Kristin Luna
    Celebrities

How to Be an Extra on Nashville

Since we’re all such close friends around here, I know that you guys are every bit as addicted to Nashville as I am. And since you’re addicted to Nashville, I’m sure you watched last night’s episode. And if you saw last night’s episode, then surely you spotted my big TV debut … right?

No? You’re drawing a blank. I’ll give you a moment to replay the episode in your mind.

Still nothing? Well, maybe this will refresh your memory:

extra on TV show, NashvilleThat’s right folks: My hands, which Connie Britton grabbed in each take, made the cut. I always knew my wrists were destined for fame. Does anyone have a contact for a watch model agent?

extra on TV show, NashvilleAnd, in fact, SVV insisted we go back and watch all of the concert scenes again—I was there for the filming of all the on-stage performances by Hayden and Connie in last night’s episode—and we spotted me several times in the crowd.

extra on TV show, NashvilleMy mom asked, “are you sure that’s you? Looks more like a zombie to me.” Yep, that zombie of a face is indeed this girl right here.

extra on TV show, NashvilleBut I digress. Let’s rewind.

Right before Christmas, I was an extra on the set of Nashville for 12 hours, during which they shot three musical numbers (two by Juliette and Deacon, one by Rayna) for the current tour, as well as some B-roll and a promo. New songs! Killer dancing! Free swag! Even some pyrotechnics!

being an extra on the TV show NashvilleAnd I reached my life celebrity goal (if such a thing existed): I met Connie Britton. And she was even sweeter and prettier and tinier in person than I could have imagined. (And yes, I wanted to run my fingers through her hair but resisted the urge for fear security might find that a little weird and kick me out of the joint.)

Connie Britton in NashvilleBack when Nashville first debuted in October, I joined the On Location Casting’s Nashville Extras Facebook page, which anyone can do. If you want to be an extra, you’re then prompted to fill out a (free) profile form in their database and can throw your name in the hat for any extra opportunities that arise. Every day they film (usually five days a week), the show needs extras, but it’s difficult for many people (myself included) to have an entire 12 hours open to sit around and wait to be called.

It doesn’t pay a lot either, between $8 and $12 an hour with a guaranteed 12-hour day. And some days are pure “volunteer experiences” in which you don’t make a penny. But I gather you’d be doing it for the experience and not the money in the first place.

My friend Deanna, songwriter and performer extraordinaire, really wanted to go, and so when they opened up a day for volunteer crowds for the concert scenes, we pounced. Anyone could come, you didn’t even need a talent profile. And so we did. Deanna is a nurse and had just come off a 12-hour overnight shift; by the time we were finished filming, she’d been up for 36 hours straight! That’s dedication right there.

The day was a loooooong one. But it was also ridiculously fun. Here’s how it went down:

12pm. Arrive on set. Check in. Realize we dressed all wrong as it’s 30 degrees outside and we’re in a huge, drafty warehouse with concrete floors and open doors.

on set of the show Nashville1pm. Sit around the pit, wondering what we’re supposed to do. Decide to check out the snack line and fuel up on animal crackers and coffee.

1:45pm. Finally, we’re called! Deanna grabs my hand, more or less jumps in front of 300 people, resulting in us landing on the front row. We stand in the filming room another 30 minutes or so as the stand-ins do their thing, and finally Juliette comes out to film her “Consider Me” number (a song written by Pistol Annie, Ashley Monroe, who I couldn’t love more). Since it’s a slow number, there aren’t too many takes.

on set of the show Nashville3pm. Back to the pit! More sitting around, more waiting.

3:45pm. Suddenly, we are called again. More people have caught on that the faster you run, the closer to the stage you get. I figure lightning doesn’t strike twice. And yet sometimes it does. Deanna gets us on the front row again. This is when Connie comes out to do the song she sang last night. When she first emerges, she chats casually with all of us in the immediate vicinity. She is just darling. And then when she films, she walks up to me on every take and grabs my hands! I’m never washing those hands again (ewww).

Connie Britton on Nashville4:30pm. Her scene doesn’t take all that long, and then it’s back to the pit for another loooooong wait. The extra handlers decide to bump up the music a notch and start a dance contest. After it was over, many of us joined in for one big, sweaty dance party (line dancing! The Wobble! Gangnam Style!). It was super fun, a bit of a cardio workout and a great way to pass the time but—

on set of the show Nashville5pm. We were interrupted when we were called back in to do another scene! Drats. This one didn’t last long either, then back to the pit.

5:30pm. Early dinner in the form of pizza and more waiting. If you’re ever an extra, I advise you to bring the following: ample reading material, your phone charger and comfortable shoes. In a moment of weakness as I was walking out the door, I swapped my cowboy boots for some higher-heeled Vince Camutos, and my feet were not happy with me by the end of the night.

7:45pm. Finally, we are called back in for the remainder of the night. This time, it’s for the big dance number “I’m a Girl.” It was really fun to watch, though, as there was so much choreography and dramatics involved.

Charles Esten, Deacon on NashvilleIn between takes, Hayden and Charles would pal around with everyone. The two were clearly such close friends—and had such natural chemistry—I had to remind myself they’re not an item in real life (he’s pushing 50! though he doesn’t look a day over 38).

being an extra on the TV show NashvilleIt also was really hilarious how Charles was photobombing extras’ photos without them knowing.

being an extra on the TV show Nashville10pm. We had a bit of a break in the concert space while they changed out the set and then shot some B-roll with the actual pyrotechnics. This was supposed to be a short little promo, during which many of the extras left and the set emptied, but Deanna and I stuck it out. When it was all over, we waited while they did drawings for prizes. I didn’t win a new Kindle, but my name was drawn for an awesome Nashville prize pack (so the day was all worth it, ha).

2am. We finally arrive back home. Whew! What a long day. And Deanna being the budding starlet that she is already wants to do it all over again.

The funny thing about the whole scenario is that I actually had met Hayden when she was doing Heroes and I was the in-house reporter for Entertainment Weekly at the upfronts back in 2007. She didn’t blow me away…then. The next morning, I saw her again, this time in my office at Lucky (my day job then). Funny enough, the same night, I also met the Friday Night Lights cast, but seeing as the show was still in year one and many people weren’t watching it—I only started watching it the following summer before season two premiered—I (and many others) had no idea who any of them were. Totally missed opportunity on hobnobbing with Tami, Coach and Riggins. Sigh. On the other hand, Matt Saracen had come in our office the previous fall and had a meet-in-greet so I can add him to my list of celebrity acquaintances.

But this encounter endeared me to Hayden. It was a long shoot day, she had to play/sing/dance/perform the same songs over and over and over again, she was wearing an itty-bitty leather outfit and the most uncomfortable-looking heels, and she was just as sweet and hilarious as could be, talking to, interacting and joking around with the extras until we finally wrapped at midnight.

being an extra on the TV show NashvilleIn essence, it was a great day, I got to cross “being an extra” off my Life List, and I love the show even more now than I did before going on set and seeing how great the whole cast and crew truly are. I will definitely do this again the next time my schedule allows. Who wants to come with?

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Comments ( 37 )

  1. Me! Me! Me! I am so hooked on thatshow.

  2. Tell us more about the Nashville prize pack!!!!!! Just kidding. THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER!

  3. Ah! I love this. I DO love Nashville. What a fun opportunity. If I lived in Nashville I’d love to go… nothing ever seems to film here!

  4. Wow you’re so lucky, Nashville is my favorite show right now and the cast seems so cool. Jealous!!
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..Becoming the Queen of France – A Cake StoryMy Profile

  5. I do love this show, however I think sometimes there are too many story lines. I wish they would have sent Avery away when he got his deal and I could do without Gunnar having his own as well. What was the point of the episode with this brother? It came out of nowhere and then didn’t have an impact on anything going forward.

    • I 100% agree! I was hoping Avery would be booted once they broke up. I hate the political subplots. And Gunnar’s brother was so out of left field.

      More Scarlett! More Juliette! More Maisy and Lennon (Rayna’s kids) singing!

  6. Totally, TOTALLY something we would do just because. Can we squeeze that in between (while?) whiskey tasting?
    Kent @NVR recently posted..The Lottery of LifeMy Profile

  7. Meeeeee! *sigh* Wish I didn’t live so far away! haha Sounds like a mostly fun day, minus the hours of doing nothing. That’s why I always have a book with me! :)

  8. You always have the best celebrity adventures! When I come to visit, I wanna do this!
    Angie Away recently posted..An Encouraging Adopt-a-Slum UpdateMy Profile

  9. It sounds like a [long] fun day! I am trying to think what show I would want to be an extra on, but am brain dead, all I can think of is SATC (over) and movie sets I’d want to be on!
    Andi recently posted..J’adore #48 (Candy Edition 2)My Profile

  10. What a great experience. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t get paid! I’m not too far from Nashville so I liked the facebook page. Love this story.

  11. Looks like so much fun! I would go with you if I was in Nashville! I’ve also wanted to do extra work and you would like living in NYC would give me so many opportunities and I still haven’t done it yet!
    Danee Sarman recently posted..Victorian Long Island City QueensMy Profile

  12. I haven’t watched Nashville yet, but I want to. I really like Connie Britton. I’m behind the times and just started watching FNL on Netflix, and her character on that show is so endearing.
    Bess recently posted..Restaurant Review: The UniversalMy Profile

  13. So cool! Being an extra is on my life list too and sounds like quite the adventure!
    terra recently posted..{5 Points} Things about Raccoon Cat and Possum CatMy Profile

  14. I’d love to be an extra! A friend just finished working as one on a movie with Kevin Costner they’re filming here in Paris, she has some great photos from the set, especially one of them all celebrating Costner’s birthday! Another friend in Paris was also an extra on American Dreams back in the day…it looks like so much fun!
    Edna recently posted..The Fairy Tale of KishMy Profile

  15. Sounds like such a fun experience, and something I would TOTALLY do in order to appear on one of my fave shows…. I would love to be the person discovering the body on Law and Order :)
    Alex recently posted..Photo of the Week 87My Profile

  16. Don’t kill me but I have no clue what Nashville is?! Looks like you had fun though!
    Erica recently posted..Moroccan Food: Free Cooking Class with Williams SonomaMy Profile

  17. Haha…are you on your way to fame??
    Federico recently posted..The Best Things to do and Places to See in Seville, SpainMy Profile

  18. I have never been an extra but despite all the waiting around people seem to love it.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Warming up to Winter in Niagara on the LakeMy Profile

  19. Kristin,
    Are you going to be an extra tomorrow? I am. I’m excited! Enjoyed reading your post & hope to see you there!

  20. Totally love this show and totally saw your hand! How fun! Love this behind the scenes! And I don’t know how you resisted touching Connie Britton’s hair – it is gorgeous!
    ememby recently posted..Parenting LessonsMy Profile

  21. That sounds like an exhausting day, but it also sounds really fun! And it’s always nice when the actors are friendly and interact with the “civilians.”
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Keeping it simple at Carmelo PattiMy Profile

  22. Wow what a great opportunity you got to participate! Like Ememby mentioned, still loving Charles aka Chip Esten from his Whose Line days. Looking as good as ever. :)

  23. I’m going this Tuesday. How early should I arrive to wait in line?

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  1. [...] {P.S. Check out my friend Kristin’s blog post about “starring” as an extra in this episode!} [...]

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