I’ve always wanted to be on TV. Not as a lead actor or even a supporting one, mind (goodness knows I don’t have the looks or the acting chops for that!). But I’ve always wondered how it would be to sit on one of those live talk show seats in the audience, cheering on every guest in the show, and maybe - just maybe - towards the end, having Oprah point at me and announcing that I will get a car?
*cue glissando music here, until I shake myself awake*
Ever noticed how there are so many audience members, extras, and other seemingly unmemorable people that actually help get the story or show moving along smoothly? Even if they’re standing behind a thick glass, mouthing incoherent words like a school of feeding koi fish and holding up signs, you know that they’re an important part of the show.
But did you know you can actually get paid to be doing precisely that? Yup, we’re looking at anywhere between $50-$70 just for sitting through a live taping (roughly an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the production). So if you reside in an area where there are studios doing live taping regularly, I say, why not try to be a paid audience member? It’s bound to be fun, you will be able to see your favorite celebrities, and you’ll come home with some cash (and maybe some exciting prizes, to boot).
1) Stand in line (and wait)
Audience members for talk shows and game shows need to stand in line before they can get a chance to sit down right there in the studio. There’s a bit of a wait involved, and also the possibility you won’t make the cut-off. You will need to know where the studio waiting area is for the audience members, and you have to be there early so you can get a better chance to get a ticket for the taping.
Other people I’ve talked to who have been successful at becoming part of a live studio audience confessed to waking up at an ungodly hour (around 4 AM, again, depending on geographic location and traffic conditions), and just bringing books, breakfast, and even their laptops so they can work while waiting to be called on set. Some also suggested trying to “stand out” via fashion or hairstyle, so that scouts can spot them as potentially interesting audience members (and even onstage participants!).
2) Post a job on Mandy
Yup, you can actually look for a job as a paid audience member, the same way you would as an actor or musician. Mandy.com is an online platform for actors, film and television crew members, theater pros, musicians, models, voice-over actors, and yes, even extras, to connect with casting directors, or showbiz and HR managers and hire them. You can sign up with Mandy and create a profile as an audience member, or look for job postings on the site itself.
3) Sign up for free show tickets
This method only works for cities that have an active showbiz industry, with regular studio tapings and daily calls for audience members. If you live in New York City, for instance, you can check out which shows are currently taping, and if they pay their audience for participating (linked below). At once glance, you will right away get an idea of when the taping season begins, as well as ticket availability, and more importantly, how much you will get paid to attend (if the production allows it, that is).
4) Become a member of Standing Room Only
The Standing Room Only site is that of an Emmy-nominated company known for helping TV fans see their favorite shows in person, as well as providing casting services for reality and game shows. Isn’t it exciting that there are casting companies dedicated to the art of being a paid live audience member? When you register to become a member, you can then apply for audience participation, looking through a list of shows that specify the type of people they look for (looks, gender, etc.). Make sure to check out only those that indicate payment. Most of the shows pay by the hour, though there might be ones that go for flat fees.
5) Search for casting calls
There are casting calls practically every day of the year, in hundreds of production studios in many places. How do you know when there’s a casting notice? One good way is to register on a reliable online platform that informs you right away who is casting what. Auditions Free makes sure to email you with notifications for casting calls so you won’t be able to miss them. You can also use the search bar on the Audition Search page to look for paid audience gigs, and it will come up with a list of possible productions for you!
There are a host of other sites and apps where you can try your hand at becoming a paid audience member for your favorite live TV show. I really want to give this gig a spin, just so I can relive my childhood dream of being up close and personal with my favorite celebrity talk show hosts. Plus, it seems like a pretty good way to make a quick buck while having fun, so win-win!
Would you ever consider becoming a paid live audience member? If you’ve ever become one, please share with us your experience, plus tips on how to go about it!