Yes, we’re back for more of your beautiful critiques. Thank you, fine folks, for jumping on the opportunity to have your goods assessed. I’m loving your feedback on what we’ve already done, and my inbox continues to overflow with submissions (hang in there, folks. I’m getting to you).

You may recall that last week, we started off with Janna Morrison, and I had pledged not to read her follow-up email ’til after reviewing her materials. I kept to my word! Here’s the follow-up.


A little bit about me:

Janna Morrison: Michigander, performed in USO shows, 1st musical (age 6) at local high school, Shakespeare (age 7) at The University of Detroit. I was hooked. Nonunion summer stock, dinner theatre (get AEA card while in college). Musical in LORT theatre. Moved to NYC. Background work in film and television. Scene study & voice coaching.

Agent. Auditions… primarily musicals… & callbacks. Always a bridesmaid. Actors didn’t have business savvy about branding that they do now. And people just didn’t know what to do with me. (See attached 1979 8×10, a good pix, but I always felt an affinity to the 1979 alt picture attached.)

Now it is years later… married with kid in college. My turn!!! Think I’ve been a character-actor-in-training all this time… so will start with that.

Understand BRANDPROV article, but confused how to apply concept. My dilemma: Strongly define who I actually am… or “create brand” focus to support casting expectations, i.e., current terminology for typecasting?

I tend to overthink. Can you tell I’m a thinker?

What else may I tell you…? Think I better stop now.

Janna Morrison

Awesome, Janna. One of the biggest struggles for actors who hit young is that they started out when branding wasn’t an issue (younger actors don’t have as narrow a bullseye as actors who start as adults) and they got cast without any of the “stuff” that they now have to start managing.

As Mark Atteberry says, your type is what you tell the world you can play; your brand is what the world tells you it thinks about you. So, let yourself off the hook for figuring out your brand. You’ll get there. So don’t fret about “creating brand.” Your fanbase is already there, your best-matched roles are clear, and you can begin to narrow your focus based on how you’d like to teach the industry to cast you NEXT.

Now, let’s start off this week’s new critiques with Amanda Good Hennessey’s website!

Hi Bon Bonnie!

Thanks so much for your generosity re: offering to do these critiques and also in terms of all the valuable info in your newsletters and blog. Your descriptions of people and situations also crack me up.

I just remembered that I have already indirectly benefited from your critiques.

I feel like browsing the Internet is kinda like a choose your own adventure experience. And one day, my combination of clicks led me to your archives, where you had recently given great feedback to a guy I know (who had just moved to LA) re: his resumé.

I took note and gave mine an overdue makeover. So thanks! 🙂

I would love your feedback on my website.

Thanks so much!


Nice looking site! I think it’s great that the news in the sidebar is up-to-date (after a gap) and that your reel is right there for us to watch with a click. I’d shorten the number of news items that appear in the sidebar, though. Also, while I generally love a Twitter feed on a main page (and I certainly understand getting passionate about issues), current events and political stances can really work against you, as an actor, sometimes. Loads of “unfollows” come after someone who is known for one thing starts “getting political,” like someone whose brand is all about technology loses followers when she becomes a new mom and starts tweeting to her tech audience about pumping.

No, that’s not to say you can’t be yourself! If you’re stirred by an issue, own that! Just be sure it’s on-brand for you to keep that flow of opinions piped into your official, professional, actor-brand website (vs. at your personal, private Facebook page, let’s say). You never know the politics or positions of the buyers on whose radar you’re hoping to pop. Be sure your social networking presence aligns with how you hope to be cast. It’s one thing to be the face of PETA after you’re a name actor, but quite another to be seen as someone who may stage red-paint-throwing fur protests by a network exec who’s got his list of series regulars down to you and someone he won’t have to bail out of jail.

Love that your bio includes a printable option, and I’d just tweak the text to not have that one hanging line below the photo (either add text to beef that paragraph up or shorten it to end before the break to a new line). Ditto loving the printable option for the resumé and headshot. Great thumbnail gallery for vid clips and of course your voiceover reel.

I would adjust the menu item of “media” to “press,” since, to me, “media” could just as easily mean vids, audio files, photos, and such. If you’re stuck on the word, maybe make the menu item “Amanda in the Media” or something more accurately descriptive of what’s there on the page.

Overall, a really clean, really good site. I’d love a little more “youness” to it all (it feels a little template-y, for me). Like, whatever you’re most passionate about, let’s have that “read” in your site. From the font to the colors to the images… let’s really GET YOU rather than just get your info. 😉

Next up, a non-actor website from actor Rashmi Rustagi.

Hi Bonnie,

I just want to thank you for writing so diligently. Besides acting, I write a food blog and produce cooking videos as a “thank you” to the Universe and know the patience required to sit down and write. Will continue to read your columns and be inspired!

Rashmi Rustagi

Rashmi, thank you! 🙂 So, why am I taking a quick look at your non-actor blog? Because it’s awesome. The food photos make me hungry and your mouse-over social networking tools are just lovely. Because an actor is always more than just an actor (as Crista Flanagan explained, “you’re a great actor AND…”), I wanted to celebrate this really great site that promotes your survival job, your non-acting passion, and your heritage. Well done!

Now, you know I love a good bio. 😉 Let’s do some tweaking with Tamika Simpkins.

Would love your brilliant eye on my bio. As you know, having difficulties talking about myself. That is, without a mind-altering substance involved. LOL 🙂

“Tamika Simpkins, a Philadelphia native and home of the best cheese steaks in the world, is a true geek at heart. She holds degrees in Computer & Info Science and African-American Studies. If you know Tamika, you know that she truly embodies the title of renaissance woman. She has been successful as a Computer Consultant, Web Site Developer, Casting Associate, Actress, Writer and Editor. Even with all of these various talents, her heart will always live as an artist. Dancing and acting since she was a young child, Tamika never let go of her passion for performing. One of Tamika’s mottos is, ‘Never Give Up 5 Minutes Before the Miracle’. Her powerful presence, personality and infectious laugh make her a joy to be around, not to mention her awesome macaroni and cheese. In 2006, at the constant persistence of three friends, Tamika ventured to Los Angeles to truly fulfill her dream as an actress and filmmaker. Notable theater credits include: Wole Soyinka’s ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’, award nominated, ‘Black Women: State of the Union’ and ‘The Vagina Monologues. Notable television credits include ‘Southland’, ‘Shameless’, ‘The Wire’, ‘The Shield’. She can be seen in the upcoming feature film, ‘Saving Lincoln’, starring Tom Amandes.”

I’m gonna embrace the fear and move forward. Hopefully it’s not too late. :/

Thank you, Tamika. You know I’m always your fan. Good for you, embracing the fear and getting your bio in such good shape that you can use it regardless of cocktail level. 😉

First off, your “voice” is a bit all over the place, in this bio. Just looking at grammar, you start the first sentence with YOU, and then you describe yourself as a Philly native *and* as HOME of the best cheesesteak. Oops. Of course, you mean that Philly is the home of the best cheesesteak, but that’s not the way you’ve worded this.

While the degrees (lower case, for CIS and the S in studies, is standard) are interesting, they’re introduced WAY early on in the bio, and if this is an acting bio, you could probably bring these academic items up later (if at all). “If you know Tamika” is superfluous. I’d start that with “Tamika personifies ‘Renaissance woman,’ due to her success as a writer, editor, computer consultant, website developer, and casting associate.” Leading off with the more creative items is better for an acting bio, but truly, including ANY of these non-actor/non-creative items just steers people toward losing sight of what it is you’re hoping to teach them about you, which is that you’re a badass actor who also writes, produces, edits, and geeks out with the best of the techies.

I’d lose everything in the “always live as an artist, since she was a young child, and passion for performing” area, because those are clichés and they don’t tell me about YOU. Find the way you would say all of that over drinks. START from there. Then tweak. 😉

I love the “miracle” motto, and you can probably get that in there sooner, and without all the capital letters (it’s not a book title, it’s a motto). Love, love, love the “powerful presence, personality, and infectious laugh” line, but then you switch back over to a food thing, and like before, it muddies up the focus of the bio. If you want to keep it, make it a part of the series: “Her powerful presence, personality, infectious laugh, and awesome macaroni and cheese recipe make her a joy to be around.” Boom.

I’d get rid of the “constant persistence of three friends” and save that for the story you tell while on the sofa during one of the late night talkshows. “To truly fulfill her dream” is another one of those clichés I’d 86. “Notable” should be used only once, so choose whether it’s for theatre or on-camera, and make the other modifier something else. Your commas make me unsure which theatre credit is the award-nominated one, so let’s take away the ambiguity. Add “and” before “The Shield,” and let’s be sure you want to give space in your bio to Tom Amandes — and if you do, certainly don’t end on his name. 🙂 It’s *your* bio and shouldn’t end on another’s note.

Let’s keep working on this. I love that you put it out there and I know that’s terrifying. We need to work toward a bio that feels just as delightful to send out as it does to say, at a networking event. We’ll get there! 🙂

Next up, goodies from Carolyne Gallo.

Hey Bonnie!

Recently I met you at the SAG Foundation seminar in NYC and I love getting your newsletter! Some days it’s exactly what I need to give me a boost!

Here are my current resumé and headshot attached and the link to my website.

I just updated all of them and am now waiting for a clip for my reel but I couldn’t resist getting your feedback.

Thank you so much in advance! I love your energy and keep on doing what you are doing. Us artists need you.

Love and light,

Carolyne Gallo

Thanks, Carolyne. Oh, how I loved my time in New York this year! Cannot wait to come back. Thank you for the fab feedback on the newsletter. So glad to hear it’s something you enjoy receiving each week. 🙂

Let’s start with your resumé.

First off, this came in as a Word Doc, and it bumped to two pages. For sure, a one-page resumé is standard, and sending the file as a PDF ensures you are delivering what you intend, visually (this will also fix the ragged tab-stop in the first regional theatre credit’s third column).

Obviously, this is a NY-based resumé with all the delicious theatre up top. Nice! You’re missing the E at the end of the word “premiere” on a couple of credits, and when we get to your film credits, go with just billing (leave out the character names altogether). Get a little more specific with the level of proficiency on your special skills and I think we’re good to go, here!

Moving on to your headshot: It’s cute! I like it and I feel like I get you, especially after poking around your website and checking out your resumé. It’s got that lovely youthful feel and the backlighting matching with your top is really nice for your brand.

The font you’ve chosen for your website is really good for you. Colors too. You’ve put thought into this look and it’s working. Love all the reviews on the landing page. Your gallery of headshots is nice, but the “about Carolyne” item is one of those overdone things (seriously, “quirky” is something that should READ in everything else, not be told to anyone, ever) that I think could give you a lot more power, if you were to get more specific about what you bullseye.

Big fan of the PDF downloadable resumé, same note as above about the E in premiere at the web-based version of the resumé, love your understated but confident playwright tab, and want you to keep your *news* page updated more frequently, if you’re gonna offer it up. Overall, really great stuff!

Wow! Is it me, or is this a new generation of smarter, more brand-savvy actors? Love it!

What’s going on with Alexander Nguyen’s resumé? Let’s find out!

I want to spruce up/reformat my resumé but don’t know where to start. Feel free to gut as much fluff as you want.

You got it, Alexander! 🙂 First, update SAGe to say “SAG-AFTRA-eligible” since we’re in a post-merger world. Unless you’re exclusively targeting theatre, since you’re LA-based, I’d consider flipping your on-camera and on-stage sections, just for the purpose of focusing the attention of those who are checking out your goods.

Also, in the billing for your on-camera work, add the D on the end of “featured” to make it consistent with the adjectival state of the other billing in the section. Finally, in your languages and dialects, if your English is accent neutral, you may want to mention that, since your fluency with so many other languages could make folks want to know the answer to that question.

Overall, not much fluff to cut! I’d love to see you add some personal contact information or at least your URL, Actors Access link, etc. Thank you for sending this over.

Tara Christopher is next up.

Hi Bonnie!

I’m thrilled you’re offering this service for your email newsletter subscribers!

I’d love to get your feedback on my resumé & my 1st bio I wrote recently for a show I was in which is the attached file.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I wish you a wonderful Xmas holiday & a fabulous start to the New Year!!!

Hugs & Jolliness,

Tara Christopher 🙂

Awesome! Thanks, Tara. On your resumé, I love that you’re not afraid of the white space. You may want to add in a “mini me” headshot on one of the corners since you have room to spare. But it’s fine, even if you don’t.

In the film section, I’d love to know if the names in your third column are directors or producers (and it’s fine if there are some of each, just label ’em), and in your TV section, go for billing in that middle column, rather than describing the role you played.

I’d get specific about the type of training you’ve had at each of these places, and also about the level of proficiency with your athletic skills. Love the personality items in your special skills. I may flip those to be after the training and athletic skills, just to end on the fun stuff.

Amazingly, I have no notes on your bio. I love it. Even the items that may seem a bit like “go-to” ones on a bio work with yours, because there’s no clutter here. It’s simple. It’s straightforward. It works!

Let’s turn our attention to Kate Dylan.

Hi Bonnie!

I’d like my headshot and resumé critiqued please. And thanks so much for helping an East Coast girl like myself out!

Kate Dylan

All right, east coast girl! 🙂 I want to see some teeth in your headshot. Not because that’s a requirement, but because — in this particular shot — it looks like you’re hiding bad teeth or large gums or something else. It’s weird. I’ve poked around on the Internet to see that you do, in fact, have a gorgeous smile and I think something just a little more relaxed in the mouth, here, would be much better for you. Funny thing, here, I don’t hate the brick wall behind you (and it’s usually a pet peeve, for me). The focus on it is, well, NOT. And that’s great. It’s just kind of there, not used as a line of focus for the photographer, so it’s giving good texture and I’m on board with this shot except for the mouth tension.

Now, for your resumé, love the mini me, the contact info, and that you sent this as a PDF. Strangely, though, it showed up with some ragged tab stops, and that’s something that you should be able to control, when sending a PDF, right? Great combo of film and new media, using an asterisk to draw attention to an award, and the only thing I want is more about your personality. Don’t overdo it, but give me something fun in your skills. Something very you. Cool?

Finally, it’s Jennifer Alexander’s turn.

Hello Bonnie,

My name is Jennifer Alexander, and I had the privilege of hearing you speak in Chicago earlier this year at the CAFM (Chicago Actors in Film Meetup) monthly meeting. Your stealth advice and genuine passion for what you do was incredibly inspiring. I haven’t missed a BonBlast since!

I get so jazzed up every Tuesday when I read your ninja tips, and I’ve even been applying them in areas of my life beyond acting, so thank you for all the wisdom and inspiration.

I’m writing today to submit my website to be considered for your next round of critiques. I know there is room for making improvements, and I welcome any feedback that you have. The address is:

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to the next BonBlast, and to hopefully seeing you in person again soon!


Jennifer, thank you. I swear, that CAFM event was probably one of my top ten all-time favorite speaking engagements worldwide (and that’s saying something)! It was a magical night and I’m thrilled that you’ve enjoyed the BonBlasts since hopping on the list. I cannot wait to get back to Chicago for another round of badassery — and I love knowing the advice is helpful beyond the acting pursuit. Thank you for making me feel so dang at home, there! 🙂

Looking at your website, I adore that you’ve got a very subtle vocal wave pattern behind your name in the header. What a lovely message to the voiceover community (and a subliminal one to everyone else)! Well done! Love the “follow me” box as an option for subscribing for updates.

I think the sidebar of headshots throughout the site is pretty dang ninja. And you know I’m gonna say that anything called NEWS must be updated regularly, because people who want news want news! 🙂 Sporadic updates should be labeled as such. 😉

I’m just a fan of the whole site. Great stills peppered throughout without being overwhelming. Direct contact form plus your agency info. The resumé is a *little* harder to find than I would like, if I were visiting your site for that purpose, but that’s a minor issue, when compared to how much I feel like I’m hanging out with you, when I visit your site.

Dang, y’all keep impressing me with your goods. I *love* this! And I’m thrilled to get to showcase your badassery here. More next week! Thank you for your submissions and, as always, keep rockin’ it out, you beautiful people!

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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