Princess Diaries-

My brother and I decided to enter the acting business when he was twelve and I was ten. After countless auditions and tiring drives to San Francisco, a mere hour and fifteen minutes from our hometown of Modesto, we finally landed a role as extras in the Disney movie, The Princess Diaries. I was a freshman in high school and my brother was a sophomore. We were cast to be students at the prep school the main character, Mia, attended.

I was excited to be able to miss a whole week of school but I didn’t realize how much work I would be getting myself into. My brother, mother, and I had to get up before dawn each morning to get to the parking lot in San Francisco and load into the bus that would take us to a holding area for the extras. We were two uniformed child extras amidst a crowd of about 100 other kids, all with the dream of getting on camera. I had always been the “tag-along” child. My brother had wild expectations of landing a movie role and making it big. I just wanted to come along so I could get out of school early. In fact, I couldn’t even act! I only had taken one acting class in my short lifetime, as opposed to the weekly classes my brother attended. I never wanted to play someone else. I always wondered, why do I need to be a character when I like to just be myself?

The experience was a long day mainly full of waiting. When we finally did get picked to get sent up to set, my brother, mother, and I would load onto the bus and get dropped off feet from the set. The woman immediately chose my brother and I to stand in front of the camera and pretend we were talking. After what seemed like thirty shots later, my brother and I ran out of things to talk about. We decided to just “lip-sync” the conversation.

I was dressed in a schoolgirl skirt with knee socks and in the frigid San Francisco weather, I was standing there shaking after what felt like an hour or two. Also, my legs were tired and I just wanted to sit. I knew that if I asked the director for a break, he would put someone else in my spot and I would miss my chance at getting on screen so I just sucked it up. Being minors, we got mandatory meals, breaks, and study periods. My mother also accompanied us everywhere. Looking back, I think of all the sacrifices she made to get us a split second in a movie. She had constantly taken off work to drive back and forth to San Francisco. All she wanted was for us to be happy and as soon as we got sick of it, she would stop taking us. I never felt pushed, prodded, or manipulated into auditioning for a part by my parents. They were the perfect supporters.

The other extras were interesting folks. Most of them were cocky and certain their big break was just around the corner. They tried almost anything to get close to the stars of the movie, Anne Hathaway, Mandy Moore, and Julie Andrews. Luckily, the three stars were down to earth and very inviting. I remember one boy in particular was almost positive he was Mandy Moore’s new best friend. Any chance he had, he would inch closer and closer to her in a scene and brag that they were going out for drinks once the day had wrapped. My brother and I simply laughed at this kid.

Overall, I’m glad I experienced this opportunity because it made me realize this business is not for me. I can’t stand around all day repeating the same thing over and over. I also realized that for only $100 dollars a day, I’d rather stay in school and get a job that will make me more than that. I have fond memories of the experience and I even have the proof on DVD so I can show my friends I was in a movie. I know exactly where I am in every school scene, even if it’s not on the screen. I know that there are many people out there more enthusiastic about acting and getting their big break. My best advice is to not give up but also be careful not to get too discouraged if you don’t get a part right away. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting a part. There is nothing you can do because they are looking for someone different than you. Your part will come, just be patient. Don’t change just because they needed a blonde or someone skinnier. Don’t compromise the person God made you into; because He made the perfect role for you, you just have to figure it out.

 – Jennifer Wirowek