Dani Alicia is an actress, writer, and entrepreneur. She writes about topics that interest her.
Navigating and finding legitimate casting agencies in New York City can be daunting, and when you find them, figuring out how to submit to them can be quite a task too. Do you walk in? Do you email them? Maybe a phone call will do? Each agency has different methods of accepting new talent, and ignoring their policies is the easiest way to get barred from work. There are also many scam artists out there looking to take advantage of new, budding actors.
This short list contains five legitimate agencies who book background actors for work. All of these agencies have free registration, and each of them may have different registration methods. Use this list to jump start your career as a background actor in New York City.
1. Central Casting
Central Casting, formed in 1925, is the leading background-actor casting agency in New York City, and possibly the entire United States. If you want background work, get in good with this agency. They have four offices across the country: New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New Orleans. They also have their own, in-house payroll which, trust me, is a great thing. Here are some of the shows and movies they cast for:
- Master of None
- The Big Bang Theory
- American Horror Show
- The Ranch
- This is Us
- Girls' Trip
- Deepwater Horizon
- Many, many, MANY more....
In order to start working with Central Casting, you must register with them in person. If you are not registered with them, you cannot book work with them. If you try to, they will block your email address, so don't shoot yourself in the foot. Take the time to go into your nearest office and register. They work with children as well.
They have certain days on which new talent can register. You can find the days and times on their website at www.centralcasting.com. Once you are registered with them, they send out casting notices via Facebook, a pre-recorded hotline that you can call in to, SMS messages, and Casting Networks. Once again, I can't stress enough that you need to register in person with them first before submitting yourself for work.
2. Grant Wilfley Casting
This is a really good background actor casting agency that has been in the NYC area for over 20 years. I really like this agency because the casting directors are always so pleasant. Although it is a smaller agency than Central Casting, this agency is a very big deal in NYC. Some of the projects, past and present, that they cast for are:
- Rachel Getting Married
- The Departed
- The Sopranos
- Catch Me if You Can
- Many, many MANY more....
Although it isn't necessary to register with them, you are able to do so on their website at www.gwcinyc.com. They post casting notices on their website, their Facebook page, their Twitter feed, Casting Networks, Breakdown Services, and Backstage.
3. Waldron Casting
Waldron Casting is a boutique casting agency in NYC. Although the agency is small compared to some others and hasn't been around as long (founded in 2016), they cast for significant projects. In fact, the founder, David Waldron, worked for some of the bigger casting companies before branching off on his own, so he was able to bring his expertise to his agency. He also was a co-producer of his own series, The Alphabet Boys. Some of the past and current projects that Waldron Casting books talent for are:
- The Blacklist
- And more....
You must register with Waldron casting on their website at www.waldroncasting.com and have all of your sizes readily available to submit. They do not accept unsolicited calls, emails, and/or texts. Once you are registered with Waldron Casting, in general, they will contact you for work. Sometimes they post casting notices on their Facebook page as well as Casting Networks.
4. Comer Casting
Comer Casting is another good agency that cast background actors for work. Although their length of operation is not readily available, they have been registered with the Better Business Bureau since October of 2015. This company casts for many major shows for major networks. Some of their past and present projects include:
- Madam Secretary
- The Smurfs in 3D
- The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- The Following
- The Good Wife
- The Michael J. Fox Show
- You Don't Know Jack
- Step Up 3D
- And more...
You must register with Comer Casting in person to be considered for work. They do not take walk ins--registration is by appointment only. In order to get an appointment, you must email certain information to them and they will contact you to schedule the appointment. The email, as well as required information can be found on their website at www.comercasting.com.
After your appointment, it takes them about 2-3 weeks to process your registration. They do not have a "database" for you to submit for work—they contact you when they have work available.
5. Sylvia Fay/Lee Genick & Associates Casting
The Sylvia Fay/Lee Genick & Associates Casting agency has been around since 1972. Located on the upper westside of Manhattan, this agency has cast talent for many, very popular projects. Some of their past and current projects include:
- A Bronx Tale
- College Roadtrip
- Luke Cage
- Jessica Jones
- Law and Order
- All That Jazz
- Coming to America
- The Last Dragon
- Carlito's Way
- Big Daddy
- Donnie Brasco
- Many, many, MANY more...
They do not take unsolicited emails or mail. You must register on their website at www.sylviafaycasting.com in order to be considered for work. They use AgencyPro, a talent database in order to cast actors for work. It is free to create a profile on this database for Sylvia Fay/Lee Genick & Associates Casting, but you also have the option of a paid membership that allows you access to other work.
I have booked work with every agency on this list except Sylvia Fay/Lee Genick and Associates casting agency. Every one of the agencies that I have worked with where professional and courteous (and I have no doubt that the Sylvia Fay agency is the same). I'm sure there are more agencies out their that cast for background actors, but this list will get point you in the right direction to get started.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How does Central Casting get away with terminating background actors without an explanation?
Answer: CC usually has a good reason for terminating background actors although they may not tell you why. Usually, it's for unprofessional conduct on set or no call, no show. However, there is no law in NY or CA that says they are required to give you an explanation on why they've stopped working with you.
© 2017 Dani Alicia
B J on December 16, 2019:
Central Casting is NOT the best/most professional of this group. I find them to be VERY UNPROFESSIONAL and very controlling. I refuse to work with them. There is plenty BG work in NY and I don’t need to work with them in order to stay busy.
Pamela C on September 07, 2018:
Thank You so much!! This is such a helpful post.
Sergii Z on January 15, 2018:
I just decided to try background actor job. Had no idea how it works and where to start. Thanks for clarifying it.
Edith L Capizola on December 01, 2017:
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Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 11, 2017:
Already following! So I'll watch for more from you. Have a great day!
Dani Alicia (author) from Florence, SC on October 10, 2017:
Thank you for reading and commenting! And yes, I can definitely research other cities and do an article. Follow me to keep up with my new articles. Thanks!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 10, 2017:
I didn't know there was such a thing! Way cool. I'm guessing there are other agencies in other cities. Maybe another post on other cities? Thanks for sharing!