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  • Writer's pictureSophia Thompson

Being an Extra vs Big Character

Hi, and welcome back to Sophie’s Choice, where I give you my personal input on all

things casting!

In the honour of the first installment of Sophie’s Choice, I would like to say a couple things about myself. Firstly, I have been on both sides of casting, both the actor and the poor poor soul that has to go through every single casting video and choose who is getting through to the next round. Both jobs are extremely stressful and that’s why I’m here to talk you through it and give you my personal experience in writing. Secondly, I believe that not everything I say will be the same for everyone and not everyone will relate to whatever I have to say so just keep in mind that not all experiences are going to be exactly the same to you. Thirdly, I only want to help and if my choice isn’t the right one for you, that’s completely fine, we all have our journeys and experiences that we go through and not all of them will have the same outcome and we most certainly won’t agree on everything.

And fourthly, we’re all here to have fun, so I’ll keep it lighthearted and to the point! :-)

With all this said, let’s go ahead and get into the first topic of Sophie’s Choice. Today I’ll be doing a run down on being an extra vs being a big character on a show, film, or commercial. In my personal experience with acting, being a big character is always the goal but is it really the right path for you?

Being an Extra

Being an extra is always fun. You get to meet new people on all these projects and if you’re on a project that has intricate makeup or set it’s always fun to look around and see all the other characters without making a big fuss about everything that you’re doing. Sometimes it’s low effort and sometimes it can be challenging but the truth is it’s always a nice quick glimpse into the project and is a great experience. I think one of the best things about being an extra, is that it’s just a quick job. Something that you don’t even have to be over prepared for and it still makes a lot of sense. You can come and go and you don’t have to worry about not having time for other things like if you have an extra job.

It’s a great hobby to have and a great opportunity to do things and meet people that you would have never met without it.

It’s also pretty much very quick money for basically just walking back and forth for a couple hours! On the other hand, the fact that it’s short can have its downsides. You don’t get to know the people around you as much as when you work on a project for a longer period of time and you’re not that involved in the making of said project. The other problem is that you never know when you’ll get the next job but to be fair, you never know in this business when you’ll have your next job so it's best to be prepared for anything.

Being BIG Character

Being the main character has so much to offer too though. It’s still extremely fun and you get to make long time friendships along the way. The moneys great and it challenges you in a way that being an extra can’t. It gives you the chance to explore the character and give yourself a backstory and really understand the character rather than just being Guard#1. But it can also be super time consuming and emotionally draining if you delve into the character too much. It’s a lot of work but if you’re willing to put the effort in, it is extremely worth every second.

Both being an extra and big character is super fun and important to a project. It couldn’t happen without you and everyone involved. No matter how small your part is or how big your part is the show will not go on without you and it's amazing when people come together like this to make a project that everyone loves.

I’d say that, if you mostly do work as an extra try going for something bigger once and see how it goes and if you’ve always strived for the bigger parts give being an extra a chance because they are both extremely fun and you get to experience things that you haven’t done before. They both give something to your life that was missing before and it feels good to just be a part of the new world each project creates.

Sophie’s Choice

My personal choice would be an extra. But that’s because I like trying new things and being a main character isn’t always the way to go to try new characters and meet new people,

you get to create your own character out of the thin air, give them a backstory, give them a special walk. How do they smile? Do they have a family? Do they have a tragic life? Why are they there? Are they rushing to a meeting? No one will ever know. But you will and you get to enjoy your afternoon pretending to be a CEO of a big company stressing out over having to fire your assistant because let’s face it, she got your coffee order wrong and you just can’t deal with that today.

And that’s that on that!

Sophie out!


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