May 28, 2023

Paulina Pirveysian | Banner Rachel Boulware (right), sophomore communication studies major, talks to Amanda Bajema (left), junior healthcare administration major, about her experiences working as an extra. They watched an episode of “The Middle” in which Boulware makes an appearance.

Not everyone notices the background characters appearing on television shows or in movies, but for Rachel Boulware, sophomore communication studies major, this has become a part-time job to which she said she looks forward.

Boulware works with Central Casting, the largest extra company in Los Angeles, and has appeared as an extra in a total of 19 shows. Over the last two years she has appeared in hit series such as “The Middle,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Parks and Recreation” and “The

She said the inspiration for wanting to be in front of the camera came from watching her parents as extras.

“My parents were actually extras when they first started dating,” Boulware said. “I already knew when I turned 18 I wanted to do it just because I saw old videos of them doing it.”

Boulware is placed into the 18-year-old category, where she plays a high school student the majority of the time, but is beginning to branch out into more mature roles. She said she enjoys alternating the characters she plays. She recently appeared as an inmate on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.”

“There’s a lot of people in my category of age 18, so it is competitive in that aspect, but anyone can do it and I tell people that all the time,” Boulware said.

To get involved, students can register in-person and expect a few hours for the
process to complete. Registration includes a background check and creating a personal profile including facts about the individual. After a person is registered, available jobs are posted onto the company’s Facebook page and those interested call in to reserve a spot on a specific show.

Boulware works anywhere from two to 17 hours per day on set, while trying to balance school, but she said is a surreal surprise anytime she spots herself on television. Although it may be a difficult job at times, Boulware said she has made incredible memories through this experience.

“People always talk about how it’s a tough industry, but I have met some of the best people,” Boulware said. “We all are a little family, even though we are such a big company. We see each other and watch out for each other.”

When appearing on a show multiple times, Boulware said it is possible for celebrities on set to recognize extras. She has worked with a range of well-known actors including Emmy Rossum and Chris Pratt.

According to Boulware, there are opportunities to move up in the acting industry through these small roles. Acting is one option for Boulware as she considers what the future holds for her career.

“She has a really bubbly personality and it fits with this job because Hollywood isn’t an easy industry,” said Rebecca Lam, sophomore film studies major.

“You have to have personality to be different in the crowd and Rachel is
just that.”

Boulware encourages anyone interested in acting to sign up as an extra.

“Just go,” Boulware said. “Don’t hold back and think, ‘Maybe they won’t like me. Maybe I’m too short.’ You’ve got to get in there. If you can follow directions and have a smile on your face, it’s so much fun and you’ll meet some really cool people.”

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