Extras are those folks you never watch who are behind the people you always watch. They are walking props, often referred to as “atmosphere.” I atmosphered my way through 103 movies and TV shows between 1984 and 1988.
My first job as an extra was in a 1985 George Kennedy/Karen Black/Lance Henriksen vehicle called Savage Dawn. As I recall, Karen Black was part of a biker gang that was trying to take over a small Arizona town. It was a cold, dusty, night shoot. There was a tank involved. George Kennedy was an Arizona recluse in a wheelchair who had a harem of Asian girls. I was an Asian girl. I wore a cheongsam. I’m not Asian but that’s the magic of Hollywood. Not every job was so glamorous.
A rare gem from my illustrious background actor resume is a movie called The In Crowd, later re-named Dance Party. This film was set in 1965 and starred Jennifer Runyon. Who? Exactly. Donovan Leitch (Ione Skye’s brother) played her boyfriend. In a special supporting role, a young Joe Pantoliano later known as Ralph Cifaretto on the Sopranos, played a Dick Clark-like American Bandstand-ish host. It was a spectacular piece of entertainment.
Through the miracle of YouTube, I present to you one of my more awesome In Crowd scenes. (Skip to 1:04.) I dance off of the bus with my gigantic 80’s hair, wearing a red and black plaid skirt and white bobby sox. I return moments later with a stunning display of my awesome dance skills. (She can really clap!) I’m pretty sure it was seeing my work that inspired the producers to change the name of the film. Watch through to 1:22 so as not to miss any of my moves. There are at least two moves. Maybe it's just one move. It happens fast.
Donovan, or as he was nicknamed on set, “Madonnavan,” and I would soon be re-united on the set of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo but that’s another story, for another time.