Exactly How to Format Your Résumé for a U.S. Market

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Photo Source: Margaux Quayle Cannon

Warning: Incorrectly formatted résumés are everywhere—and they’re spreading like an infectious disease! I’m noticing this from actors coming in to audition for me, from my coaching clients, and in my classes. Lucky for you, I’ve got the cheat sheet for formatting your one-sheet like a pro. Correct layouts vary from country to country, but we’ll focus on the correct U.S. structure, top to bottom, for now:

1. Your Name and Representatives
Your name goes at the top. Make sure it’s in a font that’s large enough to stand out on the page, then list your contact info, agent, and manager on the top or bottom of the page, and use the artwork of your rep company.

2. Film and TV Credits
Don’t bunch different categories together for your acting credits. Separate film, TV, and new media—in that order. Next, your credits should each be allotted three side-by-side columns. The name of the project goes in Column 1; the size of your role in Column 2 (that’s lead/supporting in film, co-star/guest star/recurring in TV, etc.); and the name of the project’s head honcho in Column 3 (that’s the director for film and producer/production company/network for TV). Do not list industrial films, and do not list background work—it makes you look like an amateur. This is something you may do as you’re starting out to gain set experience, but it should not go on your professional acting résumé.

3. Training
We want to see how you’ve trained to get here. You can also use three columns here. Column 1 should tell us what kind of class it is (i.e., Movement, Audition Technique, Improvisation). Specify if your classes are ongoing. I do not believe that casting director workshops should be listed here if they were a one-off—it would be like including a seminar that you attended. Column 2 should list your acting teachers for each course and Column 3 the acting studio.

READ: Backstage Experts Answer: What Belongs on an Actor’s Résumé?

4. Theater Credits
We are very interested in your theater experience. Again, use the three-column format here. From left to right, list the name of the play, your role, and the theater company you performed with.

5. Personal Stats
When I’m putting together an ensemble or pairing two actors in a scene together, I need to know exactly how tall you are. You can also list your weight and hair and eye color here. If you’re a guy who’s sporting a beard in your photo that you’re submitting, it might be a good idea to note that you will be willing to lose your facial hair for a role. You can even insert a smaller photo within your headshot of your different look.

6. Miscellaneous
Include your union affiliation. List your special skills and specify your skill levels. Driving a stick shift is a special skill these days, as many people don’t know how. What kind of dance do you know and what is your skill level? You say you sing—are you a baritone or an alto? What kind of guns are you proficient at shooting? But don’t bother listing silly things like “I can cross my eyes on cue.” And please, for the love of God and all that is holy, do not lie or exaggerate! Also note if you have a valid passport so we know that you can travel. Are you a local hire for various cities? List them. Do you have conflicts coming up? Write that they’re available upon request. And when it comes to awards and nominations, add an asterisk next to the project above and footnote the award name and year below.

Ready to build credits for your résumé? Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!

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Marci Liroff
Known for her work in film and television, producer, casting director, and intimacy coordinator Marci Liroff has worked with some of the most successful directors in the world. Liroff is also an acting coach, and her three-night Audition Bootcamp has empowered actors to view the audition process in a new light.
See full bio and articles here!

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