The casting paper trail is almost obsolete. Gone are the days when a messenger would drop off paper headshots and resumes at a casting office via a crosstown bicycle or van ride. Most casting is now online. Agents can e-mail links for casting directors to see their clients' websites, Vimeo and YouTube videos, and copies of their headshots and resumes.
But for those actors who are just starting out, don’t have agents, and don’t know any industry professionals, it still is essential to introduce yourself by submitting a headshot and resume. With any submission, you should also write a short cover letter. Here are five tips to writing the most effective cover letter.
1. Target your audience. Mass mailings are not as effective as a targeted list of 12-25 potential agents who might be looking for your type. Generally, most agents are not looking for actors at the beginning stages of their careers. So, do your homework. Look them up in Call Sheet or Google them! Then figure out who might be a match. Some offices specialize in representing actors who are athletes, speak another language, have model experience, are over 50, etc. Be sure to find out which department—commercial or theatrical—your prospective agent works in. You'll get more responses if they know you did your research.
2. Make sure your stationary is smaller than 8 ½ x 11. Note size is better than a full-page letter. Why? It doesn't fit to your 8x10 photo and the overlap can become wrinkled or shredded in the mail. Quick Hint: Program the settings in your software so the page is in Landscape format. Make two columns and cut/paste what you say in the first column and put it in the 2nd column. Then cut the paper in half. You now have two duplicate notes that are 5 ½ by 8 ½. Add a small thumbnail photo and your contact info. The size is just large enough to attach with a paper clip. Well done!
3. Keep it short. Get to the point and don't waste a sentence on the obvious. Don't start your letter with "I am an actor and my name is ______ and I'm looking for representation...." Duh! Cut to the chase. They know you’re an actor. Who else would send them a photo and resume? Don't go into exquisite detail about your childhood on the farm in Iowa, your favorite show tunes, and how many character roles you played in junior high. Instead, talk about your type and brand (girl-next-door, quirky neighbor, suburban Mom, beer-drinking dude, Home Depot husband, spy, ivy league college guy). This will tell the agent that you are savvy and know how you will be cast. Also, make sure you share what major roles you played, respected theatre companies you worked with, and established actors you've acted alongside. This is your "hook." If they decide to call you in, it's because they have something to sell when they chat about you with a casting director. "My new client worked with blah-blah who just directed a Broadway show." "My new young client has two network spots she booked in the Midwest so we know she'll do great here. Please see her!" Make sure to address where you are going in the business, not just where you’ve been. What is your "niche"—a Broadway musical, a film, a primetime series, or commercials? If you believe in yourself, they'll believe in you. Express your enthusiasm, your passion, and your clear focus about what you will achieve. They will help you make it happen!
4. Use personality in your writing. "I'm submitting my professional material for your consideration"—No! Try not to sound like you work in the corporate world. Be yourself. Use the language you would when speaking to someone you just met. It's OK to use your own personal expressions—that's who you are! Sign off with a sincere line being you! For example, "From a striking brunette with an infectious laugh, Hope to meet you soon!" or "Can't wait to have a meeting and chat about my fabulous successful future with my fabulous new potential agent—you!" or "You guys are so cool. Can't wait to meet up!" Use your own style. It pays off.
5. Don't threaten to call the agent in a week to follow up. Most agents are busy trying to get work for their current clients and don’t appreciate the interruption of phone calls from actors they don’t know yet. There are exceptions but usually if they’re interested, they will call you. The follow-up phone call doesn't apply to acting. Stop. Don't go there! Instead, follow up with a postcard reminding them that you sent your resume and photo a month before or that now you are in a show or now you booked something. If you tell them something that says, "I'm successful, I’m booking work!" they will respond.
As the founder and executive director of The Actors's Market, Gwyn Gilliss provides free monthly info seminars, agent/casting director interview tele-seminars, weekly marketing tips, as well as many coaching programs to help actors break into both the NY and L.A. industries. Gwyn has tremendous success with her private career coaching clients. More than 90 percent get agent representation launching their careers with performances in feature films, Broadway productions, and Emmy-award-winning primetime TV series, such as "The Good Wife," "White Collar," "Grey's Anatomy," "NCIS," "House," "Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Criminal Minds."
Email her to request a free 15-minute career session: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Creating an application that stands out from all the rest is a major hurdle when applying for a job. Writing a strong cover letter can help you catch the hiring manager’s eye and land that coveted interview. With our actor/actress cover letter example and writing tips, you’ll be well-prepared to craft a competitive application.
- Do examine the job description to get an idea of what characteristics of a desired candidate the company mentions most often. Then, highlight your related skills and experience.
- Don’t use a generic greeting such as dear hiring manager” if you can help it. Look up the name of the hiring manager and address him or her directly.
- Do be creative. In artistic fields such as theater, creativity can pay off. Consider experimenting with the traditional formats for a letter that stands out.
- Do resist the temptation to write about how extremely excited you are to apply for the position. Too much enthusiasm can come across as artificial and may hamper the clarity of your letter’s message.
Actor Actress Advice
Looking to get hired as an actor/actress? You’ll need your acting chops, a great headshot, and of course, an impressive cover letter. The actor/actress cover letter examples below can help you highlight your acting background, impress casting directors, and land you more auditions. Choose from multiple design options to make your cover letter stand out. Get started today!
Cover Letter Tips for Actor Actress
Finding jobs as a Actor Actress doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. Taking the right kinds of action as you begin your job search can take a lot of the difficulty out of the process. Below is a short list of tips to help you with your hunt.
1. Stay positive. Your attitude can boost you or bog you down. Work on developing the ability to handle rejection and roadblocks in a constructive manner.
2. Schedule your search activities. It doesn’t matter whether you create a daily or weekly agenda, so long as you maintain an organizational framework. Applying to numerous jobs as a Actor Actress could become overwhelming if you don’t keep track of what you’ve already done and what comes next.
3. Make the most of your network. Reach out to colleagues, friends and family. They may surprise you with unknown connections or helpful information. Networking could put you in touch with decision makers or make you aware of openings you may not have found on your own.
4. Research employers. Take the time to learn everything you can about companies that catch your interest. Learn about their company cultures and the challenges they face in their industries. Finding out all you can could help make you more competitive and allow you to better demonstrate how you could make a positive impact on an employer’s operations.
5. Talk about your job search every day. Staying accountable is important when engaged in a difficult task. Talking things over with someone also can help reduce your stress and maintain your motivation.
Actor Actress Job Seeking Tips
A quality rÃ©sumÃ© can make you much more competitive, regardless of your targeted industry or position. It’s important to understand the basics characteristics all good rÃ©sumÃ©s share. Here are some helpful pointers.
1. Format your job listings so the reader encounters the details they want to know first. This order is generally preferred title/position, employer, employer location, employment dates.
2. Don’t be afraid to sing your own praises. Featuring your accomplishments provides concrete examples of your potential value to a prospective employer. Rattling off a basic list of job responsibilities is much less meaningful.
3. Employers tend to get a lot of applications, leaving little time to thoroughly consider them all. It has been found that many managers only look at the average rÃ©sumÃ© for about six seconds. It’s important for your rÃ©sumÃ© to be sharply focused so it can make a case for you quickly.
4. Don’t lie. Resist the temptation to embellish your background when you’re hunting jobs as a Actor Actress. Even little white lies” should be avoided. Assume everything on your rÃ©sumÃ© will be checked.
5. Proofread your rÃ©sumÃ©. You don’t want to create the impression that you’re lazy, inattentive or unintelligent. Spend some extra time ensuring your grammar and spelling are beyond reproach.