People are always talking about ‘Should actors do extra work? Should they not do extra work?’ And that is partially a personal question, and actually it can be a business type of question as well.
I can tell you that if you’re living in the Los Angeles area, most of the agents that I know prefer that their talent not do any extra work. Because, in that particular market, it’s easy to be labeled as an extra and it will be very difficult to start booking principal acting jobs if you’re constantly doing extra work.
In New York, people do freelance a little bit more and there are some actors that might do extra work one day, and then also get a chance to audition as well. I guess part of it is you don’t want to make doing extra work your sole income if you are trying to get principal work as well.
There are people that do try to make a living from just doing extra work. And in other markets especially the ones that I know of on the East Coast and I’m sure another area as well, there are people who do extra work one day and could be featured and getting principal work and contracts on TV shows and films another day. If you do decide to take on extra work, one of things that I would highly recommend doing is try to learn as much as you possibly can.
There’s a television series that I decided to accept a couple days of extra work on and it was incredible because I was placed in a very specific group of people. I was right next to the monitor with the director and I’m watching and listening to the director. I’m watching the monitor.
Getting an opportunity to observe some amazing actors and just seeing how they prepare, how they do the scenes, what changes they make, what does the director say to them, how do they make the adjustments.
So, it was a really…it was a great educational experience for me and the other thing too is always great to network with other actors as well. You’re there with a number of other actors – talk! Ask them questions, whether it’s about some of the new agents in the area, what projects are coming up, are there any independent films going on, who were some of the really good headshot photographers in the area, what classes are really good, and in general, learn from others experiences.
So it’s just a really good opportunity to get an education and really learn more about the industry. But once again, I’m not endorsing doing extra work. There are some actors I know who refuse to do it. They find it demeaning. They don’t believe that they will make enough money and I completely understand that so I’m not endorsing it. But I am saying that if you do decide to take on extra work, make sure you get the most out of it.