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Why Background Acting is One of the Best Summer Jobs

Get on set to learn why background acting is one of the best summer jobs

*We recently rolled out an online registration process in all of our locations. To register, you must now complete the online portion of registration, then make a reservation to visit our office. For more information, see our article Introducing Central Casting’s Online Registration Process.

Summer break is almost here! For some students, that means sunshine and pool parties, but for others it means looking for summer jobs. Fortunately, working as a Background Actor gives you the opportunity to do both.

What does a Background Actor do?

A Background Actor (also called extra, background talent, and atmosphere) is someone who performs in a show in a nonspeaking role, usually in the background. Background Actors are essential to making movies and TV shows feel authentic.

Central Casting casts Background Actors to appear in movies, TV shows, and many other types of productions. We also cast a variety of other roles, including Stand-Ins and doubles. A Stand-In is a person who takes the place of a principal actor for rehearsals, camera blocking, or lighting setups.

Doubles are used for a variety of reasons. When an actor plays two or more characters in a scene, a double will take the place of one of the characters and will be digitally replaced by the actor in post-production. Hand doubles are used when a character has a special skill, like playing the piano, that the actor cannot convincingly portray. Doubles are also often used when working with children to help keep production working while principal child actors are at school or fulfilling other requirements.

Benefits of working as a Background Actor

If a flexible schedule and working on set are what you’re looking for in summer jobs, then background work is a great fit for you. As a Background Actor, you can choose your own availability, so if you have a fun trip planned or you just want to head to the beach for the day, you can choose not to pursue jobs for those dates. That said, once you accept a job offer and are given details, you are expected to show up to set on time and ready to work.

Background work gives you a front row seat to how movies and TV shows are made and an opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Whether you’re pursuing a full-time career in the entertainment industry or just want a peek behind the scenes, you can learn a lot by being a Background Actor.

How to register

To become a Background Actor with Central Casting you’ll need to register at one of our offices in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia, or Louisiana. At registration, you’ll fill out forms, listen to an orientation, and take your casting photo. For more information on where and when to register, check out our Register page and choose your nearest location.


In order to register with Central Casting, you must present the required documentation to accompany the I-9 form. We will not be able to register you if you don’t have the correct documentation. Please review the Lists of Acceptable Documents before coming to registration.

Reservations - Central Casting New York

In April 2018, Central Casting New York moved into our new office at 5 Penn Plaza. Due to security policies in our new building, you can only visit Central Casting when you have a reservation. You can reserve a spot at one of our registration or Updates sessions on our calendar page. We’re currently only scheduling sessions a limited time in advance, so keep checking back as new dates open up every day.


Summer break is a great time to register your child with Central Casting. We hire minors 15 days old to 17 years old to work in our productions. To register, bring your child and their required I-9 documentation to your nearest Central Casting office. (Note: Central Casting is an E-Verify participant; the non-photo ID options in List B on the Lists of Acceptable Documents are not applicable for use for employers participating in the E-Verify program.)

While minors do not need a work permit to register with Central Casting, they will need a work permit in order to be booked for jobs.

Our article How to Get Your Child on TV and Movies has more detailed information on what you need to register your minor.

How to find work

You can find all the jobs we’re currently casting on our job posts page. Select your location to see all the up to date postings from Casting Directors. Be sure to read the entire post before submitting yourself for the role!

Casting Directors may send you a text message checking your availability. Please respond “yes” or “no” to the message as soon as you can. You may also receive a follow up text with additional questions or information. Read our texting guide for everything you need to know about texting with Central Casting.

Now that you know why background acting is one of the best summer jobs, learn how you can be successful by reading through our starter guide and learning about getting paid.

Another advantage of being a Background Actor? Getting the chance to work with The Rock! Watch him give a shout out to Central Casting Background Actors who worked on Ballers.

Categories: Industry Essentials

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