As an actor or someone who stumbled into acting (that is another story), I have done my dues as an extra in crowd scenes, along with many appearances as a background performer with specific directions. I have also done some bit parts without lines and even a few bit parts with spoken lines. One day, I realized that I wanted to act and not just be in front of the camera, so I no longer wanted to do extra work. I enjoyed stepping into a role and making it my own. I did not care if anyone actually recognized me.
I started to take acting more seriously and had to prioritize acting over just getting my face on camera just so I could brag to my friends. My agent saw this and so did some local casting directors. I started to get more auditions for minor roles that were pretty much SOC (Silent on Camera) roles portraying specific characters who did not have lines.
I started to get some bit parts (with or without lines), but that is when I really got back my acting bug. I took more lessons and auditioned for more roles. Once I started to get some more minor roles, I knew I would rather take one acting gig over one hundred background jobs. I liked having a role with a more specific challenge even if it meant less pay due to only spending one day on set.
This panned out for me and I got a few minor roles in some small to medium productions. I did a few acting roles and even a few lead roles in some student films (without pay) and a couple of low budget TV shows (again, at low rates), but I enjoyed working at my acting craft. HEY! How many other people do you know can say they played the mayor of Toronto in a Chinese soap opera?
I wanted to pursue an acting career, decided to tell my agent and my background agent, that I no longer wished to do background work. I was not saying it was beneath me or that it was out of my league, I just did not want to do that type of work anymore… This decision almost bit me, as I almost automatically turned down background work on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
When I got called to do some background work (after my choice to no longer do it) I almost turned it down, until I found out it was as a pizza delivery guy on Degrassi. I took the gig only because it was Degrassi. I grew up watching the original Degrassi series, so I was pumped to get a chance to be a background player on this new series. I was saddened by the fact that I ended up on the cutting room floor.
A year later, I once again got a chance to be a background player on Degrassi. I almost turned it down, figuring that I would not get seen and that I really did not want to be in a crowd shot again. But again, just for bragging rights, I took the job. This time, I did not expect any exposure, but I did it for the quick cash I would make.
Just the other day, I happened to find on the CTV.ca website, a special called ”Degrassi Takes Manhattan”. In clip 4 of this special, I recognized the last work I did on this show. Sure enough, I was able to spot myself in several shots.
Remember, I do not act for the money, fame or else wise, I do it for the love of acting. I did Degrassi for myself and bragging rights. I did it because I grew up with the original series. I wanted to be able to say I did something on Degrassi, even if it was background work. When the episode did come out, my scene did not make it. I was a little disappointed, but hey it was a paid gig and I at least got on the set of Degrassi.
A year later, I got another call to work on Degrassi, I agreed to take the background work, only because it was Degrassi. This time it was a casino scene and I was going to be a gambler. I was placed so that I was crossing and hanging out behind the main actors who were playing black jack. I figured now I would be seen on Degrassi and my dream would be fulfilled. I would no longer do background work and go back to seeking acting work.
As most actors will tell you, you cannot make a full time living as an actor in Canada. While I continued to audition and take workshops to improve my chances at getting roles. I kept a roof over my head by running my own business. Even though my work was primarily done at home or at my clients location, I knew I needed to have a prestigious business address to show potential clients that I was serious. I looked at several Toronto office space locations and quickly realized what I needed was a virtual office service, to give the appearance of having a real office.
As many of my readers know, I soon found that I needed more than just a Toronto mail service or even a mail and telephone answering service. I decided to take a serviced office at the same Toronto office business centre, without having to change my address or telephone number.