in the moment of ‘gotcha.’ No, it’s your self-esteem that suffers a near-fatal blow. Lies like honesty cannot be permanently erased. Like the pictographs on cave walls etched millennia ago, a trace will remain somewhere or with someone. But it will most prominently be with your conscious.

“Be better to yourself. Be honest. We all begin with a blank page. Best to keep the page clean than mar it with falsehoods.” —Paul Russell, casting director, director, acting teacher, and former actor

You run the risk of in-the-room humiliation.
“In general, 100 percent honesty on paper is your best friend. Beware a vast list of quirky special skills if you can’t legitimately execute all of them on the spot. (We rarely torture actors by asking for proof, but you never know when someone might.) Accents/dialects, in particular, are tricky. Only list one if you have studied it and could, say, even improvise any text in it.” —Clifton Guterman

Seriously, that in-the-room humiliation.
“We have a lot of things in theme park work that people may not be used to auditioning for. I look at the special skills section all the time on résumés. If you put juggling on your résumé, Hersheypark is going to ask you to juggle.” —Dan Fisher, area manager for resident shows at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Just, don’t.
“There's no crime in being a beginner. Everyone was at one point. So don't be ashamed. Present whatever experience you have in its best light, and put yourself out there.

“Don't lie -- that can easily backfire. If you do, be very careful; make sure you know all about the production with which you're claiming to be associated, in case you're asked. Better still: Don't lie.” —Michael Kostroff, Backstage Expert

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