Back in Chicago after our first weekend out of state. We slayed 'em, and had full houses to boot.
Theoretically, I'm spending a day tomorrow as an extra on the set of a beer commercial; I've already turned down a voiceover audition because it conflicts, so I hope it happens. I remember auditioning for a principal role in this spot, and I'm actually glad to be picking up extra work on it for a couple of reasons. First, it's one of those "see how popular we are?" commercials that features a couple dozen slice-of-life glimpses of Americans at play, and often they cast the bulk of those spots using extras and then just upgrade them on the set. Even if that's not the case though, I personally think no Chicago actor should ever be too proud to accept extra work, especially with the minimums for health insurance and pension credits getting higher every year. It would be different if there were a true celebrity machine here (i.e., where you actually have to worry about taking work that represents a step backward for fear that it will hurt your "quote"), but there isn't, so we need to be true citizens of the City That Works.
Story asked about my representation in a comment on my previous post. For what it's worth, I'm represented exclusively by two agencies — one for on-camera work and one for voiceover. That may seem a little odd to actors in L.A. or N.Y., where agencies represent actors by contract (e.g., Commercial, Theatrical, etc.) rather than the type of work done under each contract (e.g., voiceover, on-camera, etc.), but it's par for the course in Chicago. More could be said here about SAG's inability to renew the expired Franchise Agency Agreemet, but I'll spare you.
For Chicago actors, I cannot recommend at this particular point in time that they go exclusive with any particular agency, except under certain limited circumstances. Unless an actor is extremely well established (and I wouldn't even necessarily put myself in that category), there is too much work to be had by being multi-listed to make exclusivity with any particular agency worthwhile. The reason, of course, is that each agency has — to varying degrees — a certain amount of work coming through their doors that does not go through casting directors. Much of it is print work, industrials, trade shows, low-budget films and other lower-profile work but, hey, it's WORK, and any type of work is hard to come by for most people these days.
So why am I exclusive? My particular situation pre-dates the Commercial Strike of 2000, and it works well enough for me that I don't wish to change my very specific arrangement, but I do recognize it as being outside the norm and, therefore, I don't recommend it to hardly anyone else.