I’ve always wanted to be in the movies, a dream since I was a little girl. I would use various trophies my dad won as my “awards” and I would always make up this long list of thank-you’s and even be dramatic to the point where I was crying while delivering my thank you speech. I tend to be a tad over dramatic to this day.
My big Oscar opportunity came in 2003 when I was picked to be an extra in the movie, “Shall We Dance”. I love Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere so when I heard this movie was being filmed in Winnipeg, I was all over it. I filmed for a week and it was extremely long hours some days. One day I was on set for 18 hours… but you know what, the pay was AWESOME! Above minimum wage, triple time and a half and tax free! Kraft services wasn’t what you would think – our snacks were Manitoba fare a.k.a. “social fare”: kielbasa, dill pickles, various deli meats, rye bread, and potato chips. The dinners and lunches was where it was at! While the stars had better meals, ours was pretty good – Italian night (either lasagna or spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread and caesar salad), Taco night, Roast Chicken and fresh veggies just to name a few.
It was also hot. We were filming during the hottest week in August and the large industrial air conditioner broke down on the hottest day; chilled bottled water was being trucked in hourly so we wouldn’t dehydrate or get heat stroke (I got minor heat stroke later that evening).
Since Jennifer Lopez broke out with the movie “Selena” (I’ve loved Selena since I was 13, she was so talented), I wanted to be in a movie with her. I really didn’t have a plan until this opportunity came to fruition. Sure, I might not have acted along side of her but I WAS IN A FREAKING MOVIE WITH JENNIFER LOPEZ! As I watch American Idol, I have to agree with everyone who comes across her…. you do get emotional, she’s a force to be reckoned with. When you’re in the same room with her, you can feel that star power and her presence is just something to be in awe of. She is beautiful in person as she on the movie screen. Richard Gere is also handsome… the pictures and movie screen’s do not do him justice, he’s that handsome in person! If you’re a fan of “Third Watch”, then you will know why I cried when Bobby Cannavale was standing next to me. Stanley Tucci is hilarious in person as he is in the movies; Lisa Ann Walters is so sweet and so gracious, she was always coming over to our table to chat with us. She is soooo funny.
This is something that I will never forget. I didn’t have to be a major actress to get in to a movie. I showed up to a casting call and was chosen to be an extra, something that I am forever grateful for. If you want to experience being in a movie, throw your name in to a hat and be an extra. Major cities have casting agencies. Anyone can submit an application and their photo. They put them on file and if anything comes along that they think you’re good for, they’ll give you a call. The hours might be long and you’ll have to film in unfavorable weather conditions, but trust me, you will have the time of your life! If I can dedicate an entire summer to just being an extra, I would do it. Seriously. The pay is good and the experience is something you’ll take with you for the rest of your life. My appearance on the big screen might have been “blink and you’ll miss it” (I can be seen more in the “deleted scenes” feature on the DVD), but I can say that I was actually on a movie screen, a movie that was seen by millions of people around the world!
Dear Academy… I’m still waiting for my nomination. I really think you should have a category for “Best Supporting Role as an Extra”. Seriously. I’m your girl.