Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

Everyone is craving to relate to Casting Directors, Producers and Directors more.

Are you compromising your professional presentation package because of the digital sign of the times?  Do you consider yourself just a face?  If you want Casting Directors, Producers and Directors to know something about you, I am urging you to think of yourself  as more than just a face.  Have your picture and resume with you on hand.

An actor who shows up with no picture, and certainly no resume, just thinks of themselves as a face and is showing a lack of professional respect for themselves. They are also showing disrespect for the Casting Director by assuming that he casts just by a look.

I had the experience recently of spending time outside one of my audition rooms meeting, greeting and organizing actors to go into the studio. Upon asking for the picture and resume, some actors replied “it’s on line, I didn’t think you would need it”, “you can get it on line”,  or “I’m never asked for it.  Why would you need it,  it’s on line”.  Online is in a computer, in cyber space, someplace else.  The element of personal, here and now, of that moment became non-existent. 

All actors should know having their 8×10 and resume with them gives them a competitive edge over the person who does not have one.  The actor who did not give me an 8×10 was a face to me and nothing else.  The actor who DID give me their picture and resume created an opportunity for themselves.  I looked at their resume and had a short conversation with them regarding something I saw on their resume, whether it be a TV show they were in, film, theatre or special skill.  The resume gave the person standing in front of me a life and became more than just a face and a look. The actor who feels that it’s good enough for a Casting Director to refer to them on line is losing the opportunity to provide relevant information and have face-to-face communication in the moment.

At callbacks, we definitely collect your 8×10 and resume, attach it to the size card and bring it with us as we escort you into the audition room and proceed to lay it in front of the Director.  This again, gives me the opportunity to quickly glance over your resume. Many times looking at the resume for the few moments outside the room inspires a nice conversation about YOU.   I promise you at some point in that callback room the Director, Writer or Producer will turn your photo over out of curiosity to see who you are and what you are all about.  They are generally curious people and are interested in more than a face.

How do I, as a Casting Director, read your resume?  What resonates?  Let’s start with someone who might be reading this who thinks this does not relate to them because they have a weak resume.   Even special skills can stimulate a conversation.  From your special skills, we know something about you.  I find it easier to read your special skills if you list them alphabetically.  Recently, I was looking for joggers.  When someone had 15 special skills listed, it took a long time, and a lot of effort,  to suss out the mention of jogger.  The ones that were listed alphabetically were easy for the eye to go right to “jogger”.  When you have 1050 resumes to look at, it is very much appreciated to find ease and speed in the process.

Moving on to talent who has a nice substantial resume, I always look at theatre.  Theatre represents commitment.  I look for what kind of theatre you were in (musicals, drama or comedy) to, again, get more of an idea as to who you are.

I also look for television, drama or sitcoms.  And I look for training.  Your resume should reflect your strong points.  Improv is very appealing as it represents thinking fast on your feet and creativity. Don’t put your social security number or your address on the resume.  Certainly your agent, manager, cell phone and e mail address should be listed.

I thought some actors were not bringing their picture and resumes for commercials because it’s “just a commercial”.  I was surprised to hear that the internet has compromised some actors in theatrical situations too.

Acting coach, Joseph Pearlman, has some expertise and has this to say. “ As a theatrical acting coach, in daily contact with the industry’s top Casting Directors, I receive a lot of feedback. It seems that, more and more, actors are showing up to auditions without a hardcopy of their picture and resume. For theatrical auditions, you must ALWAYS show up with a hardcopy of both picture and resume, stapled together. It’s a mistake to assume the Casting Director has your picture and resume on line. That hardcopy is an essential visual reference for the Casting Director’s session. If you arrive with just a picture and no resume, the Casting Director will think you don’t take yourself seriously. Both are required. A clean picture resembling you, and a well-rounded resume are the tools of your trade. Prepare your car trunk: suit, dress, portfolio, etc… Knowing the possibilities for that day and preparing for them is your job. Theatrical auditions require the highest degree of professionalism because the Casting Director wants to see what you’ll be like on set. Cultivate these good professional habits and you’ll separate yourself from the herd. In my experience, the difference between good and great is a very small amount. The little extra effort, professionalism, patience and attention prior to and during the audition will make an enormous difference. The Casting Director will go with the more professional actor 100% of the time.”

So actors, it’s up to you.  If you want the competitive edge, here’s one area that you can have it for sure.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”

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