How To Make an Acting Resume

acting resume and a smiling woman's headshot on a table with a laptop

When you’re a performer, your acting resume is one of your most important tools. In many cases, it’s your only chance to make an impression on a casting director — your resume and headshot can make the difference between getting an audition and being passed over.

An acting resume is not a traditional resume. It has a specific format that’s designed to showcase your acting experience, training, and special skills. It gives casting directors a snapshot of your career, so they can decide at a glance whether or not you’re right for a role.

What To Include on an Acting Resume

Every actor’s resume looks a little bit different. That’s normal — your resume is a reflection of your career so far. It will evolve with you. To get you started, here are some of the things to include:

1. Personal Information

The top section of your acting resume should contain critical information about who you are as a performer and how to contact you.

  • Performer details: Add a few details about who you are as a performer; this is most important for musical theater performers. If you’re a singer, make sure to include your voice part and vocal range. You can also add other details that set you apart, such as “dancer” or “vocal coach.”
  • Personal details: Typically, this line includes your height; some actors also include hair color and eye color.
  • Union affiliation: If you’re a member of one or more acting unions, make sure to list them on your resume. It’s standard practice to use the abbreviations: AEA, SAG-AFTRA, EMC, etc. 
  • Contact information: Include at least one way to contact you. An email address is fine; your website URL makes it easier for casting teams to find your reel and clips, if they want to. You can add a phone number, but only if you don’t mind it being public. Some actors only include contact information for their agents to ensure that communication goes through the proper channels.
  • Social media: If you have a solid TikTok or Instagram following, go ahead and add it to your acting resume. Casting directors know how influential social media is in promoting a show, so it can’t hurt to show off your stats. List it as “TikTok: @Username (144K).”
  • Agent information: If you have representation, it’s standard practice to put the company’s logo and contact information in the top left corner of the page. If you don’t have an agent, simply omit this part.
  • Headshot: Here’s where acting resumes are really different from traditional resumes — they often include a thumbnail of your acting headshot. The photo should be in color, and can be in the top right or left corner. If your resume gets separated from your full-page headshot, the casting team still has a photo to jog their memories.

2. Acting Credits

Your credits are the most important part of an acting resume. This section gives casting teams a quick snapshot of your history in theater, film, television, and other productions.

To make your resume easier to scan, use categories to group. There are no hard and fast rules — you can format this section in the way that makes sense for your career. Some common categories include:

  • New York Theater
  • Off-Broadway
  • Broadway
  • Regional Theater
  • National Tours
  • Workshops and Readings
  • Shakespeare
  • Concerts/Live Performances
  • Recordings
  • Cruise Ships
  • Theme Parks
  • Educational Theater
  • Commercials and Industrials
  • Television
  • Film
  • Voiceover

Feel free to combine categories or create your own. If you’ve done one commercial, one TV guest star, and one short film, you might group them all into a TV/Film/Commercial category. It looks cleaner and more impressive than three separate categories with one item each.

You can also create categories to highlight a special area of expertise. If you’re an actor with a dance background, you might create a “Choreography” category. If you’ve done a lot of work in Shakespeare, show it off with a separate section.

How Far Back Should Your Acting Experience Go on a Resume?

Since acting resumes don’t include dates, how far back should you go? This is a gray area, but many actors restrict their credits to the last 5-10 years. In other words, if you’re 45, it might be time to get rid of your college theater productions.

Of course, this all depends on your experience. If you have 25 credits from the past 5 years, you might not have space to include older productions. If you’re light on credits, you might need older shows to fill out your resume. And if you have some seriously impressive roles that are older than 10 years, go ahead and list them.

3. Education and Training

Use this section to list your acting-related education and training. If you have a degree in musical theater or theater, go ahead and list it; if your degree is in an unrelated field, leave it off. 

You can also include the teachers you’ve studied with for voice, acting, dance, stage combat, etc. This shows that you’ve had formal training, and it can also spark some name recognition if your teachers are well-known in the industry. If you have a great deal of training in one area, consider breaking it down further; under “Dance,” you might list ballet, jazz, and tap, for example.

4. Special Skills

Ahh, everyone’s favorite part of the acting resume: special skills. This section is fine fodder for jokes, but it serves a real purpose — it rounds out your profile as a performer and sets you apart from other auditioners.

Your special skills can also humanize you as a person; take a look at this acting resume example. It provides an impressive snapshot of Emily Kristen Morris’ life and career path.

Your special skills should typically be relevant to the type of acting you’re going to pursue. In other words, there’s no need to include your passion for gardening if you’re hoping to be cast in a Broadway musical. If you’re auditioning for a movie role as a gardener, however, that skill could lend a realistic edge to your performance.

Some ideas for things to include in your acting resume skills:

  • Musical instruments
  • Acrobats, tumbling, or flying
  • Stage combat
  • Social media profiles
  • Specialized training and certifications
  • Athletic abilities
  • Accents
  • Languages
  • Experience working with children
  • Improv
  • Ability to drive a manual vehicle
  • Singing (for straight theater/TV/film actors)
  • Special effects makeup

Acting Resume Examples

actors holding resumes
Image courtesy of nican45 under CC BY-ND 2.0

What does an acting resume look like? Let’s look at some acting resume examples from working actors — they’re submitting their resumes for every audition, so you can bet they’ll meet current industry standards. Take a look at how these actors are formatting their acting resumes:

While you’re at it, go follow each of these performers on TikTok; it’s a great way to keep up with the theater world and get a glimpse into the world of working actors.

What To Put on an Acting Resume for Beginners

How do you make an acting resume with no experience? When you’re just getting started, it can feel impossible. After all, you probably don’t have many credits. First of all, don’t panic — everyone starts somewhere. Casting directors know that your resume will be light in the beginning.

Some of the things you can use to bulk up a beginner acting resume are:

  • Community theater productions
  • College theater productions
  • Student films
  • Masterclasses and workshops
  • Webisodes or short films (even self-created)

If your acting resume is still empty, it’s time to get proactive. Find any opportunity to perform — ask your local community college about opportunities to act in student films and plays, or get involved in community theater. If you’re a singer, look for local benefit concerts.

You can also create your own opportunities. Write a short film, and rope a few actor friends into doing it with you. Start a web series on YouTube. Stage a dramatic reading of a Shakespeare play.

Many beginning actors also find ways to take up more space on a resume — list your special skills or contact information on individual lines, for example, or go into more detail about your training. Be judicious with these strategies; go too far, and you might find that 

As you build up more acting credits, your resume will start to fill up. When space gets tight, you can start tightening up the layout and removing older credits or extra information.

FAQ About Acting Resumes

Do you have to include your weight on an acting resume?

While it was once standard practice, you do not have to include your weight on an acting resume. Thankfully, in the age of inclusivity, this trend is much less common

Should you include high school theater credits on your acting resume?

You should not include high school musicals or plays on your acting resume — unless you’re in high school or you’ve recently graduated.

Should you include a home address on an acting resume?

No — do not include your home address on your acting resume. Keep in mind that your resume will probably be published online, either on your website or your agent’s website; you do not want just anyone knowing where you live! When theaters or production companies need your personal details, they’ll ask.

Can You Include Community Theater Credits on an Acting Resume?

You can absolutely include community theater credits on your resume, especially if you don’t have many/any professional credits. There’s no need to call them out; just group them under a general “Theater” heading.

Should You Put Your Age on an Acting Resume?

There’s no need to list your age or birth date on your acting resume. Directors will decide for themselves if you look age-appropriate for the part.

Should You Lie on an Acting Resume?

It might seem harmless, but it’s never a good idea to lie on your actor resume. Lies will always come back to bite you — a director might expect you to have the ability in rehearsal, or you might be asked to demonstrate in an audition. For film and TV projects, dishonest resumes can lead to expensive delays.

Remember, the theater world (or film, or television) is small. And chatty. Word gets around quickly; the last thing you want is a reputation for lying!

Do You Need Different Acting Resumes for Theater and TV/Film?

If you audition regularly for both theater and film/TV, it’s a good idea to have two different resumes. Even if the information is the same, the way you organize it will be different. Your theater resume should list your theater credits first; a film and TV resume might prioritize screen work. The Special Skills sections may also be different.