10 Essential Skills for Your Acting Resume
A career as an actor can be both rewarding and creatively stimulating. The acting industry is, however, very competitive, so its important to build a diverse skill set to help you stand out to casting directors and other industry professionals. In this article, we list 10 skills that can help your acting resume stand out and explain why they might be useful in your career development.
Related: How to Become an Actor (With FAQs)
What are the benefits of skills for acting?
There are a number of ways you can benefit from developing your skills as an actor. These include:
Public speaking: Among the skills you develop as an actor is the ability to speak clearly and with confidence. This is a skill you can apply in everyday life, whether you are giving a presentation or interviewing for a side job.
Learning: As an actor, you need to be able to memorize lines, remember stage directions and assimilate changes to a script. To do these well you have to be a fast learner, which is also a valuable skill outside of the theater.
Teamwork: Actors often work with other people such as other actors, stagehands, technical crews or makeup artists and costume fitters. Your ability to cooperate with others for the benefit of a project is a skill many employers look for in job candidates.
Flexibility: For an actor, flexibility means being able to play different kinds of characters in different plays, quickly adapting to a change in the script, improvising when another actor goes off-script or working with a new director or unfamiliar actors. This ability to quickly adapt to changing situations is very useful in many work and life situations.
Related: How to Get into Acting
Skills for acting
There are a number of skills you can learn that may help you with your acting career. Consider learning or developing some of the following skills to help improve your chances of getting work as an actor:
1. Listening comprehension
An important skill for an actor is to be able to hear instructions, understand them and act upon them. This begins with being an attentive listener, giving people your full attention when they are talking to you. You can practice this skill in conversation with friends and family and in most other social situations. In your acting career, it can help you respond quickly and effectively to a director's instructions or to be ready when another actor delivers your cue line.
You may be able to enhance your acting skills by developing your creativity in areas other than acting. For example, you could try drawing or painting to help you explore ways to see the world from different viewpoints. This may be useful to you when you take on a new role and you are trying to understand how the character thinks. Also, developing your creativity can help you become more spontaneously inventive, which is useful when you have to improvise.
There are various ways you can improve your ability to communicate, which can help you deliver lines and connect with an audience. For example, you could take opportunities to deliver presentations or host a podcast. Your local community college might offer classes you can take on public speaking or effective communication. Even if you feel your communication skills are good, finding opportunities to practice those skills in other areas aside from the stage may enhance your skill level and help you stand out at an audition.
Learning to dance is an important skill for an actor, opening up opportunities to play characters in musicals and other productions where dancing is required. Dance can also increase your flexibility, tone your muscles, build your stamina and develop your sense of rhythm and spatial awareness. These physical qualities may not only improve your acting performance, but they may also be beneficial for playing certain character roles.
There are multiple benefits to singing that make it a useful skill for actors and one you should consider learning. Singing can exercise your vocal cords, teach you to project your voice and help you overcome inhibitions you may have about performing. Your singing ability might also allow you to audition for parts in musicals, whether as a leading character or as part of a chorus. Learning to sight-sing, which means you can sing a part directly from the sheet music without hearing it first, is also a valuable skill that may help you in your career.
People have been developing techniques for improving memory for centuries. You can find books that teach you some of the best of these techniques, as well as courses both online and in colleges. Training your memory to quickly store information and be able to recall that information when you need it is useful in life to help you remember people's names or important dates. As an actor, improving your memory can also improve your ability to learn lines and remember stage blocking so you can concentrate on giving a quality performance.
Related: 15 Techniques to Improve Memory
Training in gymnastics can be very beneficial to your body strength, flexibility and coordination. It also helps you maintain a good level of fitness, all of which can be useful in your acting career. Being able to move with agility and tumble properly might help you in roles that require a lot of physical activity or stunt work.
8. Martial arts
You may have a number of reasons for taking up Judo, Taekwondo, Aikido, Judo, Kung fu or any of the other popular martial arts. These reasons might include self-defense, exercise, self-discipline or simply for fun. As an actor, learning one or more of these martial arts may also be helpful in your acting career. Martial arts skills play a part in a number of movies and shows, so having some martial arts training can be an attractive addition to your resume. Also, the disciplines you learn through martial arts training could help you manage stress and build your confidence.
9. Foreign language
Not only can you get a lot of personal satisfaction from learning a foreign language, but it could also help your acting career. If you know one or more languages aside from English, you may be able to audition for parts where you would need to speak your second, or third, language. Learning a language is also a good mental exercise and may help you with other skills such as learning lines. When choosing a language to learn, consider Spanish, French or German since they tend to be more popular.
If you don't already know how to drive, you should consider driving lessons. As an actor, you may be required to travel for auditions and performances. You might also have to travel to find work or to work a second job while you are building your career. Once you have your driver's license if you enjoy driving you could take advanced driving or stunt driving lessons to increase the range of your vehicle skills. This might be attractive to directors seeking actors with a high level of driving confidence. You may also be able to earn money doing stunt work.
How to develop acting skills
There are various ways you can develop your acting skills. One method is to take classes. Check your local community college if they offer classes on acting, performance or other related skills. You could also pursue a bachelor's degree in theater or performance.
Another way to develop skills that you can apply to acting is through work experience. While you are developing your acting career, consider looking for work in a field that will help you cultivate skills you could use as an actor. For example, working as a teacher or a substitute teacher requires you to stand in front of people, speak clearly and authoritatively and captivate an audience. Getting a job as an audiobook narrator may help you develop your vocal performance skills.
Tips on developing acting skills
Here are some tips to help you develop your acting skills:
Be a learner. Always be willing to learn something new, whether or not it is directly applicable to acting. The more skills you have, the more you have to offer a casting director.
Read. There are many books available that can give you useful advice and instruction on acting. Also, read plays and good fiction so you become familiar with different writing styles and character types.
Analyze performances. Watch movies or other recorded performances by your favorite actors and study them carefully. This can help you learn techniques that may inform and improve your own acting skills.
Practice. Even if you are not currently rehearsing for a part, find a play and practice it as if you are. Observe your performance in a mirror or record yourself so you can see and hear yourself and look for ways to improve your acting and delivery.
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