Along with your photograph your CV is the most important tool in your armoury for getting work as an actor.
There are various schools of thought on actor’s CVs and how they should be presented. The following is only an opinion and not a definitive guide. It should be seen as a suggestion on how to construct a professional looking CV for the acting profession.
Keep your CV to one side of A4 – This is generally considered to be a MUST within the industry. There really is no reason why a CV should run to three pages long. Normally everything that needs to be there can fit comfortably onto one page – if during an interview or audition somebody wants to hear more that’s great.
I think it is easier to put together an impressive looking CV if you think of it terms of various headings. These might include:
Personal Information Important details like playing age (playing age vs. age), physical attributes (hair colour, eye colour, physical type etc). This section might also include your spotlight ID (if you have one).
Credits This section should form the bulk of your CV. It is your opportunity to show the work that you have undertaken as an actor and the diversity of your performances. As with any CV it is conventional to list your credits in reverse chronological order (starting you’re your most recent acting job and working backwards). However, if you have credits on your CV that you are particularly proud of and think would make a good talking point in your audition, there is no harm in placing these further up the list. Should you list amateur performances, youth theatre roles, etc? This is a tricky one. If your CV looks sparse without these credits it’s probably best to include one or two you are most happy talking about. I would always include a professional credit over an amateur one. Even if you played the lead in the local musical society’s production of Oklahoma I would still be tempted to leave this out in favour of a smaller professional role. Do not be tempted to lie. There is nothing wrong with presenting the facts in the best possible light, but, if you say you have just completed a BBC drama when in fact you haven’t you will almost certainly be found out.
Further information This is where you should detail things like singing ability, accents you are capable of etc. It is also the place to highlight any special skills you might possess like juggling, acrobatics, horse riding etc. Once again do not be tempted to be dishonest. I know an actor who said he had an HGV licence and was offered a days work on a Scottish Soap Opera. In the episode he was required to drive a truck up the road before getting out the cab to perform a scene. Of course he didn’t have an HGV licence and didn’t confess this until the day of the shoot. This cost the BBC a morning’s shoot and probably did considerable harm to his reputation.
Decoration and Pictures This one is a personal gripe – although I know many directors agree with me here. Adorning your CV with masks of Comedy and Tragedy, or theatrical curtains etc is (in my humble opinion) tacky! It can only look amateurish. It is a bit like a doctor decorating his CV with a stethoscopes and medical crosses. Keep you CV elegant and professional. Look at it this way, you more likely to offend somebody like myself who hates it, than disappoint somebody who likes this type of thing by its absence.