On Headshots

Every day when I get home I eagerly check the mail because, hey, maybe there’s something good in there.  But there never is.  Pretty much the mail brings two things: bills and junk.  Bills are, whatever, they’re bills and they’re important and there is nothing at all fun or interesting or unexpected about them.  I wish I could convince the people who send me junk mail that I have not, nor ever will buy something because they sent me a flyer, but I don’t know who to send that request to and I don’t think they would listen to me anyway.  So it all goes straight into the recycling bin.

It’s not that we don’t get the good stuff anymore, it’s just that we don’t get it on paper.  We have the internet.  I haven’t had a subscription to a magazine since I was a kid.  And outside of birthday cards once a year, I keep in touch with my friends and family via email and text.  I seem to be rather infamous for my lack of interest in social media, but my facebook is my fantasy baseball league, which does, in fact, make me a nerd. 

So, I get it.  We live in the post-paper age.  Everything lives online, on our computers and on our phones.  It makes us more efficient, and it saves trees and resources.  This is all good. 


As an actor you are, at every step, selling yourself, whether it be to directors, casting directors, agents, producers, or ad agencies.  Your headshot and resume is your business card.  It is the first thing somebody like me looks at when deciding whether or not to give you, as opposed to the hundreds of other people out there vying for the same role, the opportunity to audition.

Therefore, if you have not taken the time to create a professional calling card for yourself, then I have no reason to assume that you are taking the time to hone your craft and become, or even continue to be, a good actor.  If your headshot is just a random selfie you printed from your phone, and your resume is in a default format from MS Word, you are not giving me a reason to take you seriously as an actor.

And because there are plenty of people who are taking themselves seriously as actors, you are putting yourself at a crippling disadvantage.  It does not matter how many online profiles you have created, whether they are the database we use or if they are from national casting sites.  A link to your IMDB page does not count. 

I understand that sometimes you can get conflicting signals on whether or not to bring your headshot to an audition.  Very often, in fact more often than not, if you attend a session at Slate we will tell you that we do not need your headshot.   This is because we already have it and, in the interest of reducing paper, we just don’t need it that day. 

However, this does not mean that you don’t have to bring your headshot to every single audition you attend, whether it is at Slate or somewhere else.  Because, often we do need it!  There could be any number of reasons why, but the main one is because our clients are in the room.  And clients like headshots!

It happens every session.  The director will be in the room.  We bring an actor in, ask for their headshot, the client reaches up expectantly and…. “oh, I didn’t know I needed it today,” or “you have it on file.”  And what does the director do every single time?  They sigh and roll their eyes.   

This is not a good look. 

Just because I have your headshot on file does not mean I have it in my hand.  And I don’t have the time in that moment to run into my office and flip through a folder or print it out.  And even if I do print it out for you, now your headshot is a crappy printout in a stack of nice, neat, professionally printed headshots.  Are you giving the director a reason to take you seriously?

It’s impossible to know at which auditions you will need your headshot.  Therefore, always bring your headshot.  It costs you nothing to throw it in your bag.  If we say we don’t need it, then you just saved a little money and will have it ready for the next one.  And you will look like someone who knows what they are doing. 

A few more thoughts on headshots and resumes:

1.      Headshots should be in color and they should show you as you look today, within reason.  No need to get a new headshot every time your hair grows a couple of inches, but if you radically change your look, or you’re 15 years older than you were in the shot, it’s time for a new one.

2.     Headshots are 8x10.  If you print your headshots yourself (which is fine!) please take the time to cut them down to the standard size.  This includes your resume.  Nothing screams lazy like an 8x10 photo stapled to an 8x11 resume.

3.     STAPLE YOUR RESUME BEFORE YOU COME TO THE AUDITION!  If you hand me a photo and resume that aren’t stapled together, it’s as if you’re saying, “you staple this.”