Building and maintaining relationships with producers, directors, writers, and casting directors is the surefire way to carve a path for your career. While working as an extra may give you a sense of working on-set, it is not your “in” to a career. The concept of “getting noticed” is a recipe for disaster, as it’s so passive—it’s putting your success in the hands of a “notice-er.” While we might each know a few stories of extras who became recurring characters on sitcoms, or who ended up delivering lines in major motion pictures, they are by far the minority.
Doing extra work in the hopes of someone noticing your look or your abilities is the opposite of hard work and sharing your talent. You get noticed when you create your own work or add something of value to the equation. Getting noticed is proportionate to the amount of work you put into it.
Back in the day, extra work could be a good path to getting SAG vouchers—nowadays it’s way more effective to create a Web series, or some form of original content. I’m not devaluing extra work; it can be valuable in showing new actors the inner-workings of a professional movie set. However, there’s a dangerous element to it as well. It can be too comfortable and too safe for the developing actor. You don’t want to grow too accustomed to being an extra, and unfortunately far too many actors do.
This article was originally posted on Backstage