Essentials for the Actor Go Bag

shutterstock_1419565976We’ve all been there. That spontaneous meet and greet, the audition where someone unexpected shows up, and you get asked the million-dollar question: “Do you have another headshot?”


If you know the sinking feeling that accompanies a shameful “no,” you know how important it is to always carry extra headshots on you. But what else should you have at hand to keep you prepared? Below is a list of items that can save your skin in a pinch. Keep them in the trunk of your car, in your actor duffle bag, wherever they will be at the ready.


    1. Headshot Kit. We’re not just talking headshots. No sir. We are talking current commercial and theatrical shots, multiples, with updated resumes attached to the backs. We’re talking extra loose resumes in multiple formats–theatre, film, commercial, already cut to 8×10. Create a headshot kit: scissors, stapler, reinforced folders to keep headshots and resumes clean and unwrinkled, so you can assemble more at a moment’s notice. Remember to replace supplies once you use them.
    2. Audition Clothes. It is always a good idea to have one or two changes of audition clothes in case of an emergency. There will come that fateful day when you spill coffee on your top as you’re walking in, or forget the right pair of shoes, and having extra options in your car can save you. If you want to throw in a tide pen and a lint roller, all the better.
    3. Water bottle. Stay hydrated, fools. Don’t underestimate it.
    4. Snack. Auditions often run longer than anticipated. You don’t want to start crashing right before you walk in. Keep some protein bars or similar snacks on hand to keep you fueled up.
    5. Hair/makeup supplies. Yes, gents too. Make sure to include a mirror. If it’s been a long day or you get caught in the rain, you’ll want to touch up before heading into the room.
    6. Umbrella. Don’t get caught in the rain.
    7. Highlighters. And pencils. And a nice pen. Basically anything you might want to mark up sides on the fly or fill out an audition sign-in sheet. It never hurts to be prepared.
    8. Earbuds. Or a book, or whatever keeps you calm and focused while you’re waiting around for an audition. Personally, even if I’m not playing music, I like having earbuds on hand to discourage people from talking to me when I’m trying to focus in the waiting room.




As you gain more experience, you’ll find ways to personalize your actor’s emergency kit. There are no rules, so whatever works for you goes. This is just one more way to set yourself up for success and give you a measure of control in an industry that often feels chaotic. You may not be able to predict the outcome, but you can always be prepared.

By Rachel

Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *