Anyone who has ever worked as a background performer (generally referred to as “extras“) on a film set or television show in Los Angeles has probably heard other extras talking about the stigma attached to people who do extra work on any kind of regular basis. The logic behind this stigma is based on the idea of directors associating extras as simply non-actors who fill the background of a given scene. There is a very common belief in Hollywood that if someone is recognized by a director as a person that was seen working as an extra, the director will only view that person as an extra, and will not take them seriously and hire them as a principal actor. But doing extra work can be of great benefit to aspiring actors.
The number of people who “dream” of being a professional actor are in the millions. There are no official statistics published regarding the number of people who actively pursue acting jobs over the course of a given year, however the number is likely in the upper hundreds of thousands worldwide. This is a staggering number considering that there are roughly 50,000 acting jobs in a year, mostly comprising of small one-day roles. This figure also includes actors who worked on cruise lines, theme parks, summer festivals, and other non film and television jobs.