What Special Skills are Casting Directors Seeking?
In previous article, we’ve discussed the importance of including “special skills” on your acting resume. Sometimes, these skills can be your ticket to standing out to a casting director, especially if you don’t have a lot of professional experience. When a casting director has hundreds of resumes and headshots to review, your special skills can tip the scales and land an audition. But actors should be aware that not all special skills are created equal.
On your resume, your special skills should have relevance. Filling the space with useless tidbits in an attempt to stand out could cause more damage than benefit. If your acting toolkit is missing key skills, you may want to consider seeking training to boost your qualifications. Here is a list of special skills that have great value and relevance.
Combat and Sports
Almost every production has some form of action in it. For a young actor to be physically fit is imperative—just being on set all day requires stamina. But if you are cast in a high-action TV series or film, knowing how to engage in combat on-screen effectively, without getting hurt or hurting others, is a valuable skill. Additionally, an understanding of how to play many different sports or other physically demanding tasks will help you greatly in the long run. A proficiency in firearm handling or other weapons is another highly-sought talent.
Accents, Dialects, and Languages
If a director can’t cast a native speaker from a certain area, hiring actors who have studied the language is the next best thing. Learning another language, though time-consuming, would definitely be a boon to emerging actors. Accents can also make an actor more marketable. And while they still require hard work to master, accents are far easier to conquer than learning an entirely new language. Having these skills increases your versatility and opens you to many more opportunities for roles.
For roles in theater, an absence of music-related skills can limit your opportunities. On a resume, list any instruments you can play (and play well), as well as singing ability. It is also helpful to include any certifications or musical training you have received. If your skills are specialized in any way—for example, rap or opera singing—highlighting the specifics is essential. Just as with learning a language, investing in vocal training or learning an instrument may widen your options immensely.
Being able to improvise on command can be a differentiating factor. If you’ve taken improv classes and mastered your skill, this can be an important talent to include on a resume. It shows your versatility and ability to think on your feet while positioning you for a wide range of potential roles.
Though there may be the temptation to fluff up the special skills section of your acting resume, remember to always be honest and list only the talents that you’ve actually mastered. As much as having authentic skills will get you ahead, exaggerating your abilities will catapult you backwards and put you in hot water with casting directors.