Actors aren’t asked for bios as often as they’re asked for a headshot, resumé, or demo reel, but the need does come up now and then, so let’s get down to how to make your bio awesome. That way, when you place it in a program or on your website, in your one-sheet or in the footer of your cover letter, at social networking sites or even in the bio section of your IMDb page, you’re proud to show it off!
You may also want to review some things I’ve said about bios and the “about me” section on actor websites in the various archived columns here about those tools. And if you’re hankering to read a bunch of really amazing bios, go to the website for Your Actor MBA. Those bios are all amazing because I edited them to be so. Exactly two of them came to me in perfect form. I sent thank-you notes to the two people who turned in those bios.
Now that you’ve done all that, here are the phrases I never, never, never want to see on your bio.
“From the tender age of…”
“…literally since birth…”
“…born to act.”
“…the stage was calling.”
“…passion for theatre.”
“…Hollywood was calling.”
“…to name a few.”
That “…to name a few” thing is when you’re listing credits. We know you’re only naming a few. It’s a bio, not an IMDb page. I’d also really love it if you’d never launch into a list of projects by saying, “projects like…” and then listing them. No. You didn’t book projects LIKE CSI and 90210. You actually booked THOSE projects. So say so. We like that.
Your bio isn’t about other people, so please do your best not to mention that your coach is world-renowned or that you shared the screen with a laundry list of name actors. They’re not putting your name in their bio. Don’t you rely on them to jazz up yours either.
If you choose to write your bio in third-person, that’s fine, but stick with it. Don’t suddenly change to first-person part of the way through the bio. Same with choosing to refer to yourself by your first name or last name after the very first mention (where you use first and last name together). If you then start using your first name, stick with that. Don’t suddenly start referring to yourself by your last name later in the bio.
Proofread, proofread, proofread. No, really. Proofread. This ain’t your latest blog post. It’s your bio! I’ve become truly appalled at the intelligent people out there using the wrong it’s or its, using then when they mean than, even creating words like “I’s” (trying to be proper, saying “Steve and I’s new play…” I suppose). *shudder* Guys, really. I know you’re absolutely certain you remember everything from grammar school. You probably don’t. You say “use to” instead of “used to” or “should of” instead of “should have.” Please, consider spending quality time with Grammar Girl or visiting my favorite rule-by-rule checklist. You’ll be surprised what you’re sure you know… and don’t know after all.
And then have someone proofread your bio. Pretty please. I was shocked to see a bio in which a top exec at one of the most important companies in this industry used the phrase “segue way” (because I guess this person didn’t know that the word segue is pronounced “seg-way”) and NO ONE mentioned it, despite that bio having been in front of many recipients and certainly a team of assistants over the years. Don’t wait to show off your bio as if it’s a done deal. Let someone look it over while it’s in draft form. Ideally, you’ll choose someone with a degree in English.
If you find you’re asked for bios more than once in a blue moon, consider offering up several different bios at various lengths at your website so you can point folks to one handy link and let them grab the one that’s the length they need without you constantly having to edit something down for each request. (See my bios on the Cricket Feet website for an example.)
Most of all, your bio should bring your personality to the surface. We should not feel like we know you less after reading it. We should really get you, ideally. Of course, you’ve got a lot of info to pack into a brief little “about me” sketch, and bio writing is almost no one’s favorite thing to do as it is, but if there’s a way to give us a really good sense of who you are (in your writing style, word choice, etc.), that’s awesome.
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Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001252.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.