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The Life of an Actress

We continue revisiting special experiences from the archives, knowing days like this may never happen again.

Now that I am a paid performer, allow me to bring you backstage a bit.

First off, nothing happens the way it is supposed to happen. I have been getting numerous emails about various parts for this Netflix movie being filmed in town. Twice I was asked for additional information, never to hear about the part again. Last week I got another one that looked interesting. All parts require a few things, a clean COVID test, a fitting and of course, availability. It looked like I would need to have Monday through Wednesday available, so I made arrangement to swap work days (I usually work Monday and Tuesday). I hear nothing by the end of the week, so I call off the swap (never call in a favor until you really need one).

Saturday morning I am in a pickleball tournament (great fun and I played out of my mind) and I hear my phone ring. I could not get to it quickly enough, so I find somewhere quiet and listen to the voicemail message. It of course, is inviting me to be in the movie, which I now don’t think I can do as I have to work. Well long story short, I am able to take my COVID test and do my fitting after my work hours, so I’m all in!

The movie is called “Wheat Germ” (later officially named “White Noise”). Since I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement, that is all I’ll say since this is public information and being advertised by Netflix itself.

Now understand, Kandi is the actress, but for purposes of the COVID test and payroll, it’s me. I had to watch extensive COVID protocol training on-line and pass a quiz (needed 80%, got a 92%). Monday rolls around and I go to my drive-thru COVID test. Time taken to be tested, 10 seconds. Wait to be tested while sitting in my car, one hour and forty minutes. I passed that as well.

The fitting is the next day and I will have zero time to be able to go home to change. Now fortunately, women are instructed not to wear makeup and we also have to wear a mask. So that saves me a lot of time and the mask will keep me from scaring small children. Monday evening I completely vet my outfit and carefully pack everything I need to change into on the fly. But where can I go and walk in as a man and leave as a woman?

I thought up a few options, but decided to ask the gentleman who runs the selfie studio you have seen me frequent. The studio is an old NY&Co. and still has the fitting rooms and he says he’s happy to let me change! I exited my change (and I look awful without makeup) and got to the site about a half hour early.

The COVID requirements had me in a mask that I could barely breathe in as I waited for about an hour in the 90 degree heat. But then……WOW! If you ever get the opportunity to get fitted for an costume in a movie, do it! I was measured, different options were brought in and it was such an experience! The year of the movie is 1985, so I will be wearing a midcalf blue wool skirt, and adorable patterned blouse with a cute bow and pearls, heels and a trench coat. My photo was taken (sans makeup, yikes) and then I met with the makeup consultant, who also took a bunch of photos. She was a doll and really could tell how much this all meant to me! Another two hours plus getting ready!

I get home late Tuesday evening and have so much to do. Get everything squared away for the next day. What I will be wearing to the shoot. What I will be wearing under my costume. Do my nails. Find out when and where I have to report the next day. Eat dinner. On and on and on…. I don’t find out until about 10:00 PM that I have to report at 8:18 AM. Get some sleep, girl!!

Please bear in mind, I am writing this from my sleep deprived memory, so much of this is estimated and some things consolidated.

Up at 4:15 am for complete preparation. We are instructed to only apply foundation and mascara, nothing else. Then as I drive to the set, this rainbow greeted me on a rainy morning. I make my 8:18 call time, get COVID tested and sign in. We are bused to the set and go right into costume. There a few of the small details are completed, my purse, jewelry, etc. and I am back to holding.

In holding, I get my hair done. This woman did me up so well! Just perfect. Then, due to my character, the hair was completely mussed by other stylists and done so frequently throughout the day. I then get breakfast which I set down and go to makeup.

Now remember, I am masked. As an aside, I was in a mask for about 13 hours on this day, not fun. And it was warm and humid. Plus, because of the noise, the air conditioning, which isn’t much, is off when the camera is rolling on set. Fortunately, holding was air conditioned, which is where much of the day was spent.

The makeup artist looks at me and says I look fine as is (the character is in a distressed situation). I start toward my breakfast, but am called out with the other background (yes, we are considered background) for costume inspection. The head costumer is apparently a Hollywood legend and friend of Meryl Streep. She is elderly and walks with a cane, but was wonderful! I was standing with two other ladies and she referred to us as Charlie’s Angels. That is complete and now it is time to eat my breakfast!

But apparently, my makeup needed a major overhaul, so I then spent the next hour being remade by a Hollywood makeup artist! Well, that breakfast wasn’t as good now having sat for over two hours, but I ate it because you never know when you will have the chance to eat again.

I won’t bore you with many more details here. But I was on set for about three hours. I am in a major scene in the movie. The focal character in this scene walks past me while delivering dialog and we lock eyes, so I believe I will be in the movie, albeit briefly. I spent that three hours within three yards of one of the leads in the movie. I made an enormous number of connections. I made so many new friends. I was, frankly, in my glory telling stories and joking with other background actors during the long stretches of time waiting. We all talked, I joked, we played games, we stared at cell phones, we laughed, hugged, ate, wondered if we would ever get called. I ran into another background character who was in the last movie with me.

It was a truly life changing experience. I ended my day arriving home at 1:30 am, exhilarated and exhausted.

Oh yeah, before I left for work that morning, I found out I am in two separate scenes in another movie. Not one with this type of budget, but just another line on the resume I am building. Ferris Bueller said it so well many years ago, sometime you just have to say “What the f*@k!”.

Maybe it’s not so Hopeless, you just have to find the right path…….

Update No. 2: I have passed the first hurdle to be an extra on the upcoming Superman movie being shot in Cleveland and Cincinnati. Now that and $20 might get me a Happy Meal at McDonald’s, but it is something…


20 Responses

  1. My goodness what a day and fun time for our girl Kandi
    I so wish these so called experts would ditch the mask,
    They really do very little and as you say quite uncomfortable, exactly why so many crazy things on airplanes
    Glad you doing well and hope this will all turn out great

    1. What a great experience!! I prefer to spend my drama time on the podium directing the pit orchestra. There are a few roles I would like. Maybe one in La Cage Aux Folles. As they say in the theatre. “Break a leg”

  2. Kandi:

    SUCCESS!! I’ve followed you forever, and this seems to be the best news ever. I’m very happy for you and proud of you representing all of us. Every time one of us is given a chance to be our true selves in front of the “muggles”, so we are seen as ‘everywoman’ , is a huge step forward towards general acceptance.

    Well done young lady. Looking forward to the debut. (I hope you get a red carpet someday.)


  3. Another mountain climbed and conquered by the ever determined and effervescent Kandi. You even making the hours of waiting exciting, plus you got paid for your efforts and talents. Awesome!!!

    Truly happy for you Kandi.


  4. Wow !! So very cool. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us Kandi.
    Hope I’ll be able to catch the finished product when it comes out.

    1. I’ve recently posted about my first two movie premiers and a shoot in the LeBron James biopic about his high school years. The ones that have premiered are small local films. When I know where and how to see them, I’ll post all about it!

  5. Kand,
    Yet again I’m just exhausted reading your story , acting must be glamourous to a few to the rest it’s hard work .

    Could I do it or would I want to do it ? Truthfully I don’t think I’d have the patience , I can see what attracts you , the professional makeup and the backing of a wardrobe department .

    I was involved with a Shakespear theatre company for fourteen years so I appreciate the work of the costume , makeup and props departments , photographing the productions was very rewarding but very tiring often meaning long days . Obviously my rewards didn’t come from acting but from having my work used for programs , publicity and displays , even after many years of retiring all my work is still displayed around the theatre , bars and restaurant .

    I’m going to ask for permission to be photographed with some of my work if you would like to post them for other members .

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