Brain Spain has been seen on television shows such as “Boardwalk Empire,” “Blue Bloods” and “Pan Am.”
But you may have to look a little closer to find him.
“I do what is called background acting, or what we jokingly call ‘a prop that eats,’” said Brain Spain, an Elkin local. “We are important because we are need to be there, but not the stars of the show. That’s what I do full time now, along with working to be a stand-up comic.”
Spain moved to New York four years ago after writing a book in order to meet people and make contacts.
“I wrote my book in 2003 and it was kind of like a blog before blogs came out,” he said. “It was random things I’d done in my life that are too long to use in my stand-up comedy.”
The book is called “So I Decided to Write a Book” using the joke that Spain is illiterate and he wrote a book in order to learn how to read. The book has typos and grammatical errors.
“I would stand on the streets in New York with a sign that would say, ‘Please buy my book so I can get my ‘learn to read classes,’” He said. “My marketing worked out well.”
Going from Elkin to New York wasn’t as big of a culture shock as it was when Spain moved from Elkin to Greenville, N.C., where he studied at East Carolina University.
“It was weird going from a town where I knew everyone to not knowing anyone in a bigger city,” he said. “So going to New York, I was kind of prepared to not know anyone.”
As a background actor, Spain can be seen as a lawyer on “Good Wife.” He has also been a guy in a night club, played ping pong behind Henry Winkler on “Royal Pains” and was a crying bank teller during a holdup on “Blue Bloods,” which was Spain’s favorite acting role.
“Being a crying bank teller was my favorite because I showed myself that I could cry on command,” he said.
Most background actors have to have what is known as a “survival job,” a second, more secure job to pay the bills. But Spain is a rarity; he is able to work as a background actor full time.
“Until last April, I had a survival job, but I’m getting enough work now that I don’t need it anymore,” he said. “I’m very lucky, because I say I’m a generic white guy so they can put me anywhere.”
Though background work is Spain’s main job right now, his ultimate goal is to write and do stand up comedy.
“I want to be like some of the actors in ‘The Office’ who do a lot of writing and might have a line in every other episode,” he said. “I’d also love to do a sold out show in New York.”
Spain is also thankful for his parents, who unlike some actor’s parents, have always been very supportive.
“My mom and dad have never said anything bad about my career path,” he said. “Especially after the first time they saw me on TV, they have been very supportive. Now I call my dad and get his opinions and ideas on my work.”
Reach Jessica Pickens at 835-1513 or email@example.com.