“We’re having brunch in Moscow! F—! St. Petersburg!”Anonymous
5:25am: Phone erupts. I spring out of bed instantly, knowing that if I rest another minute, I’ll sleep for hours.
5:45am: I step out into the cold. I’m on my way to film a Netflix show in New York City.
This is a day in the life of a working actor.
6:15am: I report to “holding,” where background actors, also known as “extras,” wait before filming.
6:22am: Rapid COVID test. This is in addition to a PCR test I took 3 days prior. No one gets tested more than actors and film crews.
7:30am: Wardrobe, hair and makeup. Wardrobe lets my fashion sense pass without comment.
8:00am: Breakfast. The crew forgot about us and most of the background actors never got so much as a cup of coffee!
A few renegades and I raided the crew-only breakfast truck. Eggs, hashbrowns, and hot coffee soothe us in the cold morning.
8:30am: Go to set. This is the big moment!
We are pretending to eat brunch outside an upscale Manhattan bakery.
Although it’s mid-November and 45 degrees, the scene is supposed to be occurring in late summer. So we can’t wear jackets or hats, only shirtsleeves.
We quickly begin to freeze in the grey cold.
“This is like a Communist country! It’s freezing cold and they’re telling us what to do!”
So begins a salty older lady with a long acting resume:
“We’re having brunch in Moscow! F—! St. Petersburg!”
Everyone is cracking up, grateful for some distraction from the frigid climate. A young man joins in:
“I’ve frozen my nipples off. Nips gone.”
11:15am: At last, we get a hot coffee and a brief rest in the warmth of the holding area.
11:30am: Back to set, but inside this time! One of the other extras is searching for a word. I chime in:
1:30pm: Lunch time! We wolf down delicious shrimp, salad and chocolate cake.
2:50pm: Outfit change.
3:00pm: More filming inside the bakery. One of the principal actresses bumps into another, dropping her books and meeting someone new.
How does this fit into the story? This show was supposed to be about a massive robbery.
I guess we’ll have to wait until it airs!
4:30pm: Final outfit change. I go through numerous shirts, belts, and undershirts until wardrobe finally signs off.
4:50pm: Back to holding.
6:57pm: Finally wrapped for the day! I wasn’t on set for a second in that last outfit.
The production just paid dozens of people overtime to do nothing for 2.5 hours. The disorganization of film sets always amazes me.
7:34pm: Finally home! I strip down and head into a hot shower.
I hope we made a show people will like!
I hope you enjoyed this little window into what actors really do.
Most of the time, it’s not glamorous. It’s early mornings, cold sets, and long days.
If you have questions or comments on acting, please leave them at the bottom!
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Photo: Photo by Roger Jones via Flickr Creative Commons
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