Acting industry / Applications

How to create an effective CV for the acting industry

Hannah Williams is the UK Casting Specialist for Backstage, with years of experience in production and casting. Here she offers some important tips to help you create the type of CV that will help you stand out and make an impression with casting directors.

What does a good online CV look like?

Your online profile should be clear and not overcrowded, listing out and showing your best work and experience/training. You should have your basic information about yourself including height, location(s), playing age (not actual age) plus any specific skills and languages. The more you include on your CV, the more you will be searchable on Backstage so make sure its kept up to date. That being said, only include relevant experience and professional credits where possible. Acting in your high school’s year 9 play doesn’t need to go on there, nor does your job in a coffee shop. If you don’t have any credits yet, don’t worry! Just make sure you have some well shot footage of you performing on your profile and let that speak for your talent. If you don’t have anything already filmed, shoot a monologue or a self tape & upload that. 

First impressions are so important. Your CV needs to create a positive impact, often in under 30 seconds!

What pictures should I upload?

Again, keep it simple and the images as professional as possible. We want to be able to see you but it’s also a good idea to upload a few different images which could give little nods to you being a few different ‘types’. If you can’t afford professional headshots right now, don’t worry – just have someone take photographs of you in a well lit area (I think natural light is always best), in portrait orientation where we can see your head and shoulders with not a lot of empty space up and around the top of the frame. I would steer away from overly edited images and anything with harsh lighting. 

Would an acting CV be essentially the same for TV/theatre/film?

Yes! On Backstage you can mark what type of production the credit is that you are inputting and this will organise them neatly on your profile. On a CV document, I would separate the credits out into theatre/film/TV/commercials 

Should I include a ‘personal profile’ and an image on a document CV?

If you are creating a document of your CV, I think it’s a good idea to include a headshot and a short personal profile of 2 or 3 sentences with highlights of your experience and/or training. If you are sending your CV as an attachment to an agent or a casting director, it’s always a good idea to attach the CV and a seperate, low res file of your headshot. Always make sure you rename any files you are sending to anyone with your name and what it is so people can identify you very quickly when they download those files. For ease of viewing, sending your online Backstage profile instead of attaching lots of documents always helps the process so send that instead or as well when you’re sending through your info. 

Should it be 1 or 2 pages?

This depends on the amount of work you have done! If you are just finishing up your training, I would say you don’t need more than one. Later in your career you will probably need to spill over into 2 pages.

Should I include a cover letter and if so, what should that look like?

Your cover letter is an opportunity to demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm for the role you are applying for

If you are contacting an agent or casting director via email, always include a covering letter. Keep it nice and short and concise and specific to what/who you are applying to. Make it thoughtful and that you understand who you are contacting and why you are contacting. If you are applying for a job on Backstage, I would always recommend adding a line or 2 as a covering letter/note. This could draw their eye to your profile and shows that you are submitting yourself thoughtfully and could explain why you’re suited or why you want to be involved which could help. 

If you are a University of Warwick student free Backstage membership is currently available and Hannah has also kindly also set up free use of Backstage for anyone who wants to post a casting. They can do this by filling in their casting breakdown on the post a job page and using the promo code WARWICKCAST at the checkout. 

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