New Background Acting Skills You Can Learn Now

MAY 4, 2020
A woman and man practicing background acting skills.

While social distancing many of us are catching up on TV, trying new hobbies, and connecting with friends, but there are also steps you can take to ensure you’re ready when production resumes. We spoke to Casting Directors from all four of our offices to find out what background acting skills you can learn now to help you get on set.

Practice common hairstyles and makeup

Background Actors are usually tasked with doing their own hair for a role, even for period pieces, which means one day you may be responsible for a modern formal look and the next a 1940s ’do. Depending on your current hair length and cut, there are likely a variety of classic and modern styles you can create at home. If you need a little help, search for styling tutorials on YouTube for all eras and hair lengths.

For women booked on period shows, you’ll often be asked to come to set with your hair in rollers to be styled by production. Knowing how to use rollers and how long the process takes will set you up for success on set.

Like with hair, there are many different makeup looks you will need to put together. When you’re booked, your Details Blog will include specifics on what production is looking for, but being familiar with common looks from every decade will help you save time when you’re getting ready for a booking.

Know how to accurately measure yourself

Having your correct measurements is extremely important to Casting Directors, especially when casting doubles or when production is providing wardrobe. Accurate measurements are essential in these cases so you don’t submit and show up to set for a role you don’t fit. If you’re not sure how to figure out your sizes, our Measurements page has easy to follow video tutorials to teach you how to take common measurements.

If your child is registered with Central Casting, be sure to update their sizes often as they can change quickly. Check out the Updates section of our Kids page for more information on how to update your child’s sizes online.

Learn basic clothes mending

Having a variety of wardrobe options is key to being a professional Background Actor. So is showing up to set (unless otherwise indicated for the role) in clean and unwrinkled clothes. Learning the basics of how to mend clothing will help you keep your favorite go-to options and will ensure you show up to your call camera ready. Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Knowing how to mend clothing can help you add wardrobe to your arsenal that you may have previously overlooked. Did you find a perfect thrift store blazer with a missing button? Have old jeans you can add patches to for a ’70s look? With your new mending skills, you can turn these into inexpensive new looks to add to your closet.

Familiarize yourself with common talents

Background Actors are often cast for their look and ability to portray certain roles. If you have some free time, now is your chance to familiarize yourself with commonly booked talents. Scroll through our Instagram or check out our credits to see the kinds of roles we commonly cast. See a lot of yoga scenes, dancing calls, or skating submissions? Being familiar with these talents may help you get on set as a Background Actor or double.

For more background acting skills and tips on getting booked, read our article How to Be Prepared When Production Resumes and keep an eye on our Notices for updates.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

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