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Should My Child do Background Work?


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If you’ve ever asked yourself “Should my child do Background (Extra) work?” My answer is a resounding YES.  Background work is a fine way for any actor to test the waters of the entertainment industry. Taking a couple of extra jobs will help you learn all the “ins and outs” of being on a film set. Most importantly, your child will observe what is expected of the principal actors.

Background jobs can also lead to other opportunities, like union membership, industry connections, and the possibility for an on-set upgrade! A few years ago, I had a student  named Brandy, who was hired as a background artist on a national Pizza Hut commercial. During the shoot, all of the extras were seated behind the principals, munching on the product. The clients noticed Brandy and absolutely loved the way she was eating the pizza. She got upgraded and became a principal  in the spot that made her $16,000 in 6 months! Wow!

I was discovered as an extra. When I lived in San Francisco, I was hired as a background dancer in a commercial for Tab diet soft drink. One of the producers really enjoyed my performance and kept me in mind– soon after, he ended up calling me in for a principal role in a Coca-Cola spot. I got the part, along with my SAG card and a nice, hefty paycheck!

Students ask me if they should let their agent know about the background work they’re doing, and I assure them it isn’t necessary. Your agent won’t see any commission from extra work and you will not earn any residuals either.

Background credits should not be listed on your acting resume. Ultimately, you’ll want to be careful about how much background work you take. You don’t want to become known as an extra instead of the fabulous actor you are! So, try it once or twice, enjoy it, learn from it, but don’t stick around too long!

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