Hi Bonnie!

Recently my friend and I encountered a little discrepancy regarding appropriate billing on a resume. She and I were both extras on a TV show a few months back, and she has listed herself as “Featured” on that show on her resume. From reading your Self-Management for Actors book, I know you’ve said “Featured” means you’re a principal with one or more lines, but easily cut.

However, my friend said a certain commercial coach told her that “Featured” means “Extra” nowadays. Has the meaning shifted?

And I was also under the impression that most CDs don’t care about or want to see your extra work on your resume (even if it’s masquerading as “Featured”). I would love your thoughts!

Melissa Chapman

Hi Melissa. Thanks for writing.

Definitely, the meaning has not shifted. “Featured” still very much means that an actor had a line as a principal performer. That actors are “promoting” their extra work to appear as if it were more important, more valuable to the project, more integral to the plot doesn’t make it RIGHT.

That coaches are saying, “Hey, since other actors are doing it, you might as well do it too,” further complicates the trend, because actors who might otherwise choose honesty on their resumes will decide to lie, because a coach told them it’s okay to do so.


I’m a big fan of transparency. Extras and principals aren’t even cast by the same casting office in the overwhelming majority of projects, so promoting your work on your resume not only makes it look like you’ve uttered lines when you have not, it also makes it look as though you have a letter of recommendation from a casting office you may never have entered. When someone checks IMDb and sees no record of your having done that “Featured” role on the project page (or they see you there, listed with the “unaccredited” notation), or asks to see your demo reel with footage from that project and there’s nothing to show, where are you then?

Sure, it’s great that you’ve been on a set and know what to do and what not to do, but that’s not the same as having been cast as a principal performer. Why would you want to list extra work on a resume that is designed to show that you’re low-risk, for principal roles?

Instead, show that you’re exactly where you are in your career. You’ve done exactly what you say you’ve done. If you’re choosing to put extra work on your resume, label it correctly. Be honest, because getting caught for lying feels like shit, I’d bet.

More importantly, lying comes from a place of lack. It comes from not feeling good enough. It comes from a place of insecurity about your credits, about what you’ve done, about the experiences that you’ve had that have led to where you are right now. When a coach suggests an actor lie, he’s asking you to join the insecure folks who are already lying. Your choice to stand in a place of confidence, filled with a sense of “I’m enough” will get you farther faster than a lie ever will.

But let others choose what road they want to walk. You get to choose yours. 🙂 Isn’t life cool, that way?

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001433.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. Adam May 11, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Hey Bon, I wanted to look up the article you did about proper billing, it’s a good reference. I have worked twice now on a wonderful soap (great to be invited back) where I have had the same part, and it’s been under 5 lines (the first was 4 the second was 3) and I’m looking to see if this can correctly be billed as co-star or even recurring co-star (if there is such a thing).

    Any insight is helpful, thanks and best, I appreciate all you give us.

    Best (and a hug),
    Adam Christopher

    1. Bonnie Gillespie May 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

      You’re awesome, Adam. Because it’s a soap, I’d go with “recurring U5” because U5 (Under 5) is the typical billing for one of those roles, but the fact that it has happened multiple times (yes, twice is multiple 😉 HEE!) means you can call it recurring. In fact, some folks would just use recurring (without qualifying it as an U5), but I like the full disclosure.

      Congrats on rockin’ it out and keep me posted on how it all goes for you. Thanks also for the hug!!! Love those! 🙂


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