How to Be a Background Actor in a Movie or TV Show

OCTOBER 3, 2021
Learn how to be an extra in a movie.
Extras cast by Central Casting Georgia in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony Pictures)

Whether you’re looking for a way into the entertainment industry or you just want to work behind the scenes, being a Background Actor gives you the chance to get on set. Here’s everything you need to know about registering at a Talent Onboarding session and how to be an extra in a movie or TV show.

What is a Background Actor?

An extra, more commonly referred to as a Background Actor, is someone who performs in a production in a nonspeaking role, usually in the background. Background Actors help make scenes look and feel more authentic. After all, restaurants, football games, and city streets would just look like movie sets without Background Actors to give them life.

When working as a Background Actor, Stand-In, or double with Central Casting, you have the chance to share screen time with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars in films like Avengers: Endgame, Coming 2 America, and Queenpins and TV series like black-ish, New Amsterdam, The Resident, and The Secrets of Sulphur Springs. You can see some of the recent projects we’ve worked on by checking out our credits section.

Is there a difference between a Background Actor and an extra?

From the beginnings of the film industry until the early 1990s, background talent were most often referred to as extras. In 1992, when the primary extras union merged with the Screen Actors Guild (now SAG-AFTRA), extras began to prefer the term Background Actor. Within the entertainment industry you’re more likely to hear Background Actor, though extras and atmosphere may also be used on set.

Working as a Background Actor

Central Casting is the leading and original background casting company in the United States. If you’re looking to work as a Background Actor, we’re the place to start. For the chance to be cast in our movies and TV shows, make a reservation for a Talent Onboarding session with one of our offices in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia, or Louisiana. Registering at a Talent Onboarding session is free and easy!

Required Documentation

Everyone who signs up with Central Casting must present the required documentation for the Form I-9. We cannot onboard you without these original unexpired documents, so be sure to read through the Lists of Acceptable Documents before making a reservation.


Central Casting also casts babies from 15 days old to teenagers 17 years old to work on our productions. Minors must meet the same Form I-9 requirements as adults and are required to either present one original unexpired List A document, or an original unexpired List B and List C document combination. If presenting a List B document to an employer that participates in E-Verify (Central Casting), the employer can only see/use a List B document that includes a non-detachable photo of the minor.

While your child does not need a work permit to register with Central Casting, they will need one in order to be booked. Work permit processes vary by state, you can learn about your location’s requirements in our article Ensure Your Minor is Eligible to Be Booked by Central Casting.

Updating your online profile

Once you’ve completed Talent Onboarding and we’ve verified your eligibility, you will need to access your online profile. Just click the log in button in our website menu, then choose the “create new login” option. After logging in, be sure to fill out your profile with as much accurate information as possible. Our Casting Directors use this information when determining if you’re the right fit for a role.

If you registered prior to January 1, 2021 and have not yet logged into your online profile, you can do so by selecting the “claim profile” option on the log in screen.

Ready to get booked and on the sets of your favorite movies and TV shows? Learn how to get booked by Central Casting in our articles A Starter Guide to Background Work and Avail Messages: What You Need to Know.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

Article Category:

Industry Essentials