After reading your article on billing, I realized that my resume did in fact fall into one of those mistakes. I had put my extra work on my resume, as there is nothing else to put on it. My question is: What do I put on my resume if all I have is extra work? It doesn’t look like a resume without the extra work, yet I do want it to be correct and professional. Any advice?

If you include extra work on your resume but also correctly list it as extra work, you should be okay. The problem most people in casting have with extra work on a resume is that it is typically masquerading as “featured” work. As long as you are forthright in the way you list your credits, you should be okay.

That said, once you have any acting work on your acting resume, it’s time to remove the extra work. All of it. Since your resume is a list of your credits, training, and special skills related to acting, that’s what the focus needs to be. In order to get those first acting credits, start small. Submit on student films, audition at the community theatre, volunteer to do on-camera work at the local cable access facility. There is always someone shooting something, so you can actually get your first acting credit sooner than you may imagine.

Also, think back on your existing on-camera experience. You may already have some acting credits that you’ve disregarded. Did you appear in an instructional video produced by your school? Were you asked to do a “man on the street” segment for a college news program? Have your neighbors been shooting a short film “for fun” and asked you to play a part? I know none of that seems resume-worthy (and certainly, once you have more mainstream credits to include on your resume, these types of things would come off), but as you are constructing a list of credits in order to show your experience on set, make room for a little creativity. That “Freshman Orientation” video that they shot on campus, in which you played a student, well, that counts! So does the school play. Sure, it may have all been years ago, but until you have built up current credits, you need something to send out. I understand that.

Finally, always make it clear in your cover letter that you are a beginner. A great cover letter goes a long way toward helping you get in the door, when your resume is sparse. Everyone has been a beginner at some point, so there is no shame in that! Acknowledge that you are just getting started and that you’re looking to make the leap from extra work to speaking roles. Of course, I’m assuming you will have plenty of training on your resume (as that’s the only way to be truly ready to jump from extra to actor) and special skills are easy to list. Even if you have no acting credits on your resume whatsoever, you will find that there is someone, somewhere willing to bring you in for that first role. Grab a copy of your local paper to check for open auditions at community theatres and keep an eye out for student film casting calls too.

You’ll only be a beginner once. After you begin working, you’ll fill that resume up before you know it. Meanwhile, keep that training going and hit every audition you can! It’ll happen for you. Just keep at it.

Wanna be sure your tools *and* your mindset are in peak form? Let us get you in gear with some FREE training right now!

PS: Last call for tips and questions regarding voiceover work! Next week’s column will be all about voiceovers and I want to be sure to include your best insider information, as well as answering as many questions about the voiceover world as possible. Thanks so much to those of you who have already written in. Great stuff!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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