How to Make a Portfolio for Acting
If you’re new to the world of child acting and have been reading up on how to get started in the industry, the chances are you’ve heard a lot of talk about the importance of portfolios. In fact, you’ve probably read that a portfolio is an absolute must if your child or teen is to succeed. And you know what? It’s true. A great and professional portfolio is key to landing the right opportunities.
But since you’re reading this now, we’re guessing that no one has told you exactly how to go about making a portfolio for child acting. This is especially confusing when your child has zero experience and no acting credits.
Well, before we go any further, we’ll just point out that everyone has to start somewhere. Even the most successful of child actors started exactly where your child is right now so it can be done, and luckily for you, it’s not all that complicated.
What is an acting portfolio?
An acting portfolio is a bit like a child modelling portfolio. It’s kind of like a resume that casting directors will take a look at when your agent (that’s us!) recommends your child or teenager for a role.
While a modelling portfolio will include plenty of images of your child in a variety of poses, an acting portfolio includes some shots, but most importantly, a reel that showcases your child’s acting talents. This allows a casting director to get a good feel for how your child or teen performs in front of a camera and what they look like on film.
How to make a portfolio for child acting?
There are several key components to a child acting portfolio that are essential for making that great first impression with a casting director. Leave them out at your peril!
Yep, an actual resume that lists all of your child’s personal information such as their age, height, and weight. There’s no need to include any sensitive information or contact details as the point of contact for a casting director will be your agency.
This section of the portfolio is actually extremely important particularly for child actors with very little experience. This is because the resume section is where you can include any skills that your child may have. This could be anything from fantastic trumpet playing skills to being an accomplished dancer. You can also include any previous on-stage experience your child may have had in plays or musicals.
Oh,and if your child has taken any acting lessons, then be sure to include details of the lessons and the acting/drama school attended.
Just like a modelling portfolio, an acting portfolio must include some headshots so that the casting director can see at a glance what your child looks like. But remember, these must be professionally taken photos. No holiday snaps or selfies taken at home. The casting director will want to see what your child or teenager looks like under professional studio lighting.
It would also be a good idea to include some ‘action’ shots. Images that show your child doing something and not posing for the camera. If you had your portfolio shots taken by a professional, the photographer will most likely have suggested taking a few of these types of shots. Again, this is to give the casting director a feel for your child’s image and how they look on film.
An acting reel
If your child or teenager has experience, then this is where you’ll put their best acting reel. The video that really showcases their abilities and the one that you and they are most proud of. If you’re not sure which video will be best suited for this section, go ahead and ask your agent, They’ll know exactly which video to choose.
For kids with no acting experience there are two options; you can leave this section empty or you can make a video. Of course, we don’t want to leave it blank so the latter option is certainly the better of the two, but only if done in the right way.
First, you’ll need your child to memorise some lines or a monologue. It doesn’t need to be super long, but the video should show a casting director that they are capable of following direction and acting out a very short scene. This will certainly give them a better chance of success.
You could potentially ask your photographer when shooting your portfolio shots if they don’t mind shooting a short video too. This will give the reel a professional feel and, of course, your child will be under those studio lights.
If you can’t manage this then shooting a scene at home as you would a self tape is another great option. This is when you set up a camera and some lighting at home and record some lines or a monologue. If you want to know more about how to do this, check out our guide on filming a self tape.
Alternatively, you could try to find your child some genuine acting experience that can be included in their portfolio. There are plenty of opportunities out there for anyone who is willing to do a little acting for free. For example, the local film school may have students who need actors for their projects.
Whatever you decide to do, try to make sure that any reel that you use for this section looks professional even if it’s a self tape that you have recorded at home.
Acting portfolio examples
Here are a few examples of acting portfolios that include all the key components mentioned above.