Search form

Below the Stars: How the Labor of Working Actors and Extras Shapes Media Production (Hardcover)

Below the Stars: How the Labor of Working Actors and Extras Shapes Media Production By Kate Fortmueller Cover Image
May be on our shelves or available in 5-7 business days
2 on hand, as of Jul 6 11:06am


Despite their considerable presence in Hollywood, extras and working actors have received scant attention within film and media studies as significant contributors to the history of the industry. Looking not to the stars but to these supporting players in film, television, and, recently, streaming programming, Below the Stars highlights such actors as precarious laborers whose work as freelancers has critically shaped the entertainment industry throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. By addressing ordinary actors as a labor force, Kate Fortmueller proposes a media industry history that positions underrepresented and quotidian experiences as the structural elements of the culture and business of Hollywood.

Resisting a top-down assessment, Fortmueller explores the wrangling of labor unions and guilds that advocated for collective action for everyday actors and helped shape professional norms. She pulls from archival research, in-person interviews, and firsthand observation to examine a history that cuts across industry boundaries and situates actors as a labor group at the center of industrial and technological upheavals, with lasting implications for race, gender, and labor relations in Hollywood.

About the Author

Kate Fortmueller is an assistant professor of entertainment and media studies at the University of Georgia.

Praise For…

Given the recent stories surrounding Hollywood and its unions, [Fortmueller's] look at the place occupied by working actors and extras in the film industry could not be more timely.
— The Film Stage

[A] thorough history of background actors and extras in the entertainment industry workforce, from the silent era to today...Fortmueller offers intriguing details and anecdotes uncovered in archival materials, and at times the book reads like an entertaining work of meta-cinema, full of scandal and intrigue.
— Library Journal

[Below the Stars] is a valuable read that untangles, with exceptional clarity, the convoluted histories of labour unions in various media landscapes and stages of technological developments, presenting a comprehensive picture of industrial forces from the unique vantage point of below-the-star actors.
— Alphaville
Product Details
ISBN: 9781477323076
ISBN-10: 1477323074
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication Date: July 13th, 2021
Pages: 216
Language: English