Careers Advice and Guidance for Actors

Updated: Feb 1

2020 was unquestionably a hard year for the entertainment industry, and 2021 in some ways feels like Groundhog Day. Gone are the in-person auditions. Self-tapes are now the predominant method of use. The rules of the game of acting have changed and we are all feeling the effects.

As a Career Coach and Talent Manager, I have been asked for industry-related advice on numerous occasions. What follows are some tips from a career guidance perspective on how you can best use your time, to stay productive and help bring some mindfulness into your life.

“Each indecision brings its own delays. And days are lost lamenting over lost days. What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power and genius in it. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Writer and Artist

1: How to Create the Perfect Resume

Are hard copy (PDF) resumes still needed? Yes, they are still of use and are ideal to attachéd to emails when introducing yourself. Ideally, your resumes want to be one page. Think of it as an industry flashcard, to quickly show what you can and have done.

Don't include everything. This is where some people make a mistake. Less is more with a resume. Pick out the most impressive credits and display them. These are the ones which will get you through the door and you can discuss the rest once you are through.

Top tip: if you specialise in more than one area. Then have multiple resumes.

So one for voiceover and motion capture. One for television and film and so on.

Click the link below to download an acting resume template, to help you get started.

Acting Resume Template
PDF • 140KB

Cover Letter Tips:

  • Research the agent or casting director you are contacting before you contact them.

  • Answer the question: Why should they cast or represent you?

  • Make a list of all your career highlights so far and pick 3-4 of the top points.

  • Make a list of all your USP's (Unique Selling Points), and make sure to include some.

  • Keep the length around 3-4 medium-length paragraphs at the maximum.

  • Refer back to any key credits or roles on your resume.

  • Ensure to include a hyperlink to your Spotlight page and reels.

2: Self-Tape Guidelines

For actors experienced with in-person auditions, it can be a challenge to get back into recording your own self-tape auditions. But lockdown is the perfect time to brush up on self-taping skills!

Don't worry about becoming the next Kubrick overnight. Filming your self-tape with a professional camera will naturally create a more professional looking film, but it isn't essential. When self-taping during the coronavirus, you'll want to use the equipment you have in your home. Simply ensure the quality of any camera you are using is clear, and not grainy or blurry, and your video will instantly be more professional.

Test the quality of your audio, as well. The casting director will need to not only see your performance but hear it. If the audio is crackly, it might be difficult to make out your lines.

If you need to use a phone camera, use an app that takes a good quality film. You should also ensure there is no outside interference in the recording.

Most casting directors will not want to hear empty space between your lines, so record with a reader, checking their lines can be heard clearly, yet quietly.

Don't be tempted to use filters or overlays. Directors and casting managers want to see you. Camera effects can make it harder for them to tell if you're right for the part.

Make sure you follow any requirements provided, or you could risk your self-tape immediately going on the rejection pile. Instructions may provide specific requirements for formatting the video, including file size, type and preferred file-sharing method.

Time to up your game? Check out the rest of the self-taping blog post here.

3: A Backup Plan

No matter what industry you are in, it is always important to have a backup plan. If you where not an actor, what would you do instead? Now, this does not mean a step away from acting and give it up, far from it. But by creating other opportunities we take the pressure of getting the next acting job and instead enjoy the process.

Having a backup plan in play, will give you a stronger footing and help ground you. Also, who knows where it may lead or the new connections you could make? Sometimes the best part of life’s journey is the road we never saw coming.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my unused skills/resources?

  • What are my natural talents?

  • What resources are available to me in my environment?

  • How could I use some of these to enhance my life?

  • What ambitions remain unfulfilled?

  • What could I accomplish if I put my mind to it?

  • Which opportunities should I be developing?

Make a list of all your experience and skills aside from acting. Do you have a story you have been wanting to tell? Are you a budding film making, but have yet to take the first step?

Think big! There are no limitations apart from the ones we place upon ourselves.

4: Dealing with Nerves

Confidence and nerves can be linked to a person’s sense of self-worth. Nerves can be caused for many reasons. They can be triggered by feeling like you are not good enough. This can arise from past judgements or criticisms from peers and negative feedback.

It can even be generated by trying to live up to peers, emulating them to the point; we try to be exactly like them. Low self-worth can lead to feelings of inadequacies, which only goes to restrict us further.

Take control of those nerves today and use that energy as a driving force, to help fuel your next audition.

See the article and video on 360 feedback found here for some tips and advice on how to help find some balance.

5: Life’s Lessons

Keep a lesson learned journal. When things don't work out the way you hoped they would. Try not to look at them as a negative. Instead, look at what you can learn and take those lessons and grow.

Sometimes when life pushes back, it's because you are going the wrong way. Feel that push back and look for the energy flow. The flow you feel, when things in life are unfolding easily. Like it was fate and meant to be! This is the energy flow you are looking for in life, as you go forward.

When an audition doesn't go well. It can turn into self-blame. Instead, think about what you can learn from it and do it better next time.

Remember, whats for you, will not go by you.

6: Be Your Authentic Self

Have the courage to be disliked. When you network, audition, meet new people. Go into that room and give it your all. Be who you are and pay no attention to other people’s opinion about you.

Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

No matter what you do life, have faith in who you are, and always be the authentic you.

Let your true self shine

More about actor coaching can be found here