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Special Skills

Created by: TDFDICTIONARY Date: Apr 04, 2016


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I can do that!

Civilians may not think of having a driver’s license as a special skill, but any actor who knows how to drive lists that on his résumé — and if he can handle a stick shift, even better! You never know when that will come in handy for a role, and not just in action flicks. Remember, as Coalhouse in the original Broadway production of Ragtime, Brian Stokes Mitchell actually steered a vintage Model T onstage.

Special skills are things performers can do other than acting that might help them get a part. They’re listed at the very bottom of a theatrical résumé, and they vary widely — maybe too much so. Being able to play an instrument, juggle, speak another language fluently, swing on a trapeze, or do a proper British accent might all come in handy, depending on the part you’re going for. However, judging from this hilariously awful roundup of the worst “special skills” one casting director has seen, this section sometimes serves as a dumping ground for useless “information” (or failed humor). Note: Unless you’re under a year old, it’s not necessary to list “walking.”


But before you decide that putting down special skills is just a waste of time, there are definitely some success stories. The New York Times talked to a handful of actors about their special skills and, in a few cases, their oddball abilities helped them land roles. For example, character actress Karen Murphy’s claim to be an “Off-Key Soprano Wonder” was very useful for her stint as Florence Foster Jenkins — the least talented chanteuse to ever croon at Carnegie Hall — in an out-of-town engagement of Souvernir. Meanwhile, Jeremy Abram learned to swallow fire as a teen for his role in a Louisiana mounting of Forever Plaid, and he’s gone on to do it three more times onstage.


This video was created by TDF and Fight or Flight Theater.

  • Directed by Mark Blankenship
  • Shot and edited by Nicholas Guldner
  • Starring John Behlmann, Daniel Loeser, and Richard Thieriot


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