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; hence, I applied for an opening on The Originals meeting in Conyers, Georgia instead, and to my surprise, in less than an hour, I was asked to join the following day. The Originals recently became arguably my most desired and anticipated drama series of all time, and despite how insignificant or nontransparent my niche may be on the show, I could not help but instantly detonate my bundle of excitement.
When I arrived at the trailer, I was required to fill out various forms that appeared even longer and more complex than the ones for full-time jobs. I soon discovered that, unlike me, every other extra had often been through this unfamiliar realm. Fellow participants, longing for me to make the most of this exclusive first-hand opportunity, consistently questioned how I felt about my initial involvement as an extra, even sounding proud of me for coping with every task thrown 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 always 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 moved on without hesitation, as they have countless sections to cover within a given timeframe. Nothing caught me off guard more than seeing performers 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 a couple near me in natural circumstances separately, I decided to send compliments and ask for pictures. I was pleasantly surprised by the humility and selflessness of Yusuf Gatewood, who plays Vincent and Finn on the drama series. 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 celebrities with empathy and compassion, 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, quite frankly, I only vaguely speculated what was happening in the scenes I partook in. In other words, I would not be able to reveal what went down either way. I was caught up in solely what I had to do to avoid negatively impacting the session. Regardless of making it on television, I have checked one off my bucket list.