What is a comp or zed card?

If you want to become a professional actor or model, one of the first things you’ll need is a Comp card. In fact, having a professional and well done comp card may be the single most important thing you bring with you to any audition or go-see. New and younger actors and models are often intimidated by this, fearing that a comp card is something mysterious or difficult to obtain. The truth is, comp cards are very easy to create, and this article will help dispel the mysteries surrounding them.

A comp card is essentially a photographic business card that represents an actor or model. Agencies and clients will often keep a comp card on file for every actor or model they see, and use it for casting and marketing purposes. A comp card, (or “Zed” or “Sed” card,) is a very specific type of business card with industry wide standards. In the professional world, a comp card serves as an extension of your resume, and should be respected accordingly. Creative or unusual comp cards are never recommended, and generally reflect on you poorly, or risk disrespecting the casting team.

Most commonly, a comp card is 5.5” by 8.5” and is printed on a heavy card stock. One side should be a full page headshot, and the back side should include four alternate photos, each with a different look or style that highlights the strengths and talents of the applicant. Additionally, the card should include contact details and measurements such as Hair color, Eye color, Height, Chest, Waist, Hips, and Shoe size, for example. The design and layout may vary slightly depending on if you are seeking modeling or acting jobs, so be sure to research and look up some examples of comp cards in your field, that represent others that are similar to you.

Professional photos are recommended, as keep in mind, this comp card will be your main representation once you are no longer face to face with the casting team. Once you have established five photos to market yourself with, you’ll need to work with a printing service that offers comp cards as a printed option. This is more common than you may think, and can often be accomplished entirely online with a small fee. Keep in mind you’ll be leaving these as your calling card, so make sure to print up plenty of extras so you always have a copy on hand when you may need it, to offer any potential client or networking contacts!