5 Benefits of Being a Background Actor

By Webmaster

  • 5 Benefits of Being a Background Actor

    The real question is, why would anyone NOT want to be a background actor?

    (by Jim Webb)


    (Photo: Jon Tyson/Unsplash)

    Who the heck would want to be a background actor?

    The real question is, why would anyone not want to be a background actor (sometimes referred to as an “extra”)? Especially when you’re just beginning your acting journey.

  • Background acting is arguably the best “starter job” an actor can have. It is jam packed with benefits that can make an actor’s career, and life, better and more enjoyable.


    RELATED
    5 Reasons Why Background Acting is a $hitty Job


    Here are just a few benefits:

    #1: Gaining experience

    There is simply no easier way for a new actor to gain experience in the game than to become a background actor. Sure, an actor can gain more training and education in an acting class. But, for a quick and easy way to gain experience on a professional set, with professional actors and a professional crew, nothing can match background acting.

    Even if an actor is lucky enough to leave school and immediately become a working actor, it still might not give the actor the variety of experiences that working background can offer, at least in the very beginning. Bouncing around from set to set, seeing lots of professional actors perform, cannot be matched by anything else.

  • #2: Gaining union membership

    One great benefit of background acting that some actors don’t know about is, it’s a backdoor way to get into SAG-AFTRA. Actors don’t actually have to be “Taft-Hartleyed” to get into the union. An actor can be “vouchered” into the union.

    In that scenario, a non-union actor is chosen to work a union background job. If the actor can manage to rack-up at least three of those union vouchers, they will become eligible to join the union.

    It’s not easy, but it happens more often than you think.

  • #3: Gaining knowledge and making connections in extras holding

    In all large productions, there exists this magical place called “extras holding”, although it may go by many different names. In extras holding, there are lots of would-be actors waiting around to be called to set. While waiting, many conversations are taking place. And a lot of those conversations are centered around the entertainment industry.

    Many questions are asked and answered, like:

    “What’s the best place to get my headshots?”

    “Which agencies should I try to sign with and which agencies should I avoid?”

    “Which acting classes are good and which ones are useless?”

    Extras holding is a terrific place for new actors to exchange information and get up to speed on the business. And, while in extras holding, actors and would-be actors have lots of free time on their hands to socialize and interact. In the process, lots of industry connections and friendships are formed.

    If you’re moving to a city like Los Angeles or New York to pursue a professional acting career, forming these bonds and connections in extras holding can be a valuable opportunity.

  • #4: Gaining perks (money, bumps, free food, free coffee)

    One great reason to do background acting in the beginning of your acting career is, of course, money. Background actors get paid to do “crosses” and perform other simple actions to keep a scene alive and to make it look like real-life. And they get paid reasonably well for it, relative to the work performed.

    Plus, there are other perks. Background actors usually receive free food and coffee, along with “bumps”, extra financial compensation for things like using their vehicles in a scene, being around smoke or performing a special request.

    Background actors can also get “upgraded” to a larger role, such as “featured extra” or, in some cases, they can obtain a small speaking role.

    #5: Gaining confidence

    How cool is it to work on a set with Christian Bale or Johnny Depp or Jessica Chastain? How amazing is it to see a celebrity you grew up watching perform live, right in front of you?

    Not only is it an amazing experience, it is also a confidence-booster. Seeing how the pros do it can give a new actor a certain sense of confidence. You may discover that being a professional, working actor is not as intimidating as you thought. After all, you just saw your favorite actor perform live.

    You think: “I can do that!”


  • You Might Also Like:
    What is a “Background Actor”?


     

    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • What is a Must-Join? 

    What is a Must-Join?  Let’s explore this SAG-AFTRA status… (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Eunice Lituanas | Unsplash) A “Must-Join” is the label placed on actors who have surpassed the grace period (usually 30…

    Bill Nighy: “I still don’t have a process” 

    Bill Nighy: “I still don’t have a process”  (arranged by Carmichael Phillips, excerpts from an interview with Bafta Guru) (Bill Nighy) “I’m old enough to say that I’ve never knowingly been in character…

    Create Your Own Opportunities!

    Create Your Own Opportunities!  What’s your excuse for not producing your own projects and casting yourself?  (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Gianandrea Villa/Unsplash) The advent of things like social media and the internet allows…

    Viola Davis: “I write a bio of the character.”

    Viola Davis: “I write a bio of the character.” Viola Davis describes her character-building and collaboration process (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Viola Davis) “I read the script over and over and over again….

    Do You Have an Acting Mentor? 

    Do You Have an Acting Mentor?  How having a mentor can help you save time, money and your sanity (by Jim Webb) (Photo: neONBRAND/unsplash) You already know that taking acting classes can help…

  • Ad

  • Good News & Bad News for Background Actors

    Good News & Bad News for Background Actors  There are lucrative opportunities for those fortunate enough to find them  (arranged by Carmichael Phillips)  (Photo: Sigmund/Unsplash) There has been lots of bad news for…

    The 3 Main Types of Commercials 

    The 3 Main Types of Commercials  Commercial actors can benefit from understanding the distinctions (by Javier Guerra) A commercial is a commercial is a commercial. They’re all the same, right? Except, they are…

    Ed Harris: “Acting is a lifelong situation.” 

    Ed Harris:  “Acting is a lifelong situation.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Ed Harris in Westworld) “Acting is a lifelong situation…’til you drop dead.” Ed Harris is one of the most successful character actors…

  • Ad

  • The Easiest Way to Improve Your Acting Life? Go to Sleep!

    The Easiest Way to Improve Your Acting Life? Go to Sleep!  The subtle ways that sleep impacts your performance (by Todd Bruce) (Photo: Damir Spanic/Unsplash) Not getting enough sleep at night? Do you…

    The Self-Tape Request from Hell!

    The Self-Tape Request from Hell! Sometimes casting directors ask for far too much! (by The Anonymous Actor) (Photo: Usman Yousaf/Unsplash) Forgive me for saying this, but this self-taping thing has gone too far!…

    10 Reasons Why Being a Modern Actor is Bad Ass

    10 Reasons Why Being a Modern Actor is Bad Ass There simply has never been a better time to be an actor (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Roy Alanwar/Unsplash) Aren’t you glad to be…

    How to Sell Yourself in 10 Seconds or Less

    How to Sell Yourself in 10 Seconds or Less Quick! Sell your acting career in 10 seconds or less! (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: August de Richelieu/Unsplash) Quick! Sell your acting career in 10…

    What is a Right-to-Work State?

    What is a Right-to-Work State?  There are currently 27 Right-to-Work states in the United States (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Joey Csunyo/Unsplash) A right-to-work state is a state that forbids union security agreements. That…

  • Ad

  • 7 Words That Can Trip an Actor Up

    7 Words That Can Trip an Actor Up  Confusing, isn’t it? (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash) As if the acting business was not perplexing enough, there’s always something else to confuse the…

    Edie Falco: “Just make sure you’re always working on something. Representation or not.”

    Edie Falco:  “Just make sure you’re always working on something. Representation or not.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie) “Just make sure you’re always working on something. Representation or not.”…

    The Virtual Audition Waiting Room

    The Virtual Audition Waiting Room “It’s now your turn to audition, please enter Studio B.” (by The Anonymous Actor) (Photo: Vladimir Fedotov/Unsplash) The global pandemic has forced us all to reevaluate the way…

  • Ad

  • The Pandemic Ruined My Actor Life!

    The Pandemic Ruined My Actor Life! But here’s to hoping things get back to normal (by The Anonymous Actor)  (Photo: Cristian Newman/Unsplash) My Last Normal Day…  I can’t remember the exact date. To…

    The Actor’s Job Description

    The Actor’s Job Description  Help wanted. Apply now! (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Yogendra Singh/Unsplash) Help wanted: ACTORS Employer: The Entertainment Industry Salary: $52,000 annually, on average Bonuses: Possibly Millions Benefits: Health and Retirement…

    The Power of Positive Thinking

    The Power of Positive Thinking  Pledge to never allow another negative thought to enter your mind (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Dingzeyu Li/Unsplash) Isn’t it amazing how much our brains can influence us with…

    Deadlines Are DEAD-lines

    Deadlines Are DEAD-lines  Going past deadlines may not get you shot, but they can certainly kill opportunities (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Markus Winkler/Unsplash) Once upon a time, prisons didn’t have high walls with…

    Every Take Should Be Different, Every Performance Should Be Different

    Every Take Should Be Different, Every Performance Should Be Different Always keep this rule in mind (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Rene Ranisch/Unsplash) Here’s an easy way to know whether you are truly acting…

  • Ad

  • Actor Stories: Michael Clarke Duncan Lied on His Résumé to Get His Big Break at Age 42!

    Actor Stories:  Michael Clarke Duncan Lied on His Résumé to Get His Big Break at Age 42!  He left behind an incredible legacy, and an unbelievable actor story (by Carmichael Phillips) (Michael Clarke…

    Get to Know Zoom

    Get to Know Zoom Zoom auditions offer the acting world a lifeline during this ongoing, global pandemic (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Visuals/Unsplash) You ever get a song stuck in your head that you…

    Michael B. Jordan: “After all my auditions, I started throwing my sides away.”

    Michael B. Jordan: “After all my auditions, I started throwing my sides away.” (arranged by AM Staff) (Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station) “After all my auditions, I started throwing my sides away.”…

  • Ad

  • The Latino Actor: An Uphill Battle for Representation and Inclusion

    The Latino Actor:  An Uphill Battle for Representation and Inclusion (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Craig Adderley/Pexels) Of all the underrepresented minority groups in Hollywood, the Hispanic and Latino actor probably faces the steepest…

    The Knock-at-the-Door Exercise

    The Knock-at-the-Door Exercise Its main purpose is to introduce actors to “imaginary circumstances” (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Adrienn/Pexels) The Knock-at-the-Door Exercise is an acting exercise, where one actor engages in a serious, consequential…

    Actor Stories: How Aaron Paul Got His Big Break 

    Actor Stories: How Aaron Paul Got His Big Break  Ten years of darkness before the light finally broke through (by Carmichael Phillips) (Aaron Paul in El Camino) Jesse Pinkman is not his actual…

    The Mirror is Not Your Friend

    The Mirror is Not Your Friend Why you should never rehearse in front of your mirror (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Phinehas Adams/Unsplash) Do you rehearse your lines in front of a mirror? Do…

    5 Essential Budgeting Tips for Actors

    5 Essential Budgeting Tips for Actors Budgeting is a crucial skill in the actor’s life (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Michael Longmire/Unsplash) All you need to do is look at your last W2, the…

    Actor Stories: How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before He Became a Legend 

    Actor Stories:  How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before, He Became a Legend  Nothing, not even cancer, can kill a legend (by Carmichael Phillips) (Chadwick Boseman in Marshall, 2017) Age 43…

    RIP to Chadwick Boseman

    RIP to Chadwick Boseman A fantastic actor, taken much too soon (by Carmichael Phillips) (Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther) The world continues to mourn the loss of Chadwick Boseman, the talented young actor…

    The Most Important Element When Choosing a Monologue

    The Most Important Element When Choosing a Monologue How to choose a monologue that fits you like a glove (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Monica Silvestre/Unsplash) It’s important to choose a monologue that makes…

    Load More