AD/CD: Advice for Background Actors
Our series AD/CD gives Assistant Directors and Casting Directors an opportunity to discuss the world of Background Actors, Stand-Ins, and doubles from each side of production. They offer a behind the scenes look at how you can be successful from booking a job to being a pro on set.
This installment of AD/CD features Assistant Director Michele Azenzer Bear and Central Casting Los Angeles Casting Director Nikki H.
Michele Azenzer Bear graduated from Cal State University Northridge with a degree in Radio/Television/Film. Michele has recently worked as a First Assistant Director on shows like Besties, The Great Indoors, and Mike & Molly.
Nikki and Michele offer background acting advice to help you be a professional Background Actor. Whether you’ve been on set hundreds of times or are trying to get your first booking, knowing what’s expected of you is a big part of being successful.
“I’ve been doing this for such a long time, I can tell within ten seconds if someone is just showing up and phoning it in or if somebody actually wants to be there,” Michele says. “So what I really like is when somebody shows up on time. If I’m waiting on them that’s really a problem for me because my whole job is about time management.”
Being on time is a crucial part of being a Background Actor. Remember to check for call time changes often, like before you go to bed, when you wake up in the morning, and before you leave for set. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to factor in traffic, parking, or public transportation delays to ensure you arrive to set on time.
“[Being on time is something] we really should stress 100 times over,” Nikki said.
Another piece of background acting advice from Michele is to be present and have a good attitude.
“[Come] to work with the intention of contributing to the production,” Michele said. “I look for Background Actors who actually want to be there, who listen, who follow directions, who understand what it is they can lend to production.”
People become Background Actors for a variety of reasons, from wanting to be principal actors to getting a chance to work on their favorite movies and TV shows. If you make the most of your time on set, you never know where it might lead.
“Something I would want to tell every Background Actor is every show is a new beginning, it’s a new chance to really reinvent yourself,” Michele said. “You just never know what a new day is going to bring, it could be a new opportunity.”