Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ask a Stage Mom

Today's blog is courtesy of Carlease Burke, a comedian/actress friend of mine whose been in show business for a long time and knows the in & out's of Hollywood. I'm planning on moving to L.A. soon and asked for her from advice, here's what she said:


Hey Carlease,
I'm planning on moving down to L.A. soon and I could use some help looking for commercial or tv/film extra work.
My goal is to live in L.A without working in a coffee house or being a substitute teacher.

Thanks Carlease, any leads would help!

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for your question. I hope you don’t mind if I use it for my ezine this month.

Here’s my answer:

What’s wrong with working in a coffee house? I have had a successful comedy show at Hot Java for four years now. I know what you mean though, you probably don’t want to be a barista right? And you certainly don’t want to be a substitute teacher. Been there, done that, hated it!! But if that should become a part of your journey, then go with it. Sometimes in the beginning of our show business careers, especially if we’ve relocated, we do what we have to do to pay the bills. At the same time, I do believe we can have whatever life we choose for ourselves.

So, I know what you don’t want to do, but what is your ultimate goal? You need to be clear on that. As far as extra work is concerned I would start with a company called Central Casting. There are many others that I am not familiar with, but believe me, when you start working as an extra you will be surrounded by plenty of other background players who will gladly show you the ropes. One day on the set keeping your eyes and ears open, you will go home with a wealth of information on where to find more work. Some actors earn a living and receive full health benefits from doing extra work. It’s also a great place to learn the behind the camera world of this industry. You may even be attracted to one of those jobs.

Again, I don’t know what your goals are, but if you want your own show or wish to act in film and TV, then I would show up, blend in and pay attention. Do not bother the stars and don’t try to be one. If you don’t want to be recognized as a professional extra, just mingle with the crowd, get your paycheck and go home. Unless of course the director asks you to do a special bit or even give you lines! It can happen. Many background players get their SAG cards from doing this work. Once you get that it would be time to look for an agent so you can start auditioning for speaking roles if that’s what you want. Who knows you might get a starring role working in a coffee house or being a substitute teacher!

Carlease Burke


  1. What's wrong with being a substitute teacher? I've made good living at it while pursuing the entertainment industry. I've also garnered some invaluable material and have written a critically acclaimed, award winning show called, "Did You Do Your Homework?" from subbing. Therefore, don't knock it. It sure beats working minimum wage extra jobs!

    1. Hi Aaron,
      There is nothing wrong with being a substitute teacher. It just didn't work for me. I was having a flashback when I told Charlie don't do it!! I also told him if where part of HIS journey then go with it. For you Aaron, it was a win/win situation: paying the bills and combining it with your craft to create an amazing solo show "Did You Do Your Homework?" I thoroughly enjoyed it and am most impressed with you winning the Romanian solo show contest. "Do your homework!" is my new mantra and I will be using it as a teaching tool in my next issue of Carlease's Bits n Pieces.