One thing that an Actor can never be assured of in this business is a guarantee that they will obtain work. However, actors should do their best to represent themselves as well as possible to improve their chances, especially when it comes to applying to casting notices online.
Backstage.com is currently set up so that many of the notices that we post can be applied to directly through the website. When an actor applies to a notice, the casting director on the other end is able to view the actor's complete profile. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that an actor's profile looks as professional as possible.
It is essential that you fill out the appearance section at the top of your profile's 'Details' page. This section enables you to note your gender, age range, ethnicity, height, weight, build, hair and eye color. This is especially important as these attributes are how you will be found in our Talent Database by casting directors who may be looking for performers of your type.
If you have any union affiliation, you should also note this in the 'Union Membership' section directly below.
The most basic item you should have on your Backstage profile is a professional headshot. If possible, having 2 or 3 that have some variation is recommended.
Assuming you are an actor specifically looking for acting work in Theatre/Film/TV and other media, you want to make sure that these are professional headshots and not candid shots or selfies. If you are interested in modeling, a professional body shot or half-body shot is also recommended. Avoid headshots of yourself in costume; with vampire fangs, a fake beard, wearing a helmet and goggles, etc. Remember, your profile is your professional calling card and an essential tool en route to your obtaining work opportunities, so you only want to have photos that properly represent you.
If you were a casting director, who would you hire?
Terrible lighting? Check. Messy room? Check. Obscuring sunglasses? Check.
Now look at this professional! Here's someone I want to work with.
Finding a good photographer is key!
If you know other actors and like their headshots, ask for their photographer's website and see if their style works for you and if their prices are amenable. You can also search for photographers in the Resources page of Backstage.com.
For years, the basic must-haves for an actor to have in-hand at an audition have been a headshot and resume. These two items still very much go hand-in-hand when it comes to your online profile. Therefore, as with your headshot, you want to represent yourself well with a neat and concise resume.
While there are subtle variations, generally, resumes should be broken down by category; Theatre, Film, TV, Voice-overs, Special Skills and Education. For your performance credits, you want to have 3 columns from left to right; one for show title, another for character names and then one for production company or venue. You may also include a director's name, perhaps in parenthesis or italics, either next to the show title or production company.
You also want to use discretion with your resume document in terms of not overloading it with out-of date credits; if you're 35 now and did "Annie" at a local theatre when you were 4, this is no longer a useful credit to you.
Your name, contact information (phone, e-mail and website), height, hair and eye color and any union status should be noted at the top of your resume document, as well as any representation you may have.
Credits, Education, & Representation
You will also notice on your Backstage profile that there is an option to enter credits in all media, as well as education and representation. Please note that you are not required to enter your entire resume here. However, it is wise to enter some notable and recent credits in the areas in which you wish to obtain work. The reason for this is that Casting Directors may not always be compelled to download your resume document, but if they instantly see some credits on your profile, that may compel them to look at your full resume and, thus, consider contacting you.
Remember, your profile is not about revealing everything about yourself. It is about creating intrigue in yourself as a professional performer, enough so that you can be considered for projects.
What can only strengthen the quality of your profile is the addition of a Video reel.
In terms of what to include in your video reel, again you want to opt for professional quality. If you have select scenes from film, video or a web series that you've done, that is ideally the kind of material that you want contained on your reel. If you currently have not amassed any such material, then you may want to consider filming a scene from a play, be it a monologue or a scene with another actor - and make sure it is of professional quality.
Also note, when sending in a video audition (meaning a specifically requested video of you reading sides of a provided script), you can get away with filming yourself either through your computer or phone, as long as the video and audio quality are decent. You want to make sure, above all else, that you are seen and heard clearly.
Audio reels are obviously specific to those seeking voice-over work. Similar to a video reel, your audio reel should contain a few of the best samples of your work (be it in commercials, audio book narration, animation, etc.)
If you have some voice-over experience already but do not have audio to use for a reel, you may also consider creating your own professionally recorded audio samples and have them compiled into a professional reel.
The way you may want to pursue this is by, first, listening to professional reels and hearing how one spot flows into the next. You can then consider writing your own Voice-over copy or using existing copy and scheduling time at a studio with an engineer. When editing, you can then discuss with your engineer possibilities for music or sound effects in order to make your spots sound all the more authentic.
It can never hurt to have a casting director or producer know that you have other skills besides acting, so this section of your profile is where you would display just what other skills you possess. While some skills may still be creative-based; singing, dancing, writing, painting - it is also wise to note if you have skills in other realms. For instance, are you athletic? Can you speak another language? Can you drive a tractor? Are you a certified scuba diver? These seemingly unrelated skills may, in fact, prove helpful in your being considered for a specific project.
After entering it, select the skill level using the dots and then click save after each selection. The three dots represent the levels beginner, intermediate and experienced. So if this is a new skill, you might select one dot, if this is a skill you have years of practice doing, you'd select three. You can also edit this at any time! Build those skills!
This section of your Backstage profile is ideal for including a link to your professional website. While you have the option of inputting a link to your social media pages, you want to only include what best represents you professionally. Of all links you can include, a website link is the most important to add here.
Having as complete a profile as possible, especially in the areas noted above, will only better your chances of being considered for work as well as obtaining work.