Lots of follow-up questions stemming from last week’s column on the Starter Resumé. Let’s dive in!

Hi Bonnie! I have a question about the starter resumé/working actor resumé. If you are not in the LA market and occasionally do background work just to get work, where would you put that? I know in the LA market background is not something you would put on your resumé as a credit, but could you put it down in the section Special Skills, something like Background (Burn Notice, Glades multiple episodes, Three Stooges)? I would think if you are a kid that is just starting out that you would want the casting director to know that you do at least have experience on set. Curious what you think.

Slow in Florida!
Cynthia Roge

Definitely, the rules are different in other markets! That’s for sure. What I recommend in Los Angeles is that actors who have done background work, pageants, modeling, industrial projects, etc., label everything accurately if they must include it on their resumés, then perform Resumé Feng Shui as soon as more mainstream on-camera acting credits work their way onto the resumé. Basically, you want to use what you need to use to show the buyers that there is low risk in casting you (or your child) because there has been some on-set experience, but you don’t want to clutter the resumé with credits that make them think you’re only good at background (and not capable of performing a speaking role), nor to distract from more legit credits, once they start showing up on your resumé.

The most important thing is being accurate in your labeling! Many people try to “sneak” extra work onto their resumés, thinking no one is going to notice that they’ve labeled it “featured” or “small supporting,” when IMDb will back up the fact that it was extra work. Being confronted with the truth during an audition is a sure way to crush your confidence, as an actor. So, sure, use what you need to use for your market, but be sure you’ve labeled everything accurately. Be cool with where you are and where you’re headed! It’s a great journey.

Dear Ms. Gillespie,

Thank you so much for your amazing resumé columns; they have helped me so much! Have a question regarding listing theatre projects. I’ve done a couple of original, site-specific plays, one of which was later filmed as a feature and produced by a local studio, and am never sure of the best way to list them on my resumé. Right now, I have them listed as you recommend in your column, under Theatre as Title — Character (Supporting) — Theatre/Dir. and under Film as Title — Supporting — Studio/Dir.

Do you have any recommendations as to the best way to list these projects? I’m never sure if adding “original” or “site-specific” in parentheses would be beneficial or just overkill!

Thank you so much and I hope you’re having a great day!

Sincerely,
Sarah Shepherd

Hi Sarah. I think the way you have it set up now is just fine! And it’s also cool to note parenthetically anything that gives folks a better idea of what you’ve got going on. I’ve seen “original cast” noted in parentheses after titles of plays on many resumés. Also “world premiere” or “west coast premiere,” when applicable.

Think of your parenthetical additions as “talking points” if you’re in the room. No one may know exactly what “site-specific” means (although they may have an idea), but once you’re in the room, auditioning, it could be the kind of thing that makes them keep you in the room to chat a bit. “So, tell me about this site-specific project. What was that?” That sort of thing. Hope that helps! 🙂

Hi Bonnie,

I enjoy your articles, especially when they relate to kids. I did look at your working actor resumé and compared it to Kyle’s and his is 95% spot on. There are some minor differences. Our header is different in that his name is on the left instead of logo. Nothing in the header middle then agency logo on right w/ phone #. I like your version because it includes lots of agency info on the right, name in center, and logo on right.

Also, Kyle has no theatre credits so instead I listed PSAs and industrials (total of four). This may make you cringe a little bit but wait… one of those PSAs (a network national), listed first, Kyle worked as a principal and was directed by Ron Howard! I thought that would be an awesome name to squeeze in there.

No doubt the format we ended up with was originally based on one of your articles, but I was curious what you think of using the PSA/Industrial category in lieu of theatre?

Thanks,
Fred and Kyle Agnew

Always great to hear from you, Fred. Love that photo you included of Kyle and Ron Howard on the set. Awesome! Yes, I think your format is probably just fine. Especially when you have a big name on your resumé, it’s a “letter of recommendation,” pretty much. Commercial actors who have worked with Joe Pytka, for example, I always suggest include that info on their resumé, even though commercial products and companies are not included due to potential conflicts. There is weight to the name of a director like that, so you definitely want to find a way to include it.

Thanks Bonnie. Very helpful again. I will print it and follow it for my girls. I am thinking about skipping the print and commercial part… thought my girls would be good for print but we have been at Colleen Cler Talent Agency for almost a year and have only have a handful of auditions… maybe it is not for us. They love taking pictures though and can do hours of photo shoots with no complaints.

I would like the girls to try getting an agent for theatrical/TV and give that a shot. They love their classes and want to do this. I also have learned that we have not been doing things right this year, with the way they dress and their headshots… I was told are too pretty for commercials. We have taken four sets of pictures in one year and not one of them is a good one? I guess when they edit it appears they have makeup on. I don’t believe in makeup on kids either. I’ll attach a sample.

The girls thought it was great that you answered us! We have some things to do and change. I am going to follow your resumé guide and see what happens. Thanks so much.

Sincerely,
Gail Watson
Kristen and Ashley’s Mom

Absolutely my pleasure, Gail. Thank YOU for writing in with the question. As you can see from just the small sampling of emails in this week’s Your Turn, the feedback is great and readers from all over are thrilled that your question launched a column that included templates they could use. So, yay!

The photos you sent me definitely look as though the girls are wearing makeup. More importantly, the photos look too posed for what is currently “in,” commercially. They’re studio shots, with studio backdrop and studio lighting. I recommend you take a look through my previous columns on headshots (critiques, good vs. bad, etc.) and look at the samples for what makes a headshot more than just a “good photo.” It’s gotta be a good photo and meet certain criteria for the market, the type (and age) of the actor, and the sort of projects you’re targeting.

Lemmeknow if you have follow-up questions from there. Lots of reading (and looking) to do. 🙂 Luckily, the good folks here at Showfax and Actors Access keep these columns archived, searchable, and free! Yay!


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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001373.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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