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Often actors will neglect one of the most important parts of their resume, SKILLS.
We all know that Experience, Professional Training, Education is MAJOR-the main categories that tell the industry you have what it takes to play a role. But WHY is it important to have a STRONG skills section?
Many roles from commercials to Movies require some skill or the appearance of a skill, talent, language or artistic ability. It’s important to let casting directors and your agent know what you can do comfortably.
Athletic Skills – Playing golf, swimming, diving, racing
Kevin Costner really does play golf and did many of his own shots in Tin Cup and the famous Johnny Weissmuller did dive off cliffs and stay underwater a long time in jungle streams for all the Tarzan movies. Paul Newman did drive race cars in a movie as did Jason Statham in The Transporter. Many actors do dangerous sports and stunts in their own projects. But for most action adventure movies there are stand-ins. For casting purposes they still need to know that you are relatively in shape and can move, run and do some “appearing to be dangerous” stuff. If you DO play golf or tennis bring your clubs and racquet to the audition and dress in your best golf shirt or Wimbledon tennis togs.
Dialects and Languages – If a film or series is set in a different country or your character is from there, you DO have to sound authentic. Yes, Meryl Streep and Even Robert DeNiro got expert speech coaching for some roles to learn an accent or get rid of one but it’s great if you’re already skilled in dialects.
Musical talent – Singing, playing an instrument
Sometimes a character will sing, play the guitar or be in a rock band. Kris Kristofferson sang and played in more than one film and of course Barbara Streisand sang in Funny Girl and others. But not everyone remembers that Meryl Streep sang the film’s theme song, Amazing Grace in Silkwood. You might just get hired to sing the theme song or appear within the movie as YOURSELF performing in a cabaret or nightclub.
World Traveler – Can you handle traveling or have a passport?
So many films are shot on location. If you’ve traveled there you’ll be familiar with the language, the customs and will certainly have your passport. I’ve met actors who got smaller roles in adventure films because they had been on safari in Africa, had surfed on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and climbed the Himalayas.
Other hobbies or artistic pursuits
Are you experienced in painting watercolors, sculpting, gardening? These may be part of a character so it’s more likely you’ll be called to play them if you ARE a painter, sculptor or have a real garden. You’ll even have the appropriate paint/mud splattered wardrobe for the audition!
Degrees in other professions- nursing, medical degree, MBA-business
These things will help if they need someone on the set of a Soap as an “advisor” and to speak the jargon/lingo for Corporate videos and in house training films.
How skilled must you be REALLY?
Never lie. Be competent but not necessarily professional in your skill or talent. For example if you’re on a sailboat for a toothpaste commercial you don’t have to “crew” but it might be best if you don’t get seasick easily, especially in close-ups.
If you have to play the piano for a coffee commercial, be able to do so for at least 8 bars. The whole commercial is only 30 seconds so it’s not going to be necessary after that. (I know!)
If you state that you are “conversational or fluid” in a language that might be sufficient for a 30 second commercial or short scenes in a movie. Fluent means you are really up-to-speed.
Any other sport–biking for example–even if the movie is about a 3,500 kilometre bike hike, the Tour de France, you’ll probably have a stand-in. You’re being hired as an ACTOR not a biker. The extras might have to be better than you or actually be real pro’s.
If they want a gold medal Olympic athlete for the movie or TV series they’ll probably hire one or have HIM stand in for your stunts while YOU act. So although you should be “proficient” at your sport or skill you don’t need to be brilliant. Even Ingrid Bergman didn’t play a note in her Academy Award winning role in Intermezzo where she portrayed a concert pianist.
So add all of your talents, skills, sports, languages, dialects and special “activities”-ballroom dancing to salsa and you might just double your auditions and bookings!
write by Jon Brecht