By Lizzy Buczak

One of the great things about living in the city of Chicago is that it’s slowly turning into a second Hollywood.

We currently have 3 Chicago shows filming here (Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med + Chicago Justice coming soon), Empire, and two additional Chicago-based shows in production. And not to mention Transformers is returning soon and the horror show The Exorcist will also begin filming.

What does that mean for us though? Lots and lots of extra and stand in work!

Trust me, it is fun stuff! You get to meet some of your favorite actors, see your favorite TV shows come to life and be on a professional set. And did you know many A-list actors got their start by being extras?

But although fun, being an extra isn’t easy.

Here’s a little handy guide if you’re thinking about adding the job to your resume:

  1. Nothing is ever personal – Recently, my boyfriend and I were called to be extras on Chicago Med. Eventually, they really only ended up using me and while he was a little upset, I told him something someone told me my first time doing this “nothing is personal.” The directors see things in a different light so if they don’t use you, chances are you didn’t fit the scene, the scene changed or their visions did.
  2. Be patient – Being an extra means there is A LOT of down time and waiting around.. I’m not going to lie, half the time you will be sitting and doing absolutely nothing. You’re still getting paid, so make the most of it – bring a book or do some work and enjoy the downtime.
  3. Dig into the catering – One of the big perks is the catering – they serve up some quality stuff. It is free so don’t be shy, dig in! Plus, you never know how long you’re going to be there or when the next time you’ll be able to eat, so keep that in mind. Just make sure to be respectful and follow orders.
  4. Be respectful of the cast – I know, these are your favorite actors and you want to take selfies with them all but don’t! First off, they are at work and in the zone, getting into character.  They want to feel safe and normal on set so don’t be the crazed fan. It is however perfectly acceptable to talk to them if they initiate the convo. And many of them do – Voight and Halstead were some of the nicest guys on set when I was an extra on Chicago PD.
  5. Be willing to work/flexible – Many times, you’ll get directions in the very last minute and these directions might change up depending on the scene. Go with the flow, be flexible, understanding and listen to whoever is telling you what to do. That way, you’ll make a good name for yourself and they’ll call you back for more scene. Or who knows, maybe even bump you up to a speaking role.
  6. Enjoy the wardrobe fitting – Last time my “extra role” required a wardrobe fitting and I was in there for 2 hours, paid of course. But instead of being annoyed that I had to try on so many clothes, I was excited to have my own personal stylist for the moment… and boy did she know a thing or two.
  7. Always come prepared–  They will always ask you to bring clothes and an experienced extra once told me to bring a variety of things. I usually go with a luaggage because chances are, you don’t know exactly what will catch their eye. And you don’t want to be dismissed from a scene because you didn’t bring the right clothes. Also come with hair and makeup done because do not think they will do that for you – you are not the star.
  8. So don’t think you are a star – Stay humble. Be happy with the opportunity but don’t let it go to your head. Everyone on set automatically sees right through you and you become unlikable!!


So with all those tips, go start your acting career! You can find a bunch of different casting calls on Facebook.

Chicago Fire Extras

Chicago Med Extras

Chicago PD Extras

Other Extra Work



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