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Acting: Create an Acting Portfolio Without Experience

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If you have no acting experience and you want some type of acting career either on the stage, in films or on television, you will need an acting portfolio. A complete, high-quality acting portfolio will highlight your appearance, personality, and acting skills. Portfolio pictures should be taken by an experienced, professional photographer. Before you set foot in a photographer's studio, it's important to know what you want from the photo session. A portfolio will likely be required when you submit to a casting call. As an aspiring actor, your acting portfolio is your chance to make a good first impression, catch the attention of casting directors, and be invited to auditions.

Design-wise, your portfolio should have neat, readable fonts and be easily accessible. Relative to the design/structure of the portfolio, the content is what will really draw talent agents and casting directors to you. Here are a few useful tips for creating an acting portfolio with minimal or no prior experience.

Making an Acting Portfolio With No Experience

Know What You Want

Arrive at your portfolio shoot ready to explain your needs to the photographer. To avoid disappointment, try bringing any shots that you'd like to emulate or a list of actors you admire. This helps the photographer envision your roles so the lights and poses can capture the personality you want to convey.

If this is your first photo shoot, don't be intimidated. It's okay to ask to see the shots throughout the session.


A professional headshot is very important. This headshot should be a clear, close-up picture of your face, and it should look clean. Most actors have at least four photos in their profile, which include the most important headshots. Do a variety of poses and expressions to show your range, such as having your hair up or down, being clean-shaven or with facial hair; using natural lighting or studio lighting.

Performance Shots

When staging performance shots for your portfolio, there are many options to choose from. If you are currently in a production, you may want to have your photographer take shots at a rehearsal or during a performance. If you decide to have the photographer take performance photos, ask permission from the director in advance. You may find that there are many people who need grant permission for performance shots so ask before inviting the photographer. It's worth asking other actors if they are interested in adding new performance shots to their portfolios because you may get a discount if multiple actors are participating in the same shoot.

Different factors to consider for your performance shots include costumes and makeup. If you have any special skills or abilities, like juggling fire, tightrope walking, martial arts, stunt driving, working well with large animals, playing musical instruments, or anything else that will help you stand out, the performance shot is a great way to stand out and highlight your talents in action.

Whether it's your first acting portfolio or updating an old one, it's important to include a wide range of photos to show your acting and casting range.

Include Necessary Details and Information

Be sure to include information like your contact info (cell phone number, email, address, etc.), as well as your social media accounts, in case the talent agents or casting directors wish to find out more about you and take a look at your online presence. Depending on the type of role you want, you might need to come up with a stage name, too.

Other necessary details you should add to your portfolio underneath the basic contact information is your eye color, hair color, height, and weight. Unlike a regular resume, an acting portfolio must give accurate details of what you look like (in addition to actual photographs).

Acting Experience

Ultimately, an acting portfolio is an overview of your acting experience. You may not have any specific roles from your past that stand out thus far, but this does not mean the experience that you do have is not valuable. It also does not mean that you cannot gather more experience.

If you are a recent student, you might include acting experience from high school or college, though this does not count as professional experience. Roles you take on after high school and college will be considered professional gigs. Experience varies for everybody, so for beginners, this may just be acting classes or other training you have received in acting. It’s also worth noting special skills you have; many roles might require you to know how to do a certain skill, such as playing a musical instrument. It will be nice for talent agents to see that you already possess some of these skills; at the very least, they will want to know that you are willing and able to learn.


Never stop trying to seek out more acting work, especially if you are just getting started. Look for student films that need acting roles filled to continue building relevant experience for your portfolio.

Another display of your experience in acting is a demo reel. This demo reel includes video clips of various acting experiences that showcase your versatility as an actor. Again, some people may not have this yet. If this is the case for you, you might choose to include self-tapes of auditions (as long as you ensure the lighting and sound is high quality).

Another helpful addition for your acting portfolio is a letter of recommendation from a prominent figure like an acting coach/acting teacher, director, or producer.

Acting opportunities are everywhere, but everybody needs to start somewhere. Taking small side roles to build up your experience for your acting portfolio is a good idea. Not everybody can just flee to big cities like Los Angeles or New York and claim Broadway roles or be the main character in a highly anticipated film. Your acting portfolio is simply a collection of relevant information about you, as well as any kind of experience you have in the field. Building this portfolio in any way you can will surely benefit you on your journey to get more significant acting jobs and become an established name in the acting industry.

  • Another idea for an e-mail address is to link it to your website -- -- so that if you change servers you still have the same address.

Madi Reade is currently a student in her junior year at the University of Missouri studying Journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communications. She lives an active lifestyle and maintains an organized weekly routine to ensure academic success. Throughout her academic career, she has remained committed to bettering her writing and editing abilities with a plan to pursue a career after university that will allow her to employ these skills effectively.

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