I am very, very fortunate. My husband has a great job, and I am able to pursue acting opportunities full-time because of that.
The catch is, no one pays me to pursue acting jobs. And with our trip to Africa a little over 5 months away, we have to make a plan for how we're going to pay for it. I was fortunate to be paid for my work in Australia, but we decided to contribute that money to Chris and Emily White's upcoming film. It feels good to do good things. To help others.
But the time has come for me to help our family, so I am turning to...background work. (She sighs heavily.) I have mixed emotions about background work. Here are the pros and cons:
* It knocks you down a peg to go from starring in a one-woman show in another country to being "pedestrian with baby carriage."
* It's a drag to ride the subway at 5:30am.
* People who do a lot of background work are often crazy people. The kind who make you want to move all of your things to a different table.
* There are never enough power outlets to charge cell phones in the holding area.
* It's a decent alternative to sitting in the apartment all day, as there are no famous people in our apartment.
* You meet interesting people- and then use them for material in improv class.
* It gives me time to catch up on my reading or learning lines while we stand around and wait forever, either sweating or freezing.
* A week or two later, a paycheck comes in the mail. Actual US currency that can be exchanged for goods and services.
I've done a few days of BG work in the last year. I've kept that under my hat. I've been a fashion show attendee on "Blue Bloods," a pedestrian who bumps into Jim Carrey in "Mr. Popper's Penguins," a pedestrian with a baby carriage in HBO's "Girls," and (the most interesting day so far) a zookeeper congratulating "a very funny British actor you may have seen wrestling naked in another film" on successfully delivering a baby goat in the upcoming very secret movie that asked me to sign a confidentiality agreement. It's not every day you get to fawn over a man breastfeeding a goat.
No, it's not glamorous. It's not even acting, if you ask me. I heard a PA call BG actors "props who eat." And while that's a bit harsh, I have to agree. (Another pro- you get pretty decent meals on set.)
But if being an eating prop over the shoulders of "a very famous British actor who has wrestled naked in another film" means Dean and I are one rickety bus ride away from our trip to Rwanda, then sign me up.
Just tell me where the outlets are. My phone is about to die.