Lights, camera, action – are you ready to start an acting career?
Acting is a hard but extremely rewarding, and most importantly, fun career choice. One day, you may become a superstar. You know you are destined to become an actor/actress.
Yes, you are talented, hard-working and confident. Your drama training is top notch. You have an incredible appearance. You are special, of course.
After all, you believe these are all you need to land the part of your dreams.
Well, think again.
Landing a part in a movie, theatre production or television show, is a very difficult job.
To increase your chance, you need to have an impressive acting resume- one that brings you to casting directors. Lucky for you, we’ve got the acting resume skills you need to include. All part of the perfect actor’s resume.
So what is an acting resume?
Have you ever tried to apply for a job, any kind of job? If yes, you probably know what a resume is. It is the exact same thing for acting. But it is tailored for acting roles in film, television, stage and commercials
Who will look at your acting resume? Acting agents, casting directors, producers and other industry professionals. They are the people who decide your career! So, your resume is your acting startup kit. It’s easy to put together. You need to include your photo, personal information, education and experience. Many believe your photo is the most important part of your resume. Well, it’s true to some extent. But looks aren’t everything. There are many qualities that make a great actor/actress. You may spend a lot of time writing your experience and selecting the best photo for your resume. But, do you know how to strengthen your chances of getting casting calls? Pay attention to these special skills for your acting resume!
Many people are not familiar with the special skills section on a resume. And sometimes even omit it. In this article, we’ll teach you how to include special important skills in your resume. Believe it or not, showcasing special skills for acting resume experience can be a determining factor in your acting career!
Why are special skills relevant to your acting career?
Many acting roles require you to act, but also to have special skills. Special skills are talents and abilities you have. Accents, stage combat. singing and dancing, accents and dialects, piano…etc. They are all special skills.
For example, if a casting director asked you to perform martial arts in a movie, would you be able to do it? Would you be able to do a good performance? Disney has made a lot of movies about music and sports. It’s crucial for actors to know these music and sports skills in order to be cast in the production.
These skills will increase the chances of landing you more auditions. So, you need to know how to include your special skills in your acting resume.
Writing your acting resume: Special Skills Section
You’ve probably been given a resume template or resume example by a well meaning friend. While this is a nice gesture, we suggest using a more focused acting resume sample created by a fellow professional. Invest some time looking around the internet to examine what a professional actor puts on their resume, particularly the ones with good acting credits and acting experience (eg. roles you may want). Don’t be afraid to take inspiration form their acting resume format; it likely works!
Put the special skills section on the bottom of your actor resume. This is a dedicated section for your special skills. You need to list anything that is relevant to acting. It can be sports, languages, accents, and hobbies. A special acting class. It’s appropriate to mention any particularly deep or prestigious performing arts or acting job experience where you learned unique skills.
How do you decide if you should put a skill on your resume? Well, you need to be confident about your skill level. If a casting director asked you to perform the skill during casting, were you able to do it? If your answer is yes, then do include this skill! If your answer is no, leave it out. Don’t lie.
When you have the right special skills, you get more opportunities for work. For example, accents can make an actor more marketable. You are an American. You speak American English. But, you can also do British accent. It may increase your chance of getting a role in English movie. These language skills increase your chances and open you to many more opportunities.
If you have a good voice, you can be a good fit for musical films. Music-related skills are important when it comes to theater production. List any musical instruments you can play, as well as singing ability. It will widen your opportunities immensely.
Want to get a role in an action film? Nowadays, almost every movie genre has some form of action in it. Even for a romantic film, the physicality of an actor is important. For crime and drama films, it requires stamina for being on set all day. Knowing how to handle physically demanding tasks will help you too. This is especially important when you are cast in an action film. An understanding of how to engage in combat fighting on-screen is a useful skill.
In short, acting is a competitive field. You must compete for a role through an audition process. To let people know you, you need to have a good resume. Additionally, you have to feature your special skills in your resume.
What are some examples of special skills?
Above are some examples of special skills. However, everyone is unique, and every role is different. We can’t cover everything here. But, we can give you a framework. It helps you to brainstorm your skills.
Special skills can be in 3 different categories – performance, backstage and commercial.
A performance skill is a skill related to your performance on stage. As an actor/actress, you are a performer. Acting is not the only skill you should have. In fact, a production contains a lot of elements. So, think of any skill you can perform on stage. Below is a list of examples for your reference.
Examples: accents, musical instruments, painting, weapons handling, foreign language skills, sports, singing, acrobatics, driving.
A backstage skill is a “behind-the-scene” skill. You will not see this skill on screen. However, these skills are required to make a production.
Examples: directing, stage management, lighting and sound effects, hairstyling, makeup, prop-making, crafting skills.
Commercial: Making a movie is a lot of work. After finishing your product, you need to launch it to market. So some commercial skills are preferred. It will be even better if you can handle marketing and public relations.
Examples: computer, graphic design, photography, press releases, social media, media relations, budgeting.
Can’t think of any special skill? Try to use the above framework. This can serve as a guideline. So you won’t miss any important skill. And what shouldn’t you include? Stay professional at all times! Sun tanning, flirting, shopping, or kissing are not special skills.
How to include special skills in a resume?
You should create a dedicated section on the bottom of your resume. This is where you should put your special skills.
There are various resume formats. But to present your skills, the most classic way is to list down every skill you have in this section. Clean and simple. But, creating a skills point system is not recommended. This is a very bad resume trend. Because you should put what you know and what you are good at in a resume. A cute point system is totally meaningless. It serves no value.
Put it in this way, your resume is your marketing and sales weapon. When you market a product, you’ll tell people what this product can do and how good it is. You won’t rate the product as a marketer. The same case applies to your resume. Using a point system is completely meaningless.
Should I lie about my skills?
Honesty is the best policy. You shouldn’t lie about your skills on your resume. If you claim you can do something you really aren’t capable of doing, it’ll damage your reputation. Also, word-of-mouth is very important in the acting industry. When you get the role, it’s going to be a disaster for you and the rest of the people you work with.
However, there are some gray areas- stretching the truth can be okay. If you are a skilled ballet dancer, it could probably be easier for you to pick up another style of dancing. If you have a good language sense, doing various accents of English might not be a challenge for you. So, use your best judgement and common sense. But remember, word-of-mouth is very important in the acting industry. And the acting world is very small. You need to be honest and professional. Even if you can’t get this role this time, who knows what’ll happen next? Always leave a good impression. You need to rely on connections to survive in this industry. Better to save your reputation than claim something you can’t do.
Should I learn a new skill for a acting role?
Why not? You can learn something new for a specific job. Sometimes, when you’re the best fit for that acting role, directors are still willing to give you a chance. Yes, even when you can’t meet all requirements! The production company will give you appropriate acting training and classes. You’re hired because they see potential in you. So be grateful for the opportunity. Take this chance to learn new acting skills. (and be sure to add the educational credits / acting school to your resume going forward; it is relevant experience!)
If you want to get a new skill as a part of your life-long education as an actor/actress, go for it! It’s always good to add new skills and training to your resume. It will make you more marketable. For example, a lot of Chinese actors and actresses are learning English to land a Hollywood role. It’s always a good idea to keep expanding and diversifying your skillset. However, be realistic! You can’t be fluent in a new language in a month! Also, know your limits. You need to set up a realistic plan and don’t overtrain.
Regardless of which situation you are in, keep learning. Find different ways to enrich your resume.
Tailoring your skill set for the career you want
Acting is a very diverse and dynamic industry. You can tailor your skill set for the type of career you want. Learn and master special skills that are suited to the type of work you want most. Do you feel very passionate about a musical theatre career? Then take lots of singing and dancing classes. Want to work in film and television? Spend time learning how to act for the camera.
And we know acting is a competitive field. But again, be realistic, you can’t master a skill within a very short period of time. Sometimes, you have to rely on natural talent too. Feel a bit of pressure? Come on, no two actors are alike! There’s no need to pressure yourself. You don’t have to be just like your colleagues. Everyone is unique and uniqueness is incredibly valuable in this industry.
When someone selects you for a role and requires you to learn a specific skill, grab the opportunity! Take this good chance to expand your skill. Acting is a very insecure job, so better yourself physically and mentally. Keep learning so you can create an impressive resume.
When you are new to acting, you may not know which skills you should focus on. But as your career develops, you may realize our interests shift and change. You should be open, let that happen. As we said before, the acting world is very dynamic, don’t limit yourself. Have fun with your career, you’ll find out what you really want out of your acting career. Take the time to be strategic about your career path and the skills you want to learn. Eventually, you’ll find the roles you love.
It’s no secret that acting can be hard to break into. It’s a very competitive and cruel field. Even the most talented and attractive performers struggle to get a callback.
So how do you stand out and catch the casting director’s attention! Having a well-written resume is a great first step. Even if you’re a beginner with little or no formal experience yet, don’t worry. Find your niche and highlight your special skills. It’ll boost your chances of getting a callback! Good luck everyone!
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