Co-stars are the smaller speaking roles in a TV show that support one or more scenes.
Sometimes co-stars can be in multiple scenes with anywhere from zero to 10+ lines. Co-stars are determined by:
1. The size of the role
2. The importance of the role to the story
3. Amount of dialogue
4. Casting budget
Typical co-star roles include characters like a nurse, a cop, a receptionist, etc. Usually, the purpose of a co-star role is to help the principal actors along their journey.
Sometimes actors use the term “under-5” or “U/5” — this term is not used as frequently anymore. It was a term used more often pre-merger by AFTRA to describe a role that had under 5 lines and 50 words. This term is sometimes still used in soaps but anything under 5 lines for primetime is just referred to as a co-star.
Another fun fact:
Any non-speaking role is considered an extra (or background performer). However, there are many instances where casting will be asked to find an actor for a non-speaking role; either due to the emotional acting requirement or large interaction with the hero cast.
In this case, even without lines, the actor will still be paid and billed as a co-star.
When it comes to auditioning, the CD will either write a few lines for you or have you act out the action in the scene.
This is a reminder to always thoroughly read the breakdown + notes from casting. Many times you will prepare lines for an audition, only to be disappointed when you receive the script and don’t see any actual lines. We always try to be diligent in letting both actor and agent know this ahead of time, but if you didn’t read the notes, well, 🤷♀️
The best part about co-star roles?
𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕪 𝕒𝕣𝕖 𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕣𝕪-𝕝𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕝 𝕛𝕠𝕓 𝕡𝕠𝕤𝕚𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕒𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕤.
Contrary to popular belief:
You. Don’t. Need. Credits. To. Book A. Co-Star. Role.
Someone just read that and dropped their coffee.
But it’s oh so true.
We are constantly looking to give someone their first job. It’s one of our biggest joys!
What was your first co-star booking?
1 thought on “Terminology Tuesday – Co-star”
My first co-star role is airing now with The First Lady series on Showtime. I play the Roosevelt’s Nanny. It was very cool to see my name in the credits as a co-star. Now, I need an agent. :). Or do I?