An acting bio, short for acting biography, is a brief written summary of an actor’s career, including their training, experience, notable roles, and sometimes personal background.
An actor’s bio serves as a professional introduction that gives casting directors, agents, producers, and audiences a quick overview of who the actor is and what they have accomplished in acting.
An acting bio is usually concise, aiming to fit on a single page, and is often included in a press kit or program for a performance.
It should be written in the third person and crafted to engage the reader while providing a professional overview of the actor’s career and abilities.
Even though most acting bios are seen in things such as programs (playbills), they can be a helpful tool for getting you hired and are a convenient way for people to read about your path within the acting industry.
In this article, you can see what – and not – to put in an acting bio.
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Actor Bio Templates
Creating an acting biography is a good exercise for any aspiring actor, as it helps you hone in on who you are as an actor.
When writing an actor biography, you should always follow these four rules:
- Write in the third person
- Use active voice
- Keep it short
- Keep it professional
To help you out, I’ve created three templates you can use: a short professional bio template intended for Playbills and two Website Templates.
Playbill Bio Template
The first actor bio template is great for theater playbills and press kits.
[Your Full Name] (Role). [Notable Roles] + [Education] + [Awards/Honors] + [unique skills] + [personal statement].
Remember, you don’t need all of these if they’re irrelevant. A short bio is always preferred to fluff.
Also, you can leave out the supporting text if you have many credits to your name.
Here’s a fictional example of how it can be applied to an experienced actor:
“John Doe (Tom Wingfield). Theatre: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Playhouse), Wicked! (regional tour). Film: The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Oppenheimer. TV: Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis. Voiced the character of Moff Gideon in LEGO Star Wars. B.F.A. Carnegie Mellon University. Nominated for Best Performance by Male Actor in Supporting Role on Television at the Golden Globes for his role as Coach Beard in Ted Lasso Apple TV+.”
If you are an actor with no or few credits yet, try something closer to this:
“Jane Doe (Laura Wingfield). Jane is very excited to make her professional acting debut in The Glass Menagerie. Jane holds a BFA from the David Geffen School of Drama. When she is not on stage, she enjoys working with her friends on short films or going to improv class at U of M. She would like to thank her friends for their encouragement and support.”
General Actor Bio Template for Websites
Websites sometimes have a little more space to include extra details. You should still keep your actor’s bio ultra-short, though.
Below are two templates you can use.
The first template is generic and can be applied in multiple ways. Remember, you don’t have to include everything if it isn’t relevant:
[Full Name], [age], is a [theatre genre/style] actor with [number of years] years of experience, known for [notable roles/performances], trained at [institution or teacher], and recognized for [awards/honors] and [unique skills or contributions to theatre/film].
The second template is great for actors seeking a role internationally and wanting to include their nationality (or national heritage) as part of their actors’ bio.
[Full Name], born [Date of Birth] in [Place of Birth/Nationality], is known for [defining role(s)] and has received [awards/recognition] for performances in [genre/type of productions], showcasing a range in [acting styles/skills] since [year of debut].
Here’s a fictional example of the first template applied:
“Jane Doe (26) is a classically trained actor with five years of professional experience, known for her role as Jane in the TV series Tarzan: Jungle King (2021-2022) and as Bunny the Vampire Hunter in Dark Forest (2017-2020). Jane holds a BA in acting from RADA, where she specialized in Alexander Technique. While living in London, Jane was deeply involved with teaching acting to kids from marginalized families for a local theatre company.”
Here’s a fictional example of the second template applied:
“John Doe (born August 1, 2000, in Stockholm, Sweden) is known for his roles as Tarzan in the TV series Tarzan: Jungle King (2021-2022) and as Bill the Vampire in Dark Forest (2017-2020). In movies, he acted in My Danish Sister (2019), Game of Gamers (2020), and The Breaking Apart (2022), directed by Anthony Fitzgerald. For the last part, he was nominated as Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival. He recently made his theatrical debut in Hamlet (as Rosencrantz) at the Globe Theatre in London. His classical acting skills combined with a background in martial arts have already made John a demanded actor in various genres ranging from action fantasy blockbusters to stage drama since his debut in 2015.”
A Breakdown of the Essential Components of an Actor Bio
The above templates should be tweaked so they fit your profile.
Below is some additional explanation of each component. Typically, an acting bio includes the following information:
- Introduction: This usually includes your first name and last name and sometimes your unique qualities or acting style.
- Background: Your origins and relevant personal history that has shaped your acting career.
- Training: Your formal training and education, such as drama school, acting workshops, masterclasses, online acting classes, or any other relevant instruction.
- Theatre/Stage Experience: If applicable, list your theatre credits, including the play’s name, role, and the production company or theatre.
- Film and Television Credits: List your work in film, television, and other screen media, highlighting any prominent roles or projects.
- Voiceover work: If you’ve done work as a voice actor, include it. See this article on how to find voice-acting casting calls.
- Special Skills: Here, you should mention any special skills that might set them apart, such as fluency in other languages, dance, martial arts, singing, or the ability to play musical instruments.
- Awards and Special Recognition: If you have received any awards or nominations for their work, they are noted here.
- Personal Interests: Sometimes, actors briefly mention their interests or hobbies, especially if they relate to acting or performance.
- Contact Information: An acting bio may conclude with contact information (email address) or representation details (e.g., the actor’s agent or manager).
In a sense, an actor biography is your acting resume summarized in a series of 3-4 short paragraphs.
And it needs to be something that can be remembered by audience members and agents alike.
You might like this article on how to get an agent.
Advice for Upcoming Actors: don’t fear bio writing!
I know it can seem daunting when you see the bio of a working actor. But fear not! They also started from scratch without any acting experience.
You need to focus on what makes you, you!
There’s only one of you with your life experience. Use it to your advantage!
Anything that helped you get to where you are is worth putting down.
Examples of what to include
You can mention what you enjoy outside of acting. If you have various interests or special skills, use the ones that will make casting directors notice.
You can mention your education if you took any classes or seminars contributing to your talents. If you went to an acting school, mention it.
Even if you took a couple of acting classes but do not have a college degree, include those classes!
Educational experiences are also marketing materials for you.
Adding personal anecdotes is encouraged since it will connect you with the reader. Many actors use a phrase to thank their family or friends or talk about how excited they are for the future.
It sounds basic, but having a “human-sounding” sentence makes you relatable to those reading it instead of making you seem distant.
No one wants to work with someone who looks out of touch, and we are all people at the end of the day.
What not to put in an Actor’s bio: prioritize the important stuff!
If you loved being in your first play in seventh grade and were the lead role but have had many more credible roles since put those in your bio instead of the middle school production.
Even though you like it, it does not necessarily make you the most marketable to casting directors.
Similarly, if you were in a play in college that you had a small role in and were not exactly fond of, and if it isn’t something that doesn’t help you land future roles, there is no need to mention it in your acting bio.
However, if there is a production you did not necessarily enjoy but was still a big project, you should keep it as part of your bio.
Keep the things that sell you the best and eliminate the roles that don’t represent you well.
Keep the things that grab attention and display your progress, and lose the rest!
Remember to remove any specific phrases regarding earlier projects.
Fx, if you put an acting bio on your website that you previously used in a production, remove the specific phrases to that project (such as “John Smith is ecstatic to be a part of [X] production!”).
Keep it organized
If you have experience in theatre, TV and film, split that experience into different sections instead of keeping them together.
This keeps your acting bio more organized and helps those reading it to keep track of your work more easily.
If a casting director were to read your bio and you had a short film next to a play, either they would struggle to decide which format to find your work in.
Any time you can save the reader from sorting out your experience, the better.
Show that you’re organized – that tiny difference makes you more marketable.
Wouldn’t you want to work with an actor who wrote a formulated couple of paragraphs over one who didn’t?
When Should I Use My Acting Bio?
Besides theatre programs and your website, your bio can be used in various ways. These include:
- Whenever a director asks you to submit something to be used in the program describing you and your work, submit an acting bio.
- When you submit your information to a casting director for a project, and they need more information about you, submit an acting bio.
- If you are asked to submit a cover letter on a casting site, use your bio as the letter.
- Use your bio if there is a section on your agency’s website for you to write a little about yourself.
- If you are emailing agencies for representation, use a bio in your email thread to show why you are worth being brought on as a client.
- You promote yourself on social media pages (fx in an Instagram bio).
Should I Write My Bio Myself?
As a general rule, you should always be the one to write your bio. Agents have many clients and, frankly, have no time to write out acting bios for all their clients.
Besides, if someone else writes it for you, there is no way to make it sound personal. Connecting with whoever is reading the bio is key, so keeping the personal touch is very important.
That being said, if a theatre has a specific template, you should use it, and try to make it personal within the limits of that template.
Casting directors, managers, and agency representatives show up to productions to see the work of actors, which makes an acting bio extremely important.
Your career could change overnight based on what a director reads about you.
Casting directors click on your website to see who you are and what you’re all about.
If they see a solid bio in there, that may be the thing that makes them decide to work with you.
Casting directors will see if you have social media connected to your agency site. Your bio being there may sway them as well.
While there are many different ways that you can be hired for multiple projects as an actor, ensuring that you have all of the right materials in order is essential for your success in this type of work.
Even if an acting bio seems less important than headshots or a resume, it is just as imperative to have.
Keep the following things in mind:
Having a bio for any project, professional or through the community, is a good idea.
You never know who will be in the audience, which is good practice for you.
Even without much experience, short professional bios will look good if they are organized.
Remember to keep the biggest credits that have helped your professional life since they will reach your target audience.
Remember that something such as a well-written bio can build up your acting career, even in the likes of industry professionals. Every good actor should have a good bio.
While you could be the one in a million who gets a lucky break or gets a Marvel role and is set to act in films for the next 12 years, being prepared for any path your acting opportunities take you is nothing but positive.
Always be your biggest supporter by doing what you can to succeed!