There are 5 different opportunities available when seeking work with a soap opera1 the second longest American Soap Opera. Sheryl Baker Fisher, Casting Director with One Life to Live and Darlene Failla, Casting Director with Guiding Light, the longest running show in broadcast history.
First, there are Extra/ Background Roles
. When asked if this type of work is difficult to be cast for they all earnestly responded, "not at all!" "We are constantly searching for "new faces" for extra roles - we cast 85 for today and 72 for tomorrow", Ms. Baker Fisher stated. What about the belief that once you accept an "extra/ background role" you will never be considered for larger roles and are "pigeon holed" for extra/ background work with that show for life?? " A complete and utter myth. Start by doing background work and you will be considered for larger roles as they arise", stated all three casting directors in agreement.2
Another opportunity is an "Under-Five" Role
which simply means under five lines. For example the nurse that declares, "You are wanted in the emergency room, Doctor", etc. These roles are nice as they can add those much needed lines when building a resume.3
Then there is the Day Player Role
. This role is larger and is usually for a few scenes within a days shooting. Amelia Marshall who currently plays Liz on Passions snagged a day-player role in the beginning of her career that turned into a seven-year run on Guiding Light where she played Gilly. It is not unusual for smaller roles to turn into something bigger and possibly even a career in soaps. 4
A Recurring Day Player
appears in a role that returns continually from time to time, although they may not appear everyday. 5
Last, but far from least, there is the Holy Grail of Soap Opera acting - the Contract Role
. The actor in a contract role is a member of the cast and their character has a regular storyline in the show.