The Life of an Extra: My Interview with Shannon Berry

Have you ever watched a TV show or a movie and wondered where all those extras come from? Like, where on earth do the other students in a classroom come from? Or the diners in a restaurant, the soldiers on a battlefield?

I don’t know how many of you ever think of these but I do all the time. Hey, I’m a Ravenclaw.

Luckily enough, I know someone who could give me the answers to my curiosity.

Her name is Shannon Berry and she does work as an extra. I met her through a friend of mine and she’s really awesome. I got to talking to her and I knew that I had to write about her. She’s worked on shows like Awkward, NCIS, CSI NY, 2 Broke Girls, The New Girl, Dexter, Weeds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development…just to name a few.

I mean, how cool and badass is that? I’m sure plenty of you, like me, have watched some of these shows and are impressed as I was.

So I hit her up and she agreed to answer some questions for me. And the answers were pretty awesome.

Have you always acted?

I always knew I wanted to be in entertainment, I wanted to be a backup dancer when I was a kid but I cant dance so that ruled that out. I always did plays in school but didn’t start taking it seriously as a career until I was in my early 20’s, especially when nothing else I tried career wise made me happy.

What made you get into the business?

I always knew I wanted to entertain somehow and I love movies and TV and just thought it would be awesome to be one of those people in there.

What is it like to be an extra?

Its great! I get to be on great shows and learn the in’s and out’s of the world from others who have more experience. They also feed you great food and sometime [you get to} wear fun clothes lol

What is your favorite part?

Free food lol

What does it really take to be an extra?

If its your only job (like me) a lot of patience and determination, also a good understanding of yourself and how others see you is really helpful.

What does it take to be an actress?

A thick skin, you get told no a lot, and sometimes its hard when you positively think you fit but they tell you no because you are not what they think you should be. There is more rejection then most people would ever think.

How do you find jobs?

Central Casting for the most part right now, calling in daily, seeing what they have and submitting. I also use craigslist sometimes and do searches on the internet for open calls and email submissions.

Do you have an agent?

Not currently, I have in the past but it was before I moved to LA, I’m working on it though!!

What are some of your favorite jobs?

Awkward was really fun because everyone is so nice. I also loved working on 2 broke girls.

What are your ambitions in acting?

I just want to make a career out of it, I’m not in it to be famous though sometimes it just happens. I would be perfectly happy with a recurring role on a successful TV show.

What’s the downside of acting? What don’t we see from behind the flashing lights and glamour?

The rejection, the unknown of when you will get work and sometimes you get treated bad on set like not fed when you’re supposed to, not having cold water when its hot, instead only room temp, no shade, sunburns. Dressing like its freezing when its over a hundred and vice versa.

What would be your dream job?

I would love to land a lead role in a series of some sort whether movie or tv, and be able to do justice to it.

Have you met anyone famous?

Oh yea, pretty much everyone on all the shows I have worked on, they don’t keep us segregated from the main talent so every once and a while you bump into them in the lunch line or snack line but there’s quite a bit of interacting on camera to.

What’s your coolest on set story?

When Fred Savage came up and shook my hand after he asked me to do something in a scene in 2 broke girls


So there you have it, my friends. Honestly, after getting to know Shannon a bit more and finding out about her cool job. Sure, we always have downsides in the job. I think the only job in the world that would be perfect is getting paid to sleep for eight hours a day. And my second novel, the one I’m currently editing is all about the celebrity life and Shannon gave me a real nice insight to what its like to be behind the scenes. I’m jealous of some of the cool people she got to meet and for a job I’m sure lots of people would like to do! I urge you all to click on her name above and become fans of hers on Facebook. She’s nice as hell and I wish her the best of luck in everything that she does in the future :D

Have any questions for me or Shannon? Hit me up in the comments below or check out her facebook, linked above. Check out some of the pictures below of Shannon’s work!

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As a bridesmaid (yes, with unibrows) on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for an episode airing this Thursday, 10/25.

As a high school student on Awkward.

On the set of Arrested Development for the new seasons coming in summer of 2013, again, as a bridesmaid.

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