Sunday, January 8, 2012

Soap Me Up: The Under 5 Game

The last in a four-part series about background work on daytime soap operas. Read Part 1 or Part 2 or Part 3 here.

I enjoy doing soap background work, but my overall goal as an actor is always paid, speaking roles. In the daytime soap world, these small speaking parts are called Under 5s because they refer to roles where the character speaks five lines or less. Speak more than five lines and they have to pay you more.

Getting an Under 5 is the same process as getting a primetime co-star role – you have to audition. I’ve met many extras who think that working background regularly will eventually earn them an Under 5, but as far as I know, that doesn’t happen. You still have to be submitted by an agent/manager and go in for an audition.

I did one Under 5 role for The Young and the Restless many years ago, playing a reporter. The casting director at the time brought me in to read a few reporter scenes from past episodes. She booked me for one episode, which was super fun. Unlike the background, I got my own dressing room and had my hair and makeup done by their staff – the most glamtastic reporter I’ve ever played! The CD tried to book me for a second episode a few months later, but I was on Knight Rider at the time. Then she moved on – dang, that could have been recurring.

The first 20 seconds below is my Under 5 scene opposite Vail Bloom, who went to Princeton with my brother!

Any final questions about working background or Under 5s on a soap opera? Post them below!

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