Should You Ever Leave Professional Work Off Your Acting Résumé?

Photo Source: Jordan Sondler

Q: I’ve done some work that I think is turning CDs away and I may remove it completely from my résumé. Should work ever be left off your résumé if it means empty space between jobs? What if it’s one of only a few professional credits you have? —@warboss5, Backstage Community Forums

This is an excellent question, and my answer will have a few parts to it.

First, we need to know what exactly this “work” is that you think is turning casting directors away or off. Is it a scene from a TV show or film? A commercial? A stage production? Adult entertainment? Is it the role you played that you think will make CDs judge you?

If it’s on your reel, it’s likely that what’s turning casting off is your acting, not the role or production. I’ve watched thousands of reels over the years and sometimes come across a scene where the acting is so terrible, I question why that actor included it, especially if the rest of the reel is pretty good. The acting is bad, the production quality is poor, the editing isn’t great—it just doesn’t let the actor’s talent shine through. If you’re not sure if a scene on your reel is good, ask a professional with years of experience who will tell you the truth.

But your question is really about your résumé. If it’s a role you played that you think might be offensive, don’t sweat it—it was just an acting job–especially if it’s one of only a few professional credits you have. If it’s adult entertainment, I strongly suggest removing it, as many talent companies and clients don’t want to consider actors who have adult projects in their past or present.

I’ve only had this issue once in 25 years. Many years ago, I was casting for a client, and the booking came down to two women. The well-known client asked for background checks on each woman, and one had done work the client didn’t want to be associated with.

That said, if it’s just a TV, film, or theater role, leave it on there.

Truth be told, I don’t really look at résumés anymore. Anyone can make credits up for a résumé, so I rely on video reels. I care about what you can do in front of the camera. Let me see if you can act, not just type out that you can.

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Ken Lazer
Ken Lazer is a seasoned veteran in the business and has been working for the past 23-plus years as a widely sought after New York City and Los Angeles casting director. His experience and credentials have made him an invaluable commodity to ad agencies and production companies over the past two decades, successfully casting thousands of commercials, voiceovers, industrials, real people, beauty ads, feature films, TV shows, reality TV, print ads, and infomercials.
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