Five things that look good on an actor’s resume
I should start by saying that this list is not the be all and end all. There are plenty of other things that look good on an actor’s resume. But this is a good list to start with. Also, I’m not gonna say that if you have some or all of this stuff on your resume then you’ll for sure get all the parts you want. This article is simply giving you an idea of what directors like seeing. This stuff can make you look like a professional, or experienced, or knowledgeable, or all of the above. If nothing else, it gives you clout and this is always helpful in your career, especially if you’re still a newbie.
Working with a company more than once
This is mentioned in a previous article about rookie actors, but it bears repeating. When you’ve worked with a company more than once, or even several times, this is a big gold star on your resume. It tells a director you are good to work with because a company invited you back. Also, remember, the audition is never over! While it’s great to enjoy yourself in a show, you should also treat it as a networking opportunity. You don’t wanna be a suck-up, because that’s just unattractive and annoying—and glaringly obvious! But you do wanna get in good with the director. On top of that, you also wanna get to know other people involved in a production because there’s a good chance they’ll have a project of their own in the future.
Ability to play an instrument
The ability to play an instrument, or even multiple instruments, always looks great on a resume, for several reasons. Maybe a character plays an instrument. Or maybe they need someone to play one off stage or in a recording because the actor they cast doesn’t play. Or, this could tell a director that you have a musical ear. This can help in other instances, for example, if you’re ever required to sing for a show. If nothing else, it shows you have resourcefulness and perseverance. Not only is playing an instrument useful, but it also shows that you can stick to something. Learning an instrument takes time, discipline, practice, structure, patience. You don’t learn it overnight. If you take the time to learn to play guitar, piano, harmonica, ukulele—whatever, it tells someone you’re strong willed, and that’s a quality attribute for theater.
Is money an issue? It sure is for me. If you can’t afford private lessons, here is a great online piano course. (It’s geared for kids, but adults can obviously take it.) I’ve never been good at learning online (like, without a teacher), but this class has worked for me! I highly recommend it. Or, you could also search for classes on Udemy. They have a variety of music classes and they also have flash sales all the time! Be sure to look for classes that have a lot of good reviews! And if you don’t own an instrument that you’re interested in learning, many music stores work with people on a limited budget.
This may seem like a given. You may be able to get a small role without having theater training, because you have to start somewhere. But regardless, directors like to see that you have at least some education in acting. This doesn’t necessarily mean a four year or two year degree, although that helps. (People like to dump on theater degrees because they think theater doesn’t give a person valuable skills which is completely untrue. But you can still get valuable training in a community class, whether that’s for scene study, classical theater, improv, and so on. Also, this is another good way to network. Some teachers even work with people who have financial barriers. One good thing to do is contact a local professional, union theater in your area. There’s a good chance they offer classes, but if they don’t, you can ask them if they can direct you to some good ones.
This is different from the above example, but it’s good to have nonetheless. Theater practitioners often hold workshops in a variety of categories from stage combat, to improv, to auditions, to Shakespeare, and more. Taking a workshop doesn’t make you an expert in this field, but it does give you some experience and knowledge of what to expect if you choose to pursue it further. For instance, if I was casting a role that I knew involved stage combat, a workshop in this area would stand out to me. I know the actor doesn’t have the level of knowledge and experience that my fight choreographer does, but I do expect that the actor has an idea of what to expect and how to conduct themself while doing stage combat. I’m not saying I would cast this person solely based on this, I’m just saying it would take a lot off my shoulders.
Knowing your measurements!
OK, so… a lot of actors are guilty of not knowing their measurements, myself included. Hey, I’m not perfect! But if you know your measurements and put them on your resume, this shows a director you’ve taken initiative and it helps the costumer. If you can have a professional wardrobe person do your measurements, or show you how to take yours, great! If you have a costumer on your show, ask them if they can do your measurements for you, if they’re not doing that for the cast already. They may be too busy for that, so don’t be put off if they say no. But the bottom line is, if you know your measurements and are able to provide that information, it’s a big help for a show!
If you don’t have one or all of these examples on your resume, don’t fret. You can decide on a good one to pursue as you grow your acting career. Stay busy, but don’t overwork yourself.