#2 Stop Being Boring.
Since you majored in the poetry / color / textures / rhythms / nuances of human behavior & thought & emotion; since your desire to tell stories & speak with your authentic voice is what you're making a career out of, & since you walk around with a mac like you know how to use it, get your mitts out of that accountants' program, Microsoft Word, open up Pages, & FULLY REIMAGINE all the things that represent professional-artist-YOU in the world. Your reel. Your website. Your business card. YOUR RESUME.
Thesps! This one makes me nuts. Actors who want to take my class send a resume, with a request to audit a class. If the auditor & likes the class & if I like your resume, we schedule an informal 20 - 30 minute session at my home studio for me to get to know you & vice versa. I've done scores of these. I never, ever planned to start these off with a resume critique. I don't want to do a resume critique! But, bloody hell! It always is. Both design & content, I look at what I see & I feel like I'm back in 1971. I won't even get into content errors. But in the meantime: life-or-death design stuff first:
Please, PLEASE don't let see another resume in TIMES NEW ROMAN!
I dare you, I double dare you: show me you've found some super-imaginative way to assert that TNR epitomizes all that is YOU. Does it? Really? Or is it just the default font you were too lazy to change?
Does it even matter? Well, ask yourself ⎼ Is everything in our field supposed to look alike, or be different? Be boring, or stand out? Is your resume a reflection of your taste, creativity & professionalism? Or does it say "generic, mediocre & amateur?" Maybe it doesn't matter after you get that first series, that influential agent, & a certain amount work under your belt. But before that, (& I would say even after) THERE IS NOTHING THAT DOES NOT MATTER. Have you forgotten how ferociously competitive it is out there, Thesps? You can't afford NOT to take every chance you get to reveal yourself as inimitably YOU. You can't afford not get noticed.
But you know what's worse? It's not really that you're lazy or uncreative, right? Because you're not! (I know you!) It's that you're afraid of being "wrong." You'd rather do it boring than do it wrong ⎼ right?!? (coming up soon: STOP BEING AN "A" STUDENT.) But see, if you don't want to take any chances with your resume design, or your business card, or your website ⎼ that says something to people out there about you. About how you approach the work. It says something, can you imagine, about your values & your character. It gives those of us who look at resumes something to make a snap (positive or negative) judgements about. Because remember, there's no science to this thing we do, no quantifiable criteria, no money-back guarantees. Casting, agents, directors make choices based most of all on gut instincts.
THE REST OF THE WORLD IS DOING IT RIGHT. ACTORS, WHY ARE WE STILL IN THE 1970'S?
When you lay claim to the artist you are, THE WAY YOU DO ONE THING IS THE WAY YOU DO EVERYTHING. The way you cook a meal, observe people on the street, arrange furniture, throw a party, work on a role, put together a resume ⎼ all these hum the tune of unmistakable YOU. The way you do big things & small things throws a trail of evidence right & left about who you might be a creative force. & then the 39th time that resume with the bit of orange text & that picture of you age 5 lined up among your alternate head-shots on the paper side & the little blurb at the end about your quest to find the best cotton candy finally ... lands. She sees it. She calls you in. She sees YOU. FOR THE PART.
Yeah, everything else has to be there, too. If you could list at the top of your resume an M.D. in Brain-Surgery-Acting from Johns Hopkins, whoa, be my guest, flaunt that Times New Roman! Those kind credentials speak for themselves. But in this go-by-the-gut biz? Forget it. You got a pretty face, a few nice credits & some good training? Hello. So does everyone else. Give me something, anything, to distinguish you from the others. Good headshot, great. Worked with someone I admire, great. & . . . come on, come on, one more little thing that reflects your aesthetic, please.
ps ⎼ This is NOT FOR THEM. IT'S FOR YOU. For it to work, It has to be like PLAY. Because if it's a chore, that's the energy it carries with it as it soars out into the world. Flex your creative muscles every chance you get, build them strong, build your creative aura (or, the dirty word, brand) with the same joy as working on the role of a lifetime. IT'S ALL ONE.
Here we go. Pretend you're six years old with the manual dexterity of a 25 year old. Your teacher says: I want you to think about what symbol is "you" ! what color is "you" ! what lettering style is "you" ! what kind of paper is "you?" ! Now ⎼ take out your crayons & go for it. Make a big mess & a big noise along the way. Let fly. Ta-da! Hey, world! Here's the first glimpse of that thing of beauty & light that is YOU!