Having received two job offers within a week and determined to begin working in the following two weeks, I sought activities that would be challenging to pursue with a full-time occupation. Participating in a film as an extra had been lingering on my bucket list so that I could preserve my minute experience in and passion for acting. I had emailed The Vampire Diaries, filming in Decatur, Georgia, three times to no avail. I then applied for an opening on The Originals, meeting in Conyers, Georgia, and to my surprise, in less than an hour, I was asked to join the following day. The Originals recently became my favorite television show of all time, and I could not contain my bundle of excitement despite how insignificant my role would be on the show.
When I arrived at the trailer, I was required to fill out various forms even longer and more complex than the ones for full-time jobs. I soon discovered that, unlike me, most extras had abundant experience, and, longing for me to truly enjoy this unique opportunity, they consistently asked me how I felt and even sounded proud of me for fulfilling every task without a problem. Not only did I plan to act and hopefully be seen in the background, I also craved knowledge of the film industry and how productions are created. Until this encounter, I had presumed the diverse locations I witnessed on television were borrowed as opposed to being built and destroyed on set. Furthermore, I had imagined that if actors nailed a scene, they simply moved on, as they have countless sections to cover within a given time frame. Nothing caught me off guard more than seeing actors recite every dialogue repeatedly from various angles. Because I took numerous theatre courses and theatre actors tend to downgrade movie stars, as all could be edited on video, I had never given camera acting its due credit. After spending eight fatiguing yet refreshing hours on set, I admitted, “Maybe acting on camera isn’t as simple as I thought after all.”
Though I predicted actors did not want to be bothered by extras, when I saw two of them near me separately, I decided to send compliments and ask for pictures. I was pleasantly surprised by the selflessness of Yusuf Gatewood, who plays Vincent and Finn on the show. He even suggested taking more than one photograph so that I could select the best one to post and share with him on Instagram, in addition to acknowledging how long the day had been for me, when he must have been exponentially more exhausted. He also commented on the picture, “My pleasure[,] brother. Nice to meet and work with you guys today. Best.” I was unaccustomed to this level of humility among celebrities, but through Gatewood, I spotted a glimpse of hope in the entertainment industry.
Although the crew warned the extras not to spoil the upcoming season, frankly, I could not even if I wanted to, as I solely focused on what I had to do to avoid being a burden on set. With this participation, I have checked one item off my bucket list.