Lurking in the Background Gets You Nowhere and Everywhere

Shhhh. That’s my first thought that comes to mind when I think about lurking in the background. Call it sneaky, creepy or dirty, but to me, staying quiet is a way to observe my surroundings.

How does this help with acting? Keep reading.

As an actor, it’s natural to want to be in the spotlight. To be seen and heard is often the goal of every performer. However, there’s something to be said about lurking in the background and how it can help jumpstart your career. This may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes taking a step back can actually propel you forward.

There are two items at play here:

– Being a background actor

– Just being in the background


Background actors set the scene.

Being a Background Actor

Being a background actor allows you to observe and learn from those in lead roles. You get a behind-the-scenes look at how they navigate scenes and interact with other actors. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to network with other professionals on set who may have connections or opportunities for future work.

By being in the background, you still have the chance to showcase your acting skills without the pressure of carrying a scene or having lines memorized. It allows you to hone your craft without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by larger roles. You play an essential role in making the scene look realistic.

You can pick up tips on body language, acting techniques and how to interact with other actors. Being able to watch other actors can also inspire you to pursue your dreams. Even though it may not seem like much at first glance, every credit counts towards building your acting career.

While being a background actor can be a fun and exciting experience, it can also be challenging. You may have to spend long hours on set without much to do, and the work can be physically demanding. It can also be difficult to maintain your energy and focus during repeated takes of the same scene.

Personal story and note to people with disabilities: My toddlers (at the time) were asked to be background actors on a TV series. The holding area (usually a room or building where the extras hang out when not actually filming) was in a really old church in New York City. To enter the church, we needed to climb a huge set of stairs. Due to grandfather laws, there was no ramp, and also no bathroom on the level where we were being held and no elevators. For us, none of this posed a problem because we were able to climb steps. Before you accept a job, you may want to ask production questions about ramps, bathrooms and any other needs you may have.

Just Being in the Background

If you are trying to break into a new area of acting, or acting in general, lurking in the background can help you gain knowledge and insights about the industry. You can attend industry events, follow successful actors and casting directors on social media and read industry publications to get a better sense of the current trends and opportunities. Let me break this down…

While lurking may not seem like an obvious way to help your acting career, it can actually provide a number of benefits:

  • Gain Insights into Industry Trends: By lurking in acting-related online forums, you can stay up-to-date on industry trends, casting calls and other important information. This can give you a better understanding of the types of roles that are in demand, and help you tailor your skills and abilities accordingly.

  • Learn from Others: By observing other actors and industry professionals in online discussions, you can learn from their experiences and perspectives. This can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t in the acting world, as well as tips for improving your skills.

  • Build Relationships: Even though you may not be actively participating in online discussions, lurking can still provide an opportunity to build relationships with other actors and industry professionals. By following their posts and engaging with them when appropriate, you can begin to establish yourself as a knowledgeable and engaged member of the community.

  • Network: By observing casting calls and production opportunities, you may discover new contacts who can help you advance your career. By following up with them directly, you can begin to build a relationship that may lead to future opportunities.

By lurking on social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram, you can gain valuable insights into the industry and its trends. You can observe how successful actors are presenting themselves online and learn how they interact with fans and colleagues. This information can help you improve your own online presence and understand what casting directors might be looking for in terms of personality.

Lurking Gets You Nowhere If…

Acting is a highly competitive industry, and success often comes to those who are proactive, persistent and willing to put themselves out there. Simply watching from the sidelines or waiting for opportunities to come to you is unlikely to lead to much progress.

Lurking may provide some temporary inspiration or motivation, but it’s not a sustainable approach to achieving your goals as an actor. It’s important to be an active participant in the industry and take ownership of your career if you want to make real progress and succeed.

Lurking Gets You Everywhere If…

Lurking could allow you to gain valuable insight into the industry, learn from others’ mistakes and successes and develop a better understanding of the craft. By observing others, you may be able to pick up on subtle nuances and techniques that can inform your own performances.

Lurking can be a valuable way to build connections and network within the industry. By attending events, shows and workshops, you can meet other professionals and develop relationships that may lead to future opportunities.

It’s important to note that lurking alone is unlikely to lead to significant success in the industry. While it may provide some benefits, ultimately, you must be proactive and take ownership of their career in order to truly succeed. This means actively pursuing auditions, training, and networking opportunities, in addition to quietly observing and learning from others.


Background Acting as a Side Hustle

Why would anyone want to be a background actor as a “living”?

Flexibility: Background acting is often a part-time or freelance job, which can provide individuals with the flexibility to pursue other interests or responsibilities.

Exposure to the film and television industry: Being a background actor can be a way to gain exposure to the film and television industry, and potentially lead to opportunities for larger roles or connections in the industry.

Consistent work: Background actors are often in demand, particularly in areas with a lot of film and television production, which can provide a steady stream of work.

Experience: Background acting can be a way to gain experience on set and learn about the production process, which can be helpful for those who are interested in pursuing other roles in the industry.

Enjoyment: Some people simply enjoy being a background actor and find the work to be fulfilling in its own right.

To succeed as a background actor, it is important to be punctual, professional and flexible. You should always follow directions from the director and the crew and be willing to take on any role, no matter how small.

See projects casting background talent now >

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