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RESUME TIPS: How to List Roles by Amanda Brooke Lerner of the Actor & the Biz

TELEVISION (Network + Premium Cable):

  • Co-Star

  • Guest Star

  • Recurring

    • Recurring Co-Star

    • Recurring Guest Star

  • Series Regular

CABLE TV (Reenactment Shows):

  • Principal

    • Casting Directors need to immediately differentiate between Network/Premium Cable and Non-Union Cable Reenactment shows.

    • Please note it is spelled Principal, not Principle.


  • Co-Star

  • Guest Star

  • Recurring

  • Web Series Regular

  • Principal can also be used.

*Please note the SAG-AFTRA term for internet projects is New Media and should be listed separately from TV, with some exceptions.


  • Day Player

  • Supporting

  • Lead


  • Conflicts Available Upon Request

    • Do not list your commercials on your legit resume. Instead, keep a running list to use for commercial agent interviews.


  • Name of Character

    • For original works and world premieres, you can add (lead) if you were the lead.


** No more hitting the spacebar or driving yourself nuts setting up tabs and margins! Use Microsoft Word Tables to keep your three columns perfectly aligned.

STUCK? Check out the Actor & the Biz for more info on Resume Resurrection!


By Amanda Brooke Lerner of the Actor & the Biz

Casting Directors need to get their job done quickly and effectively. If they bring you in, their hope is that you are the perfect actor for the job! They want you to be awesome, they want you to look like your headshot and they want you to deliver when the heat is on. All of these things will make them look good in front of the decision makers and also help you book the room.

Speed is paramount. With smartphones, everyone is submitting as soon the breakdowns come in, so make sure you’re on top of it. Go to the actual casting sites to submit as often as you can since they are posted before they are released to email.

If casting doesn’t know you and you want to be seen, your job is to reassure the Casting Director that they are making a smart decision by bringing you in. I like to think of it as taking my actor hat off and putting my assistant casting director hat on!

There will always be different opinions on everything related to the biz. My motto is “Take the good and leave the rest!”



  • This is how I know you. Remind them.

  •  This is who referred me, if you have their permission first.

  •  This is what I have done. This is what I am doing. If it matches the tone and style of the project.

  •  This is my skill. See video clip.

  •  Confirm important details like availability. Do not submit and audition if you are not available.

  •  Make a note if there’s been a change in appearance. Or if you are clean-shaven but willing to grow a mustache, for example.

  •  Confirm any other details they are looking for in the breakdown.

  •  Add a personal touch like if something about the breakdown was exciting! We submit and audition for a million things but this is their baby. Show respect and enthusiasm.



  • DON’T submit more than once for more than one role for the same project. Write, I’m interested in the role of ABC. I’m also interested in the role of XYZ. NOTE: There are some exceptions. If you’re truly right for more than one role and have a specific headshot to go with each submission, then go for it. 

  •  Don’t submit for the same project on multiple platforms. This will also drive them crazy.

  •  DON’T Insult the project ie: give a backhanded compliment. An example: “I don’t normally do PSA’s but this particular one looks like it’s going to be really well done and for a good cause, so I’m submitting for your consideration.” If you feel the project is beneath you, don’t submit.

  •  Don’t submit yourself for something you’re not right for just to get your materials in front of their face.

  •  YET…Don’t reject yourself before they reject you.

  •  Don’t wait by the phone waiting for your agent to call. Self-Submit like a fierce and savage beast: Quickly, Consistently, and Intelligently.


SAMPLE COVER NOTE (For Actor’s Access)

Did you know that when casting is viewing submissions on Actor’s Access, they see your headshot and the 1st 40 characters of your submission note? Use this as an opportunity to grab their attention, like a newspaper headline. This may be all they see as they may not click to read your full note.For example, if the role is for a detective, here is a possible cover note:

Det. L&O: SVU (S20 E17) | MFA Yale <— Headline

Hi Casting Director’s First Name,

My schedule is flexible for mid-June shoot dates, I can be an Atlanta local hire and I’d love the opportunity to share my work with you. I just booked a co-starring detective role on Law & Order: SVU!

Thanks so much, Amanda 

For more info:

P.S. We met at Actor’s Green Room in January.



 Hi Casting Director’s First Name,

My improv skills are excellent, I just completed level 3 at UCB and I booked my first national commercial! My schedule is flexible for mid-June shoot dates and travel to Rome and I have a valid Passport.   

Thanks so much,


P.S. We met at SAG-AFTRA in January


By Amanda Brooke Lerner of the Actor & the Biz

Dearest Late Bloomers,

Here’s a list of 18 actors who found success later in life. Some were working actors and others literally began careers mid-to-late life. Read ‘em and weep Naysayers ‘cause it’s Never Too Late! 

P.S. Did you know that Stan Lee, Creator of Spider-Man, was 43 when he began drawing his legendary superheroes?

P.P.S. There really is no such thing as an overnight success; but there is an Overnight Discovery.


1.    MELISSA LEO won her first Oscar at age 50 for her supporting role in The Fighter.

2.    Black and white film must do wonders for the skin because LUCILLE BALL was already 40 when she began filming I Love Lucy, a fact rarely touched on in the show.

3.    RICHARD FARNSWORTH was a stuntman for thirty years. From time to time he would get a line or two in movies that he was working in but he was hired mostly for his horse riding. He went into acting in his 50’s and received an Oscar nomination at Age 58 and a Best Actor nomination at age 79.

4.    MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN, The Gentle Giant was 42 when he won an Academy Award for his amazing performance in The Green Mile. Tragically, he died at age 55.  

5.    Multi- award winning actress, HELEN MIRRIN had been working but made her Emmy’s and Golden Globes for the British TV Series, Prime Suspect. She was 47. She has made over one hundred movies and television shows, been nominated and won 140 awards. However, she was 62 when she received her first Oscar for her fine work in The Queen.

6.    F. MURRAY ABRAHAM got his first decent screen role as an actor when he was 45. The role was in the movie Amadeus and he won an Academy Award for his brilliant portrayal of Antonio Salieri. He had thought of giving up acting just two years before but thankfully didn’t.

7.    LESLIE NEILSON acted in a string of B-movies throughout the Fifties but it wasn’t until 1980, when he was 54, that he landed his role in the comedy Airplane.

8.    PHYLISS DILLER became a comedian at the age of 37. She was told by many club owners that she was “too old” to become a success.

9.    SAMUEL L. JACKSON was a pretty solid working actor but once he did Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” when he was 41, his career really took off. He was 46 when he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Pulp Fiction.

10. KATHY BATES’ career began to take hold at the age of twenty-two after moving to New York to pursue an acting career. At first she found steady work in the theater. She enrolled in the Actors Theater in Louisville and her career began blossoming with roles on loads of TV shows and soaps. She was 42 when she won her Oscar for the movie blockbuster, “Misery” in 1990.

11. LINDA GRAY is most famous for her role as the embattled Sue Ellen Ewing on “Dallas.” Shockingly, Gray’s acting career didn’t begin until her 30’s. She had done several commercials but her life changed after a trip to the grocery store in 1970. She met the wife of Dennis Weaver from “McCloud” and was talked into auditioning for a role on the show. See, it’s true that you never know who you’re going to meet while food shopping!

12. KATHRYN JOOSTEN, known for playing the cranky Mrs. McCluskey on “Desperate Housewives,” Joosten didn’t BEGIN acting until she was 42. She’s a two-time winning actress who found fame a few years after studying the craft in Chicago in the 1980’s. Before she began acting at an older age, Joosten was a psychiatric nurse. Her famous career has taken on countless roles in television - Roseanne,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Dharma and Greg,” and “Murphy Brown” - and has proven to be a real talent.

13. MEGAN MULLALLY, began her television career in 1981 after she moved to LA from Chicago. Mullally had a background in theater, however, it wasn’t until she was 40 that she landed the role as the crazy Karen Walker on “Will and Grace”

14. BRENDA BLETHYN’S career began at an older age. She took a chance in her twenties to enroll in acting in after working for the British Rail. In the 1970’s she made her way on stage, but her screen career came later on when she was on the BBC2 Playhouse at age 34. She was a relative unknown until she landed a role in “A River Runs Through It” in 1980. Brenda was 56 when she was nominated for an Oscar in Secrets and Lies.

15. ANNE RAMSEY was born in 1929, but her acting career began in the 1950’s when she appeared in theater. Her “famous” acting career started in the 1970’s when she guest starred on “Little House on the Prairie” and in seven films with her actor husband, Logan Ramsey, including “The Sporting Club” and “Meet the Hollowheads.” She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her role in the flick, “Throw Momma From the Train” when she was 58.

16. GENE HACKMAN was 30 years-old when he started acting late in his life. His performance in Crimson Tide surged his acting career to unbelievable heights. At age 37, Hackman received his first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor in Bonnie and Clyde. At that point, Hackman would go on to act in 80 films and win numerous, well-deserved awards.

17. ALAN RICKMAN, the late British celebrity turned to acting in his early thirties after having a successful business in graphic design. At a good point in his life to pursue the career he always dreamed of, the British actor went to appear in Sense and Sensibility and Robin Hood. He was 42 when Die Hard came out.

18. JOHN MAHONEY, the actor who played Kelsey Grammer’s retired police officer dad on Frasier, began acting at the age of 37. A British-American actor who hails from Manchester, England, Mahoney moved to the states after a career in teaching and editing before joining the Army. He was turned on to performing after actor, John Malkovich, persuaded him to appear in Steppenwolf. Mahoney went on to play in supporting roles in movies such as Manhattan Project, Say Anything, Moonstruck, and Suspect. John Mahoney Won a Tony at age 40. He was 53 when he landed his series regular role on Frazier.

How’s that for debunking the myth?