With my brief participation on The Originals from a few weeks ago under my belt, I no longer had any desire to partake in more films as an extra. Seeking full-time employment relevant to my future career path utterly seized my thoughts, and working as an extra once again became the last objective on my mind. However, a temporary intern with the right to manage my own work schedule, I decided to skim through the Tammy Smith Casting–Atlanta Facebook page, where I discovered about the opening on The Originals. I told myself I would only give this another go if any show needs Korean, and coincidentally, one of the most recent posts read, “KOREAN[-]SPEAKING MALE” for the upcoming movie Vacation. The position’s exclusiveness to my talent and competitive pay instantly captured my attention. I began to think rationally, that once I committed to a stable occupation, I could no longer pursue such opportunities; therefore, without setting any expectations, I emailed Tammy my background and résumé, informing her I spoke both English and Korean as a native. She called me a few days following, asking me to audition for the role of an angry voice in Korean off camera, the purpose being to motivate actors to more realistically and enthusiastically respond to the scene. I have never been passionate about or obsessed with the celebrity realm, and when Tammy gave me the list of renowned actors with whom I would be working, specifically Ed Helms and Christina Applegate, the recruiter was shocked I did not recognize Ed’s name despite my theatre and acting experience. Hence, I studied the cast members’ acting histories prior to the audition. After a short interview and run-through, the crewmembers, immediately knowing they wanted my furious soldier-like voice, took me over to the scene with the actors and kept me until the end of the session.
Extras generally are not permitted to speak, but in this particular segment, my voice, though off camera, played a trigger-and-heap influence on the actors. Though the movie likely will release a separate professional’s voice, the actors’ reaction the audience will witness will have been affected by my screaming. Repeatedly shouting hurt my throat, but I was entertained and privileged to be working with such accomplished and down-to-earth celebrities firsthand. Boy actor Steele Stebbins adorably waved at me whenever the cameras stopped rolling, which made me feel welcome. I only prayed not to make mistakes and become a hindrance to the actors, but the entire set found me hilarious and asked numerous times about the meaning of the Korean lines, some of which I had to retranslate due to the original’s inaccuracy. One time, I laughed and mumbled at what the stars said, thinking they were casually conversing. I was embarrassed when the director had to let me know they were being filmed.
I was blown away by the cordiality and humility of everyone involved in the making of Vacation. Different groups continuously visited and encouraged me by saying, “You’re doing a great job” and “That was so funny.” Many also wanted to know where they could find “great Korean restaurants” in Atlanta. In spite of the little significance my presence bore, actors often asked me questions, such as what I had for breakfast, and found ways to incorporate me into their conversations so that I would not feel left out. Ed even joked my Korean accent “was a little off,” and as slow as I am, I initially asked myself, “Wait, does he speak Korean? How would he know?” Everyone around us laughed. I wore the listening device connected to the actors all along and could inadvertently listen to their chats. I can only describe them as pleasantly amusing. Both actors and the crew rarely passed me without offering a compliment. Even when I was waiting for a shuttle back to my car, Christina walked past me and said, “Hey, good job today.” I was caught off guard, as I did not expect to see her outside, and I only ended up desperately replying, “Thank you!” when I really meant, “You were great too!” When I am invited back for the remaining scenes, hopefully I will have a chance to share with the actors how grateful I felt for their embracing just another extra.