How To Write An Effective Bio
Writing a bio gives a lot of actors cold sweats. I mean, you don’t want to be thought of as the actor who blows their own horn. That’s gross and super stereotypical. And you definitely don’t want to be associated with that old look-at-me-I’m-the-center-of-attention-at-all-times actor trope.
The good news is that if you’re stressing about being that kind of actor - you aren't going to be!
Good to know, right? But what goes into a good actor bio?
First I ask: What makes you read someone’s bio?
Do you want to know more about them? Are you looking for common connections? Do you simply want to know where someone studied? There are no wrong answers here.
When I read a bio, certain things definitely stand out to me:
So, I use those as my three steps to writing a bio.
Step 1: Career Highlights
Highlighting past career wins is always a good place to begin. I start by listing my favorite career accomplishments as bullet points. I like to make separate lists of my favorite and most noteworthy credits. For me, the goal isn’t so much to impress the reader or make myself seem worthy of being involved in the project (Spoiler Alert: they’re looking at my bio. So I AM worthy!), but to jog their memory in case they’ve seen my work in the past or we have mutual connections.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve enjoyed someone’s work and looked up their bio to see that we completed the same theatre program, I’ve seen their work before, or we’ve worked with the same people!
Step 2: Training
Who have I worked with that lends credibility to my work? Make a list of drama schools, acting studios, and specific coaches.
Step 3: Personality
I know sometimes you only get 100 words total and it can be tough to cram personality in. But you can do it! It can be as simple as thanking your partner at the end or mentioning your cat or hamster. I’ve even seen bios that are ONLY “personality,” without any credits at all! In fact, that’s what I’ve done on my website landing page. There’s not a credit to be seen!
Hint: If you want to go this route, consider using your Irresistible “Tell Me About Yourself” Response or your “Why Statement” from our networking course, The Relationship Roadmap.
Once you have all your components listed, now it’s a matter of choosing what you like best. Ask someone you trust about what stands out most to them.
If you’re still feeling stuck, read some other actor bios - check out IMDb or actor websites or programs for theatre productions. When you see something written in a way you like, borrow it! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, amiright?
To write in first-person or third-person…that is the question!
In an ideal world, you may want both because you might want options given the circumstances. A third-person bio can be seen as quite professional. That’s the kind of bio a PR agency might write. Meanwhile, writing in first-person can be perceived as more friendly. So, whichever feels more on-brand for you is the way to go!
I know that society has conditioned us all to refrain from pride, but I think that’s wrong. It’s arrogance that we must avoid. It’s absolutely essential that you own and can feel free to be proud of your accomplishments!
After all: You did it!
~ Coach Cecily
Bobby R. Poirier says
James Allen Brewer says
Thanks, Cecily. Great advice! Coincidentally, my father sported the male version of your name, Cecil! Small world, isn’t it?
All the best- James
Cherie S Mendez says
I LOVE this!!! Specifically the part about adding personality – that’s always a challenge for me. Thank you Cecily!!!
Dianne Wabash says
Yes, Coach Cecily I agree Arrogance is the WORST and I experience a lot of that with actors and just people here in Vancouver BC Canada! Thank you for YOUR COMMENT!
Charlie Compuesto says
So awesome! Just what I needed!