How to Write an Actor's CV / Acting CV
As an actor, your professional CV must follow the very strict format that's expected by casting agents, directors and other media and theatre professionals. The degree of personal information you need to include is different, as this is one of the few professions where it's legal to make appointments based on the candidate's appearance.
In the acting profession, it's required that you provide a professionally photographed, 10x8" headshot. If you're seeking work as a presenter, a full length colour photograph is appropriate and should be included with your acting CV.
The photograph and an Actor's CV must work together to sell your suitability for a role - the headshot for your appearance and the written CV for your skills and versatility. The CV's crucial task is to create a positive impression of you before an audition, not only as a performer, but as a team member as well.
Writing your own acting CV can be a time consuming task. Instead, you might consider letting our professional CV writers dramatically improve your CV for you. With our 27 years' experience in CV writing, Bradley CVs knows how to get results for you and get you the interviews you want.
Personal Information on an Acting CV
While regular CVs require you to position your contact details in the header, your actor's CV has a full section devoted to your personal information. You do, of course, include your name, which may be a stage name rather than your given name.
However, it's not necessary to include an address. In fact, for female candidates, it's advisable not to. Your acting CV will be accompanied by your photograph and, as you're unable to control whose hands it passes through, it's safer not to include a residential address.
An actor's CV may also be included in casting directories such as Spotlight (in the UK), so it's more secure to maintain your privacy. If you have an agent, you can use your agent's address rather than your own address.
Start your CV, then, with your name printed in large, bold type at the top of your acting CV. Next comes your email and telephone number. You might wish to add a location if you're looking for regionally based work, although this might limit opportunities if you're looking further afield. This can be as basic as "Location: London". If you have an agent, their contact details come next.
This is followed by your Spotlight directory number and your Equity number, if you have them.
Don't include your age. Although this would seem to be essential information for casting purposes, doing so can restrict your opportunities.
Your photograph is how you sell your appearance and it is up to the director to decide what age you pass for and whether you are suitable for a part. If you wish, you can include the age ranges you can play.
Basic physical details can be included, as these are needed and can't be determined from the headshot photo. This information is limited to your height, build, hair colour and eye colour. Next comes the range of accents you can perform.
All of this information is in the upper third of your Actor's CV, with your name acting as a heading. It's convention to arrange it in two columns, so valuable space isn't wasted.
Credits on Your Actor's CV
The next section of your Actor's CV concerns your performance history, which is in effect your work history within the profession. You never include details of work that is outside acting.
This is your chance to influence how you're perceived and cast. This means that you don't simply list all your credits in reverse date order. As with any CV, your acting CV must impress the director in as short a time as possible, so you must make the correct impression within the first few lines. This depends on you having enough credits to be selective over the order they are listed in. A professional CV writer can help you determine what should be included and what should be left out to create maximum impact.
When sending out individual acting CVs, you can target the credits according to the position you're seeking. As well as shaping this section to suit the medium (whether theatre, TV, etc.), you can utilise your background knowledge of the directors or producers, the type of production and the kind of people who are normally successful getting the roles. This knowledge is built up over time, so becomes easier to use as you gain more experience.
Otherwise, how you arrange your credits depends on the kind of work you're seeking. If you're looking for TV work, then your most prominent on-screen credits must come first, so they're noticed by the director or casting agent. Likewise, if you're seeking theatrical roles, then your theatre credits are uppermost.
If it makes it easier, you can use subheadings to organise and categorise your roles. Your categories can be obvious, such as Repertory Theatre, Touring Theatre, Television, Radio, Film, Commercials, etc.
Each credit should be listed on one or two lines. For example, for theatre credits, include the production's name, the name of the role you played and the theatre. For smaller or less well-known venues, include the location too. In the right hand margin, list the inclusive dates.
For television or radio credits, list the show's name, the role you played and the production company who produced it.
It's worth including the director's name as well. Everyone knows everyone in this profession, so for many, the fact that you were engaged by a particular individual will influence their own casting decisions.
If you are just starting out in your career, it's essential to have some roles, even if they're small scale theatre productions or community events. It's extremely important that you never lie or exaggerate on your Actor's CV though. The performance world is very small, as people move around and change employers so frequently. Somebody will know somebody and your lie will be discovered.
Bearing all this in mind, you should be shaping this section to suit the exact role, production and casting crew for the specific audition.
Qualifications and Training on an Acting CV
You don't need to list your school here, or the non-performance degree you have taken. This section of your Actor's CV is concerned solely with your theatrical training.
If you've studied for a drama degree, you should list this first. You should also list any acting classes or workshops you've attended, such as voice training, singing, dance or any other aspect of performance.
This section enables you to demonstrate your versatility, even if you've not yet been able to engage the workshop training in your roles to date.
Include the dates when you attended the workshops on your acting CV. It's worth attending some training with regularity, so that directors can see you're constantly updating your skills.
Special Skills on an Actor's CV
This is the section where you can highlight the skills that are exactly what the director or casting agent is looking for with a particular role. These may be performance skills developed during your study and education, or other skills that can be useful in particular roles, such as improvisation, horse riding, a second language, stage fighting, musical instruments, etc.
Don't be tempted to include skills on your Actor's CV that you really aren't proficient in, in order to try to secure a role. In order to be convincing, it must be effortless. This means being able to utilise the skills well without notice. If you're unable to do this, then you risk damaging relationships that could otherwise prove fruitful in the future.
Other pages that may interest an actor: