First Time on Chicago PD

First Time on Chicago PD

Yesterday was the first time on Chicago PD for me!  I have been submitting and submitting for them and finally they chose me.  The above picture was taken at my home but that is the outfit I wore for my role as a “steakhouse restaurant patron.”

First Time on Chicago PD

First Time on Chicago PD
Chicago PD’s area at Cinespace

I was pretty excited to work on PD yesterday.  I love working on new (to me) shows.  It’s so interesting to see the different directors, crew, and actors for each show.  Our day began at Cinespace.  You can click here to read about Cinespace, the studio for so many Chicago productions.  Their website states, “Cinespace Chicago Film Studios is a family-owned company based in Chicago specializing in the development, management and operation of studio space and support facilities for the film, television, and digital media production industry.”  There is a lot to look at here and you can find some great photos too.  So we checked in, saw wardrobe, had a great hot breakfast, and then it was on the bus to the holding on Taylor Street.

First Time on Chicago PD
The Drum and Monkey pub on Taylor Street

PD was filming in two different Taylor Street restaurants and our holding was in a Taylor Street Pub called The Drum & Monkey.  It was a nice place and very comfortable for the long, long time I spent in holding that day.  I could see myself going here if I lived in this area.  Click here to check it out.  I only saw the restaurant I was able to work in.  Called Davanti Enoteca, it also looked like a place I would go.  They had some sample food out so we could pretend we were eating and although it had probably been sitting there for some time, it looked delicious.  We were able to take a peek at the menu too.  Looked very yummy.  Their website can be found by clicking here.

Not Much Time on Camera

Unfortunately, I didn’t have very much time on scene at all.  I worked the one scene but was quite a distance from the main action.  Me and another guy, Danny, did have a good time as he was quite funny but I’m sure I will not be seen on TV.  I did enjoy seeing Eriq La Salle as the director of this episode.  He was one of my favorites from the show ER.  He seemed like he was a pretty nice guy, as did Jason Beghe, the man who plays Hank Voight.  I saw him talking to a couple of extras which doesn’t always happen.  We’re not

First Time on Chicago PD
One of my new background friends

supposed to talk to the actors and they usually don’t make it a point to talk to us so it’s nice when they do.  Just from watching him, I think he is probably a pretty fun guy.

Other than that, I wasn’t used in the second restaurant scene and spent most of the day in holding.  As my mom says, “The pay is the same,” which is true but it’s not as fun as watching how the shows are made.  I do have to say, however, that it was a good day in holding.  I met some new background artist friends and we had some great conversations.  That is one thing I like about being an extra, the people I meet.

So all in all, it was a fun day with some really nice people even though I wasn’t used very much at all.  Hey, better than not using me even once because that too can happen.  Hopefully, I’ll soon have another chance to work on Chicago PD and have some fun things to say about it.  Thanks for reading  I’ll post as soon as I have another role.  With the holidays, the productions will be taking time off so it may be a couple of weeks.  Merry Christmas!!!

First Time on TV

Remember last week when I said I hadn’t yet seen myself on TV?  Well, that same evening I was watching Chicago Med and there I was!  Nobody who knows me would have noticed it was me, but I still felt pretty good about seeing myself for the first time on TV!

Chicago Med

The above picture is from the third time I worked on Chicago Med.  I told you about the first in the previous post; the one where Mom and I both worked as shoppers.  This one was an outdoor scene that was shot out in front of Rush Hospital in Chicago.  The second time I worked on Med was the same but I wasn’t seen on that episode.  Just this past week I worked for the fourth time and it was another outdoor scene, but at McCormick Place, not Rush.  And some exciting stuff happens on that one but since it hasn’t aired, I can’t yet reveal any secrets!

But back to the episode from the above picture.  It was just an okay day as far as the work day went.  We met in holding in a building about a block or so away.  After checking in and getting our wardrobe approved, we headed over to the hospital.  Some background actors received scrubs and other hospital garments but I was supposed to be an administrator so I was in my own clothes.  We were supposed to have nicer fall jackets and I didn’t have one so Mom and I headed to the thrift store earlier that week.  Luckily, I found two that I really liked for super cheap.  And I needed a nice fall coat that I could wear anyway.  I am finding that I love thrift stores to find my extra work wardrobe.  You really can find great deals on awesome clothes.  And since you need some diverse pieces so you can have lots of looks, it helps that you don’t have to spend full price.

Once at Rush, we have a smaller holding area blocked off from the main lobby.  Since it’s small and right in the hospital’s main entrance, we have to leave most of our stuff at the other place.  I had a small bag with a book and my iPad, but I find it hard to read with so much going on around me.  I really like it when there are some fun and talkative other extras because that makes it a little more entertaining for me.  Which was the case here so most of the time in holding I was having conversations and comparing our extra experiences.

The scene I shot took a good two hours or so to shoot but after that, I wasn’t really used much so spent most of the day in holding.  And they had us there for eight hours.  But that’s my life in the background.  You never know how it’s going to go.  Another reason this was just an okay day was that the timing didn’t work out for the full buffet lunch experience.  They did bring us pizza which kind of made me unhappy.  I have been trying to lose weight and the extra thick crust would not have been my choice.

First Time on TV
My step-dad, Jim, as an Uber driver. You can see him so clearly!

Not Just My First Time on TV

My mom and I had my step-dad, Jim, apply for a featured role on Chicago Fire as a crotchety old man.  He had never, ever worked before as an extra but he was chosen and played an Uber driver.  So the same night I saw myself, we then watched Chicago Fire and there he was!  Both of us on the same night.  The only thing I didn’t like was that I had also worked as a featured extra on the same episode of Chicago Fire but wasn’t seen on screen.  So at least someone from my family was!  Now we just have to see Mom!

Working With Mom


Working with my mom
Mom and I in holding for Chicago Med


One of the fun things about my experience as an extra is working with my mother, Nancy.  Working with mom is super fun and I’m hoping to do more of it.

Working With Mom

Mom and I have only been able to work with each other twice.  The first time we both worked on Chicago Med.  The scene was at the gorgeous Bloomingdale Home Store which

Working with Mom
Mom getting her hair touched up in holding for Proven Innocent.

used to be the Medinah Temple.  It’s a Chicago landmark that now has a new life thanks to Bloomingdales turning it into a store in 2003.  So that was pretty cool, being able to be in the store after hours.  For Chicago Med, it was supposed to be the department store owned by the character Cornelius Rhodes, the father of one of the principals, Dr. Connor Rhodes.

But the scene never made it into the episode!  Mom and I were pretty amazed that with all of the work that went into that scene, it wasn’t used.  It must have cost a fortune to rent the building and pay all of the cast and crew, including us–although we don’t make much at all.  And we were right behind the actors, center scene, pretending to shop while they spoke at a table.  We thought for sure you would be able to spot us on the show.  In fact, I haven’t yet seen myself on any show, which is fine as they still pay me.  But in all honesty, it would be pretty cool.  I’m sure it will happen soon enough.

Best Mother/Daughter Duo Around

Working with Mom
Holding for the set of Proven Innocent

At least we think so!  We do look quite a bit alike so if production is looking for a mother/daughter duo, we’re perfect.  Hopefully, production will think so too.  The second time we worked together was just this week on Proven Innocent, a Fox show that will air beginning in February, 2019.  It’s so nice having someone to hang out with during those long hours in holding.  I have only lived in the same area as my mother in the last five or so years so it’s super special that she is taking the time to share in my new little endeavor.  She’s even worked on her own, driving herself into the city from her home in the Northwest suburbs.  Thanks Mom!  I love working with you!

The Buffet

I told you about my first call with 300 other extras.  My second job, however, only had about 40 of us and it is here I found out about the buffet.

The Buffet

I was surprised on my first job that the other extras were complaining that they hadn’t been fed yet.  They finally gave us a boxed lunch.  It was okay.  But since I wasn’t expecting anything I was pretty happy.  I had no idea that you usually get a meal when you work.  So it was on my second job, which was for a Netflix show called Easy, that I discovered the buffet.  There is always a caterer on set and a meal is almost always provided.  Most of the time.

It really depends on how long you work and also, the hours you work.  I haven’t really figured out all the ins and outs but all in all, I have eaten quite well since starting my life in the background.  And I’m going to have to tame it down a bit.  Unfortunately, I need to lose some weight and having all the good food right in front of me isn’t helping.  In addition to a good buffet meal, they sometimes bring in pizza.  Pizza is also not a good thing for my waist line.  But when you’ve been working and you’re beginning to become hangry, it’s pretty hard to turn it down.

The Buffet healthy choice
My healthy choices! I’m so proud of me.

Commit to healthy eating

There are some healthy options that I will need to stick with if I don’t want to gain another ten pounds.  There is always a salad bar option and quite often, there is a fish option.  And you can usually find some great vegetable dishes too.  This picture shows the healthy meal I had last week when working on Proven Innocent, a Fox mid-season release coming soon.  So, if I can focus on those foods, I should be able to stay on tract.  Except for the dessert table.  Walking by that is going to be a struggle!  If you look closely at the picture, there is a small slice of chocolate cheesecake.  Who can pass up chocolate cheesecake?! And as far as pizza goes, I will either have to keep some healthier options in my bag or at least limit my portions.  But I do love pizza!


How do I find more work?

How do I find more work? set photo
Taken last week on the set of Proven Innocent. Great Chicago Skyline in the background.

I’ve been working steadily about once a week for the past couple of months.  But how do I find more work?  I would love to work at least 2 or 3 times a week and I know it can be done because I talk to people who do so.  So this post is here to brainstorm ways of finding more work.

How do I find more work?

These are the top 5 ways that I have learned so far in finding work as an extra.  Hopefully we’ll be able to increase this list when my blog goes public and will, hopefully, have some readers who know more than I do about the background artist industry.

1.  Keep your profile up to date.

As I stated in the previous post, 4 Star Casting has an online POP Profile that you should complete as thoroughly as possible.  This includes all of your sizes!  Yes, get out that tape measure.  You will need it.  Be sure to update the availability calendar too.  I’m not sure but I suspect it’s an algorithm that spits out who is available and generates availability checks.  So marking yourself as available might be better than leaving the dates blank.

2.  Keep your photos up to date and change often.

You need to have current photos of how you look now.  I would love to provide pictures from ten years ago when I was younger and skinnier but they need to see what you look like right now.  And don’t keep sending the same photos over and over.  Give the casting agents various photos in various styles.  You should have a business look, an evening wear look, a casual look, and any other look you can think of.  I’ve seen posts looking for homeless types, so even a no-make-up, very sloppy dirty clothes look would be appropriate.

3.  Bring along good wardrobe choices.

You should always have at least 3 choices of outfits for the wardrobe person to choose from.  Don’t bring super bright colors or crazy patterns unless asked to.  Pay attention to the wardrobe notes and bring appropriate choices.  You wouldn’t want them not to hire you again because you are known for showing up with either bad choices or no choices.

4.  Follow the casting agency’s social media and try and submit as quickly as possible to any listings.

Most of the agencies that I know of at this time post calls on their Facebook pages.  You can set your FB to see those posts first or to have a notification if there is a post from them.  I really wanted to take a social media break during this crazy political climate but that is the only way I can find jobs.  Maybe I should have a Facebook account that I only use for following the casting agencies.  What do you think?

5.  Pay attention on the set and listen to all directions.

They’re not going to want to work with you if you are not going to listen to what they need from you and do it without complaining.  You know you’re an extra, not the star of the show, so don’t expect to be treated like one.  Of course we should all be treated fairly and in my experience, I have been.  But I have seen some people who act like they’re doing the show a huge favor by being there.  Remember, it’s a job.  Do your job.

Let Me Know

Let me know what you think about the above 5 ways to find more background acting jobs.  How do I find more work? has been my question since I began this journey and I hope to add to this list as I go along.  Any additions would be greatly appreciated.


My Life as a Background Actor

Thanks for joining me and reading about my life as a background actor.  My goal for this blog is to offer advice on being an extra, receive advice on being an extra, and finally, to log my experiences.  Someday, I’ll read this and say, “Wow! I remember that!

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.     Michelangelo

My Life as a Background Actor

My Life as a Background Actor Mike and I
My husband and I at Wrigley Field a year before my first background job.

So I began this journey back in June, 2018 at Wrigley Field, one of my all time favorite places.  There’s nothing like Wrigley in the summer!  So when I was hired to play a baseball fan, I was pretty excited.  I had no idea what to expect but went with an open mind.  The weather was gorgeous and since my husband and I go there on a regular basis, I knew exactly where to go and where to park.  Yes, when you work as an extra they provide parking!  At no cost to you!  After parking, I grabbed my wardrobe bag and headed to the park.

And there was a huge line!  Yep, my first ever background job was with about 300 other extras.  The check in process went pretty smoothly and I was impressed how quickly they were able to get us all through.  What I didn’t realize before I went was that we all had different call times (the time you are supposed to check in).  Mine was the latest at 11:30 am, which I thought was great as I’m not a morning person.  But at the end of the night, they checked everyone out in the same order so I was one of the last to leave at 10:00 pm.  Hey, at least I earned some overtime on my first job.

So Much to Learn

I learned so much that first day.  It took a lot of asking questions of the more experienced extras, listening to them discussing the job, and observing all that was going on.  I filled out my first voucher.  The voucher is a form where you put your information such as name, social security number, date, etc.  At the end of the night, you return that voucher, they write your ending time, and give you back one of the carbon copies.  That is how you get paid.  No voucher, no pay.  Glad I didn’t lose it that first day!

I had signed up with one casting company, 4 Star Casting, already but through listening I found out about other ones to follow.  Basically, you follow them on Facebook and submit for a job when you see something that is appropriate for you.  Now, five months later, all of my jobs except three have been with 4 Star.  Click here to find out more about them.  You will need to create a POP profile and keep it up to date if you want to find jobs.  I still have so much more to learn.  Hopefully, I’ll keep getting more and more tips and tricks of the trade as I go along and can post them here.

Contact Me

Thanks for reading about my life as a background actor.  I have a lot more to tell and will be updating frequently.  If you are interested in doing this or more importantly, if you already do and have advice, please contact me here.  I have so much more to learn.