A Day in the Life of an Extra

My adventures on the set of Six Feet Under

By Lisa Zion
Published on LatinoLA: September 5, 2004

A Day in the Life of an Extra

Okay, I know that if you want to be taken seriously as an actor that you should stay away from being an extra in films. However, you have to start somewhere and I have learned so much from being an extra. I've learned some important terminology. And I've met some interesting people including Tom Sizemore, Chuck Norris, Minnie Drive,r and Esai Morales.

Anyway, one of the best television shows is HBO's "Six Feet Under." The writing is excellent, the story lines are interesting and it makes you think. I'm tired of the usual comedy sitcoms with the canned laughter. "Six Feet Under" gets under your skin. It raises morality issues and invites discussion. Needless to say from the onset of the series, I was hooked. After the first series ended, I turned to my family and said, "I'm going to be on that show".

I registered with several extras casting agencies and checked their work lines religiously. And when I heard they were looking for Latinas and Salsa dancers for a night club scene, I screamed with joy. Now I am not a trained dancer, but I would have jumped through hoops to be on that show. I called them with my info and they called me and hired me for the show!

I reported to Gower Studios on a rainy February morning. I checked in and reported to wardrobe. I was told to wear a sexy blue halter top and a short skirt. I was freezing! I was excited to see about 98 other extras there. There were beautiful women, handsome men and the dancers were practicing and twirling. Thank goodness I was hired as a bar patron and not as a dancer. They worked those dancers for hours!

I met an interesting actor, Armando and his girlfriend Monica, who had just arrived in LA from Miami. Very nice fellow. We waited until they called us all into the bar scene. I was wondering what they would have us do. They positioned the dancers onto the floor and the various bar patrons throughout the bar.

The music began and people were salsa dancing. It was a blur of loud music, lights, cameras and action as we began filming the scene. It was then that I saw actor Freddy Rodriguez (pictured). He looked younger than I thought and he was so handsome. He moved effortlessly and was so professional. I also saw Justina Machado who plays his wife, Vanessa on the show.

Between lighting changes, I went up to Freddy and said hello. He smiled and said hi! I told him how much I enjoyed reading the article about him in Latina magazine where he was interviewed. He said it was true that he enjoys being a family man and how much the women in his life have influenced him. He smiled and thanked me for the compliment.

After we finished filming for the day, I thanked him and told him it was nice working with him. I was too shy to tell him how much it meant to me and other Latinos in our country to see him on a national cable network like HBO. I didn't tell him how excited I was for him and his wife to see them walking down the red carpet at the Emmy awards. I wanted to thank whoever hired Mr. Rodriguez for writing a latin family in the show. And for showing the love and care that these two family members show with their children and each other. Instead, I shook his hand and said thank you. I hope those two words were sufficient.

I started on the set at 8:30 am and we left at 8:00 pm. They took a busload of us back to Gower Studios and there ended another day of filming in Los Angeles. It was raining, dark and cold. But the bright lights of LA where everywhere, and as I left the security of Gower Studios, I wondered where my next assignment would take me.

About Lisa Zion:
Lisa Zion is an aspiring actress and writer. She would like to thank actors Esai Morales, Freddy Rodriguez and Herbert Siguenza for their encouragement and support. Lisa can be reached at:

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