Seat Filler: The Hollywood Job You Never Knew Existed
How to Get the Gig
The Academy Awards is probably the hardest awards show to land a seat filler gig. According to an interview with a seat filler at The A.V. Club, you need to have a relative working for the Academy or work for PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that counts the votes. You also have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which means The A.V. Club's interviewee could only speak about the experience under the condition of anonymity.
However, you can apply to be a seat filler at some of the other big-name awards shows including the Golden Globe Awards, the SAG Awards, the Emmy Awards, the People's Choice Awards, and the MTV Movie Awards. Seatfillersandmore, Gotham Casting, and Audiences Unlimited are three websites where you can apply to be a seat filler. By starting as a seat filler for smaller events, you might get a chance to network and gain insider tips on how to score the biggest ones, including the Academy Awards.
Applying is not a guarantee you will be chosen. Most sites require you submit a resume, photo, and some even request your Facebook and Instagram account URLs.
On the plus side, many events are looking for all types of people to be seat fillers, including both men and women, as well as all different ages and races. You don't have to look like Brangelina to be selected, but you should be well-groomed and there is a dress code...
Dress code varies for each event. The Academy Awards definitely have people there to look at seat fillers beforehand and make sure they are up to dress code. According to a seat filler who spoke to MTV.com, the dress code is usually "upscale club/casual". White, logos, and bold patterns or prints are discouraged. Fun, bright solid colors are the best bet. Basically, you want to look good if you show up on camera, but you better not be looking so good that you pull attention away from the celebs.
Lots of Waiting and Strict Rules
When the big day arrives, seat filling is not as glamorous as it sounds. The long hours can involve more standing in line and less sitting next to Ryan Gosling. Prepare for waiting in a line for hours, possibly in a fancy dress and uncomfortable shoes, before being chosen to enter the theater.
Once you get inside, there are strict rules on how to behave. There's definitely no talking to the stars or people who have real invitations, so drop any ideas of taking a selfie with your famous seatmate. Don't do anything to draw attention to yourself. Basically, be as anonymous as possible.
Even if you can't interact with anyone, you still might be present for some exciting moments or get an insider's look at Hollywood magic. At CNN, Monica Enriquez, who has been a seat filler for many events, says she's sat next to Jake Gyllenhaal, Brad Pitt, and even had Julia Roberts smile at her. At the Emmy Awards, she was sitting behind Sofia Vergara when the Modern Family star's dress had a wardrobe malfunction. Enriquez got to be there to see Vergara's team sweep her out during a commercial break and have her return again with a perfectly sewn dress.
Being a seat filler is less a job and more a very prestigious volunteer gig. For most events, including the Academy Awards, you don't get paid, so the only compensation is bragging rights and a chance for your mom to see you on camera. Since you can be there all day, you do sometimes at least get fed a free meal.
Even though there are a lot of restrictions and no pay, all the seat fillers interviewed said they would do it again if offered the opportunity. And even if you can't talk to the celebrities, if you're savvy enough, maybe you can still use the opportunity to land a job. Talking to a member of the production crew could provide insight on how to work the next awards show as a production assistant or other paid position.