Special Skills Means Special Skills

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  • Special Skills Means Special Skills

    If you can’t really swim, then don’t put swimming on your acting résumé. The same goes for all the other special skills you claim.

    (by James Webb)


    (Photo: rawpixel/Unsplash)

    There once was an actor – let’s just call him “Bob” – who thought it was a great idea to load up the Special Skills section of his acting résumé with as many “skills” as he could possibly claim. His bright idea was that, the more skills he could claim, the more acting work he would get.

    Bob, who could barely keep himself afloat in a pool of water, decided to add “swimming” as a special skill on his résumé, because he had recently enjoyed time at a pool party. One day, Bob’s agent called to ask if he was available for an acting job that required a good swimmer. Bob, needing the work, enthusiastically tossed his hat into the ring and, ultimately, booked the job.


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    When the filming began, Bob’s lie was revealed in dramatic fashion. His attempts at swimming were laughable. Laughable, that is, until he nearly drowned and had to be rescued by a crew member.

    In Bob’s case, the moral of the story is: SPECIAL SKILLS CAN KILL! But Bob is an extreme case. For everyone else, the moral of the story is: SPECIAL SKILLS MEANS SPECIAL SKILLS.

  • It might be tempting to load your acting résumé up with lots and lots of special skills. Some actors do this in hopes of booking more work. They think, for example, “hey, if I put ‘basketball’ in my Special Skills section, it might put me in competition for basketball roles.” Or, “hey, I went ice skating and stayed on my feet the whole time, without falling. I could use that as a special skill and get more work.”

    But remember, the word “skill” means SKILL! That means, you can do that activity better than the average person. Casting directors might even want you to be able to do that activity better than people who do it very well, as if you were a semi-professional. Activities you only do once in a blue moon don’t qualify as a special skill. Activities you only do with your left-over beer money don’t count as a special skill. Activities you’ve only done a few times in life don’t qualify as a special skill.

  • By placing it into your special skills section, you are announcing to all who see your résumé that you are better than most. Imagine the disappointment a casting director will feel when they get you booked for a basketball role, only to find out that all you know how to do is hit the backboard. Your reputation, much like your jump-shot, will be one giant…brick!

    Bottom line: Don’t be like poor Bob, who, after nearly drowning to death, was unceremoniously kicked off the set of his commercial shoot for lying about his swimming prowess. If you can’t really swim, then don’t put swimming on your acting résumé. The same goes for all the other special skills you claim.


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