The cover letter is an opportunity to give a little extra info about yourself that you wouldn’t generally include on a CV.
A cover letter that you would send when applying for an audition will be different to one that you send an agent for representation. Either way, the three most important things to remember are:
If applying for representation, it is very important that you address the letter to a specific agent within the agency. Don't write "To whom it may concern". That’s impersonal and suggests that you haven’t done any research, and are perhaps mass emailing. You can find an agents name by logging into IMDB Pro (if you’re not a member you can sign up for their free trial), or, if you’ve already used your free trial and don’t want to re-join, try searching for their agency on LinkedIn.
The agent you address your email to will make sure your portfolio circulates, so don’t worry about limiting yourself by only adding one agent's name.
In the case of casting directors and job applications, the same rules apply. Be personal, and do your research.
Your letter should take less than 20 seconds to read. Agents and casting directors are extremely busy and they don’t have time to read an essay. Include the most relevant points in one to two short paragraphs, and then let your CV and showreel do the rest of the work.
Include a line or two about something that has happened recently or will happen soon. Some examples would be if you recently graduated from a full time acting program; you were performing on stage in a show (preferably with good reviews); you will be performing on stage in the near future; you will be appearing on the TV show xxx on xxx date.
The bottom line is: If you are booking roles, then the agent will see you as profitable and will want to cash in on potential commissions. On the other hand, if you are applying for an audition, the caster will see that you are a trusted actor who has been cast before. This means they will not be taking any risks by auditioning you.
If you don’t have experience yet, explain that you’ve recently graduated from xxx program.
Always give them the option to call or email you back. Include your phone number and make sure that the email address you’re emailing them from is professional. Perhaps keep the [email protected] for friends and family.
Even though your cover letter needs to be short and to the point, there's always room to add a little personality. A generic cover letter with the right words is good, but a cover letter with a little flare is even better.
Always double-check your email! Spelling is very important. Proofread anything you're going to send out, and if you can, ask a friend or family member to proofread it as well. Make sure every word and name is spelled correctly, especially their name and company name. You want them to look at the information you're providing, not any spelling or grammar errors there may be. Grammarly is a free Chrome extension that automatically checks your spelling and grammar, if you have problems with spelling, try it.
One of the most important things to do when sending your submission is making sure everything you send has your name on it. This includes the CV, headshots and any stills. This ensures that if the files are downloaded and saved anywhere, the caster or agent will know your headshot and CV from a glance, and it won’t get lost.
Here is a sample cover letter that you might send to an agent for representation. This is just a guide and should be edited depending on your own experience and personality.
My name is John. I'm an actor, currently seeking principal representation and would love to meet if you are available for a chat?
My recent highlights include the guest-starring role of ‘Tony’ in the new series All for One. The show is directed by Grace Smith and will air on RTE 1 this Tuesday at 8pm.
I transitioned from a devious older brother in All For One, to a fun-loving young father in the theatre production - Future Times, which opened last night at Lift Theatre Dublin (I’m playing Fred). The show was given 5 stars by Theatre Roof and it will be running for the next three weeks. It would be such a privilege to have you watch me work. Please find a ticket attached.
Here is a link to my showreel for your review. My CV and two headshots are attached.
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.
We hope these tips help you to write a killer acting cover letter!! Don’t forget to let us know how you get on. Good luck :)