React Magazine -
Need an actor? Danny Stoltz, 19, has 3,000 of them on the other end of his cell phone.
By Susan Hauser
It’s a slow day at Extras Only, one of the most important show business offices in Portland, OR. But you wouldn’t guess it from watching the guy at the desk work his cell phone. Nor would you guess from his jeans and baseball cap that Danny Stoltz runs this company. But he’s been the boss since he founded it three years ago - at 16.
Danny is the man to call when advertising; TV or film producers are shooting in Portland and need people to appear in the background of a scene. He has 3,000 photos in his files of people he can call for on-screen work. He has hired extras for hundreds of commercials, two TV series and seven feature films. For last summer’s Foxfire, a film about a girls’ street gang, Danny needed 3,000 teens. He ended up walking the streets to bring them in.
What does he look for? An “all-American look,” says Danny, and most important attitude. And once people are hired, they’d better produce. “If they don’t show up, we pull ‘em.” Danny says. “We only represent the best.”
Danny kept his age a secret for his first year or two in business. “People think teenagers don’t have these capabilities,” he says. “So first I had to convince people I could do an awesome job. Now my age isn’t an issue, but I have to work triple hard to keep my credibility up.”
Danny’s first job came at age 12, as an extra in a TV movie. On his own, he learned all he could about film casting, and at 16 he landed a job as assistant casting director for Mr. Holland’s Opus. After that, he decided to go into business instead of finishing high school. “My parents flipped,” he remembers. But they’re happy that Danny plans to continue his education at night school.
When he started out, friends helped out. A local talent agent let him sit at a table in her home and make phone calls. “That’s how I started - with a phone, a table and the knowledge that I had built up.”
Danny won’t say how much money he makes, but he did reveal that he hired a financial consultant after going on a huge spending spree. Now he allows himself a salary and invests most of what he earns.
Danny likes work so much he “can’t wait to get up in the morning.” The only drawback? He doesn’t have time for a social life, and when he meets a girl he wonders, “Does she really like me, or does she just want to be a movie star?”