Entertainment

Overview

Careers in the entertainment industry are broad and include roles in management, production, touring, gaming, radio, publishing, business, public relations, entertainment law, advertising, recording, promotions, and more!  Most people identify an interest in the entertainment industry through their own enjoyment of film, television, radio, music, video games, or other forms of entertainment.  It’s then a matter of identifying how your personal strengths and talents can find a match in the industry – and there’s really something for everyone.  Sometimes a graduate degree is needed, such as in entertainment law or even an MBA for business leadership.

Explore Entertainment Careers in O*Net

Film and Television

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in film and television, identifying your fit in the industry – and then building the needed skills and experience – is an important first step.  Generally, people will aspire to performance (acting) or non-performance (industry roles.  Within the industry, there are many different roles to explore.  Here is a list of the broad career focus areas in film and television.

The Film and Media Studies Department (FMST) offers courses in media theory, production, and sociopolitical and cultural experiences. Please visit the FMST webpage for more information.

Animation: See Visual Art and Design

Music Industry

The music industry supports the business of music performers and ranges from more technical careers, such as recording engineering, production, managers & agents, tour manages, and many other roles in between.  Music is really everywhere!  It’s heard on stage, over our radios, in films & television shows, in our advertisements, and all around us in many other ways.  In all cases, there are many people whose job is to connect what artists are creating to the world

Books: All you Need to Know about the Music Business by Donald S. Passman

Searching for Opportunities

entertainment

In addition to Handshake and other general career sites listed on the main page, here are a few focused resources that post job and internship opportunities in the entertainment industry.

Resumes and Cover Letters

As you pursue a career in the entertainment industry you may need several versions of your resume.  For acting and related roles, you will need an performance resume.  You may also need a standard resume that you will use for your “day job”, which may be in another professional area all together.  Many people choose administrative, clerical, service, or hospitality roles as they can allow for the flexibility needed to pursue other opportunities.  For tips on writing a standard resume, see our Resume How-To Guide.

Entertainment | Performance/Acting

Sample Resume

An actor’s resume and headshot has one purpose: to get you work. It is an overview of an actor’s performance experience, skills, and qualifications. The resume should be clear, easy to read, and relevant to the acting job you’re seeking. A casting director needs to be able to learn about the highlights of your work within a few seconds.

Use the following basic structure in your resume:

Heading – your basic information:

  • Name: Use a larger font and bold your name. It should stand out
  • Primary contact phone numbers
  • Email address, website, and any union affiliations
  • Do not include your home address. This is for safety reasons, and for accessibility in case you move (an actor’s resume may be on a casting agent’s file for several years).
  • Provide your height, weight, hair, and eye color, and if applicable, your vocal range.

Experience:

Acting can be categorized in several ways, depending on the breadth and range of one’s experience. Categories can include:

  • Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional/Stock, Community, etc.
  • Theatre or Stage, Film, Television, Industrials, Voiceovers, etc.

Under each category, separate credits by columns: production title, role played, theatre/producer/ director. Dates aren’t necessary, and only clutter the resume.

An actor doesn’t need to include all of their credits. Rather, they should choose the most recent and/or prestigious roles, as well as credits relevant to the audition. Less is more, and actors can always include a line indicating “additional credits available upon request.” Actors should send updates to their resumes when a headshot is on file with an agent. This keeps one’s name fresh and “top-of-mind” with an agency.

Education and Training:

In addition to listing your college degree and major, your resume can include acting-related workshops, on-going studio classes, or private training. You may also include training in related fields such as music (especially singing), dance, martial arts, etc. Many actors include the number of years they have trained in a particular area, technique, or discipline.

Special Skills:

This can include everything—regional dialects, accents, spoken languages, juggling, acrobatics, sports, etc. If you can do it, include it.

Size and Format

  • Use a font and size (11 pt. is common) that are easy to read.
  • Trim resume to fit the back of an 8”x10” headshot, and ensure your resume’s text fits comfortably in that dimension.
  • Print directly or staple each corner of resume to the back of a headshot

For tips on writing a standard resume, see our Resume How-To Guide.

Entertainment | Industry/Non-Performance

A resume for non-performance roles in the entertainment will be similar to a standard resume but will often have specific modifications, such as unique headings, relevant for a particular role. Depending on the particular job and field of interest, resumes may need to highlight a number of skills and include some sections that are not present in a standard resume or academic CV.

Sample Resume

Resume samples are intended to provide a basic idea of what an acting resume can look like. Your resume may look different. Further, other roles within or adjacent to the performing arts may have unique modifications as well. One of the best ways to figure out how your resume should look is to explore the resumes of other professionals who are working in similar ways to what you intend to do. Many performers have webpages with their resumes included. An internet search is an excellent tool to discover resume version in the professional world.

For tips on writing a standard resume, see our Resume How-To Guide.

Headshots

Headshots: Resumes used to audition for performance are accompanied by a professional headshot – often with your resume printed on the back of the headshot.  While you will certainly need digital copies of your headshots, it is necessary to have a physical resume and headshot available for auditions.  Your attitude should be open and friendly, and warmth should radiate from your eyes. One very good photo is all you really need. Headshots should always be 8 x10 and résumés must be cut to fit. Black and white headshots are no longer used; all headshots need to be in color.  Your name should be printed on your photo.  You can have several headshots: theatrical (more serious), commercial (more smiley) or character (for specific types you can play-optional). Matte is the best finish for headshots, not semi-gloss.

Below are top tips articulated in Backstage:

  1. It is worth the financial investment to have high quality headshots taken to showcase you as a performer.  Most performers will agree it’s worth pay for a qualified professional who is trained to take headshots.  Good headshots can range from $500 to $1,200 – with some additional costs to have them duplicated.
  2. Ensure the headshot really looks like you and has some personality.  Minimize after shot modification.  Headshots will need to be taken every few years to ensure that you look like your photo.
  3. In general, a good headshot is chest up with good lighting on your face, and no strong dramatic shadows.
  4. Lighting matters!  Consider natural light vs. studio light.  A good photographer will be able to help you ensure lighting works.
  5. Make sure your headshot is focused on you.  Limit props, extraneous clothing, and excessive make-up.

Resource: Actor Headshots: Everything You Need to Know (Backstage)

Break into the Industry

Breaking in to the entertainment industry is a bit more of an art than a science.  (Pun intended!)  It can feel tough to break in to the entertainment industry, especially when you aren’t pursuing an entertainment-based program of study.  Here are a few tips and ways of thinking to get you started:

Do It! Write It! Make It!

Quite simply, creative professionals of all stripes will be more likely to land opportunities they want if they are doing the thing they want to do as often as possible.  Many people get their start in the entertainment industry by diving in and doing the type of work they hope to do.  For example, say you want to be a promoter – don’t wait around for a company to hire you.  Find some local musicians on campus or in the community and arrange a few shows.  Do a good job and eventually make connections to do more.  Create, produce, and share video content!   In addition, consider Engage in other ways –  write a blog, volunteer, or job shadow.  Eventually, doing the thing you want to do will lead to something more formal, if that’s what you want to do.  Or, you’ll be building credibility to make it as a freelancer.

Be in the Know

What’s going on the industry?  Who are the notable companies in the music industry?  Who are some of the important people?  These are all questions that reflect the importance of staying on top of what is happening in the world of entertainment.  Research company websites, follow them on social media, read industry publications, and attend relevant events when possible.   The more you know, the easier it will be to identify opportunities, navigate the industry, and impress that future contact who can open doors.

Remain Flexible

If you focus on only one specific role in the industry, you may miss out on a lot of opportunities that are adjacent to what you want to do and could be just as good a way to break in to a job.  While it isn’t a good idea to be unfocused or overly broad, you do want to be strategic and remain open to all possibilities that could lead you in the general direction you hope to go.  In the end, experience can open doors and help you build the connections you need to be more discerning.

Cultivating Your Creative Talent

While the Piper Center is many things, we are not experts in creative talents!  Pursuing a career in entertainment often means developing your creative talents and strengths.  Additionally, it’s important to understand how those creative talents match the needs of the industry and usually that comes by receiving feedback from other professionals or teacher.   Therefore it is very important that you explore your career goals and discuss how your talents and strengths are evolving towards those goals.  Alumni, faculty, and personal/community contacts are great places to start to find people who can teach, strengthen, constructively critique, and evaluate your artistic and creative skills.  And, if you aren’t able to identify contacts in this way, sometimes you need to reach out to cold contacts.

Questions to explore:

  • What is it like – and what does it take – to make it in the entertainment industry?
  • How do my talents and strengths connect to the role(s) I’m interested in?
  • What type of entertainment career suits me best?
  • How will a career in entertainment fit into my broader vocation and career goals?
  • Is entertainment something I want to pursue as a primary career goal or is it something that will augment another area of interest?
Networking and Connections

Many jobs in the entertainment industry are not posted.  Like many careers, it can be very much a “who you know” business and roles are often filled through personal recommendations even if they are posted.  (So networking is really the most important search strategy, especially for full-time roles).  Larger companies and studios do often post online and, in some cases, recruit at the college level but they receive lots of applications and so connections who are able to refer you internally are often critical.

Internships are often a very helpful way to get your foot in the door, build relationships and hear about upcoming positions.  These are also filled pretty quickly (4 – 6 weeks).

Because networking is so critical for performing and non-performing roles, building a career in the entertainment industry often requires a move to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and (increasingly) Atlanta.  There are pathways that do not require such a strategic move but it may take longer to achieve your goals.

How-to Guide: Networking | Informational Interviews

Professional Associations and Industry Publications - Entertainment

Professional organizations are a fantastic way to explore careers, gain insight into specific industries, and keep up-to-date on relevant news.  Engaging with professional associations and participating in events can help you connect with relevant creative professionals and build your credibility in your area of interest.  Consider using professional associations to develop and enhance your career journey:

  • Search for information related to entering the specific career field.
  • Many associations have job and internship databases.
  • Access current information and news related to your industry.
  • Follow the association on LinkedIn to receive relevant content in your feed and demonstrate your credibility in the professional community.
  • Join as a student member – often for free or at a greatly reduced rate – and indicate your membership on your resume to demonstrate credibility with potential employers.
  • Learn about and participate in networking or industry events to meet and engage with arts professionals.

Select the arts area for a full list of relevant professional associations in the arts.  Looking for a specific association that isn’t listed?  The Professional Association Finder is a great resource for national and international organization related to career industries.

Gain Experience On Campus

Here are some ideas to build experience on-campus:

Film & Television:

Music Industry:

Radio:

  • Get involved with KSTO 93.1 fm!