Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Special Skills "How-To"

All actors are aware of a section on their resume titled, "Special Skills." But what is the point of this section? And what kind of skills should be listing on there? First and foremost, the special skills section was created as a way to tell the casting director/agent/producer what skills you bring to the table that would be useful while on stage or on set. In addition, this section to allow actors to provide a unique snapshot (albeit a small one) of what makes them enjoyable to work with. After all, most of the time the resume is read before the actor is even met, so having a way to show one's personality is very important to help the actor stand out from the crowd (or the stack.) But how do we know what is appropriate to list? Here are some rules of thumb:

· Do make sure that the skill listed is something that can be demostrated on stage or film. For example: singing, juggling, stage combat. Do not list things like: drive a stick shift, have US Passport, etc. You'll rarely be driving a car on film (or on stage for that matter) and having a passport is not a skill. Moreover, that type of information if not usually a factor in casting- it is an logistical issue that is handled after the actor has been cast.

· Do make sure that the skill listed is something that you can execute flawlessly and immediately. Don't list an accent unless you are ready to improv with it on command. If you cannot do it off the top fo your head, but you are good with accents, list instead, "Quick study with accents." Often times, a casting director will ask you to perform the skill right in the casting session. Make sure you can do it, and do it well.

· Do include both theatrical and non-theatrical skills. List the ones that are specific to the industry first (accents, singing, dancing, etc.) and the list others afterward (sports, hobbies, etc.) You never know who behind the table might hare your demonstratable hobby (like crocheting or body building.)

· Do infuse some of your personality into the list. Do you have a "stupid human trick" like being able to touch your tongue to your nose, or that you can recite the alphabet backwards in 10 seconds? As long as it is something than can be demonstrated on set or stage, and it can be done flawlessly, why not list it? But just limit this to one or two skills, and list them at the end.

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

2 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you could help me with my resume. i am not sure what exactly to put or where to put it. If you could e-mail me at i would so appriciate it. If not its fine and Thank You for you time.

Erin Cronican said...

Hi, Lindsay! How are you? I also sent this response via email... I would be very happy to give you a general idea of how to do a resume. Just let me know what you'd like to know and I'll help you in whatever way I can. If what you need is more specific, you can hire me to put together your resume for you (though you probably will be just fine with general instruction.)

Can't wait to hear back from you!

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