How to Get Acting Work on Soap Operas

By Contributor
Working as a Doctor on Days of Our Lives

Have you ever wanted to work as an actor on a soap opera? Do you feel you have the looks to be the next big soap star? If so, there are a few things you can do to get your soap career kick started. Below is a list of what to do to get work on soap operas.

Headshots: First off, you'll need an 8x10 headshot of yourself with your resume stapled to the back. Don't just have a friend take a digital image of you - it is best to hire a professional headshot photographer. You shouldn't have to spend a ton of money on your photos, you can get a good headshot photographer for less than $300.

Resume: If you don't have a resume, you can list you stats and information on your resume sheet. Include height, weight, eye color, your phone number and email address. Include any acting classes, theatre training or past film and television experience. Don't worry, you can get work on most soaps with very little on your resume.

Mail Your Headshots: There are six main soap operas in the United States; in Los Angeles there is Days of Our Lives, The Bold and Beautiful, General Hospital and The Young and Restless. In New York there is Guiding Light and One Life to Live. Mail each soap your headshot with a post it note that says "please consider me for background or under five work". If you are in close proximity to Los Angeles or New York, you have a much better chance of getting work. When you address the envelope, be sure and put "Background and Under 5 Casting" under the address.

Wait for the Call: Some soaps may see your headshot and call you in right away for background work and others it may take five or even ten mailings. Be persistent, but don't be bothersome - never mail your headshot more than once a month. If you do get a call from casting, be sure and return the phone call immediatley. Often times if you don't call back right away, after a few hours casting will simply replace you with someone else. Background work basically means you will be an extra in the scenes and this typically pays $135 for the day.

Under 5's: Once you have worked background a few times, many soap opera casting directors are willing to give you an "Under 5", which basically means a role with less than five lines. These roles pay roughly $350 for the day and you will be working under an AFTRA contract. AFTRA is the union that governs all soaps and unlike SAG, it is an open union that anyone can join. Once you have had your first Under 5 on any soap, one year after your work date you will be eligible to join SAG. This is a backdoor into SAG many people don't know about.

Be Gracious and Thankful: If you do get cast on a soap be sure and be early for your call time. The last thing these soap casting directors want is someone who shows up late or has a diva attitude. Keep quiet on set and pantomime your words with other background actors. Be sure and mail a thank you note to the casting director after you have worked, this will go a long way and let them know that you appreciate the work.