Should an actor do extra work?

Extras, sometimes called background or atmosphere, are those folks behind the stars in almost every scene you see in a movie or television show. They are the folks walking by on the street, or driving down the road, or eating dinner next to the stars in a restaurant.

Acting is a tough business and some could argue that extra work is the toughest in terms of self-esteem. Often, background actors are herded like cattle, pointed at and called by “you an the blue shirt” and told to stand here or walk there.

So why do it?

When I first went out to Los Angeles and didn’t have a credit to my name, it was about the only acting work I could find. I wanted to be acting so badly that I felt anything was better than nothing.

What I discovered is just how rich a learning experience background work can be. There are advantages to be invisible!  I learned so much about acting, about different directing styles, about the technical aspects such as lighting, sound, camera angles, etc.

I came to appreciate extra work as paid training with good food.


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