I was in a movie once! It was super exciting!
The whole process was super long… Having to get my head shots done & nervously sending them in, getting that exciting call from my agent that I got the part. I don’t think anything could ever match that excitement!
KIDDING. None of that happened.
I don’t have head shots.. I sure as hell don’t have an agent.. BUT! I was really in a movie once! Sort of.. I was an extra in the movie “Straight Out of Compton” a few years ago.
So I forgot about it. Throughout the week I kept hearing the commercial & my brother convinced me to look into it. So I did! I went to the website, made an account & signed up. It was that easy!
A few weeks went by & WE WERE IN!
I got an e-mail that let me know the location, where to park, & the dress code for the scenes that we’d be shooting. My brother & I were going to be in the concert scenes of the movie. I don’t remember the exact words that they used for dress code, but I basically had to dress as if I were attending a 90’s concert.
Now, if you know me you’ve heard me complain about any type of wardrobe “dress code” that I have to follow. My wardrobe strictly consists of concert tee’s, band tee’s, & jeans. That’s it.
I had about a week & went crazy looking for something to wear. I went to every store in town looking for something that I would be comfortable in, yet still looked “90’s” enough to not stick out so much. In reality I wanted to wear some short jean shorts, with a black tee, maybe a Raider hat. What’s more N.W.A. than that? Could I have pulled it off? At the time I knew I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do so. But if I could go back in time.. I’d totally do it no matter the negative thoughts going through my head.
Anyway, snap back to reality… I ended up buying a gold & black skirt (Yes, I know so lame. TOTALLY opposite of what I was trying to go for..) & a black blouse hoping that I’d be able to blend in with the crowd. I knew I’d be too short to notice my skirt anyway, so the only problem was becoming comfortable enough to be in it for however long the shooting would be..
The afternoon of the shoot my brother & I made our way to Santa Monica. We were worried as hell during the drive there because we didn’t realize how much traffic we were going to get. (I wasn’t an experienced LA driver at the time. Horrible of me, I know.)
We finally get to Santa Monica & find the designated parking lot. We enter the lot & were stopped by security. I tell him that we’re here for the Straight Out of Compton movie shoot.
He says, “Are you? Well it’s $50 for the day to park here. What time will you be leaving?”
I was in shock. Not only did I not have $50 on me, but I made sure to make my way to that specific parking lot because it was supposed to be free! So I tell him, “I was told parking here would be free &..”
The security guard laughs & says, “I know hun. I was just messing with you! Place this on your rear view mirror, make your way to the shuttle & have fun.”
Then it began. I parked the car & I immediately felt uncomfortable. I was comparing myself to other girls that were on the shuttle. They were all so pretty, they fit the description of 90’s so well! They had the white tee’s with jean shorts, Nike’s & Raider hats.. I tried my best not to stick out & I did anyway. Thank goodness nobody else noticed, if they did nobody made it obvious so the feeling started to fade.
We got dropped off a few blocks away where tents were set up so security could check our I.D’s & make sure we didn’t have any weapons. Then we were sent to another line where release forms would be signed & were told to wait until they gave us direction.
While waiting in line to sign release forms, everyone started to freak out. I had no idea what was going on until I turned around & saw Ice Cube walking by me! Yes, thee Ice Cube had just walked past me & all I could do was just stare, frozen. It was pretty awesome.
After we signed the release forms, we were guided to another huge tent Have you ever been to a quinceanera or an outdoor wedding where they use those huge white tents with clear plastic as windows? (If not google it.) It was a huge tent like that, filled with tables & chairs where everyone was sitting, just waiting for something to happen.
They gave each of us a brown lunch bag that had a sandwich, a drink, & a bag of chips in it. I felt like I was on a field trip! Not to sound ungrateful or anything, (because I was super excited to be there) it just took me back to my elementary days. Honestly, they didn’t have to feed us if they didn’t want to. Something is always better than nothing though.
Out of nowhere people started stumbling out of the tent. If there was an announcement, I had missed it & began to follow the crowd. We were led into a gym where a stage was built looking straight out of the past. (See what I did there? Hehe.) With a N.W.A. banner below the DJ booth, fences set up just like their concerts, it was all unreal.
They explained to us that if they saw us with our phones out we’d be kicked out (I wasn’t), if they found our posts online they’d be flagged or taken down (they weren’t), & that if you didn’t follow directions they had the right to kick you out (some people were).
They crew split us into four groups & told us if we couldn’t stay for the duration of the shoot to leave. That way you wouldn’t be in one scene, then gone within the next when they edited. They told us if you don’t know the words to the song, don’t sing along because it will throw off the shot, & to synchronize ourselves as a crowd when it came to hand movements. Seemed fairly simple, right? Wrong. (But I’ll get to that later.)
Director F. Gary Gray was present & that was pretty exciting! Not only does he have the chillest demeanor ever, he’s directed some of my favorite movies & music videos so it was truly an honor to be in his presence. (My brother & I joke that he’s technically our boss/friend. Hehe.)
Then the actors came out on stage & it was so awesome. Not only because I think O’shea (Ice Cube’s son, who plays Ice Cube in the movie) is really cute, but because I never thought I’d be within the same building as these actors. Let alone the same freakin’ movie!
It was a blast from the past, the actors looked so much like the members of N.W.A. They came out wearing white tee’s, gold chains, with their Raider hats & jersey’s smiling at all of us. It was unbelievable!
Acting as the concert crowd we were supposed to be singing along to the songs, “We Want Eazy”, “Gangsta Gangsta”, & “8 Ball” while moving from section to section of the building to “fill-in” the spots. That way when edited it’d look like a full arena. Awesome right? “Movie Magic!” (Not all of the songs made it into the film though.)
You would think that by just having to film a crowd singing to 3 songs, you would be done within an hour or so.. right? Wrong.
We were on set from about 5 PM to 3AM…
During certain scenes, they would have the music play so they could get footage of just the crowd & people kept messing up the shots. When the camera would soar over the crowd people would push & shove each other. Then the people that ended up being shoved would end up making weird or uncomfortable faces on camera so we’d have to shoot the scene over & over & over…
It was pretty irritating, but a small price to pay in order to experience being in a movie.
During one particular scene, (I believe it was during the crowd shot of “Gangsta Gangsta”) we were all supposed to be bobbing our heads & moving our hands in sync to the music.. Turns out one person (who was in the front & clearly within the shot according to the director.) wasn’t doing either of those things. So director came on stage & without wanting to single anyone out said something along the lines of, “Everyone, I need all of you to be in sync. Especially the people in the front who are in the shot the most at the moment.. We good?”
Of course we all agreed & started the shot again.
Apparently the person in the front didn’t follow directions again so she got called out!
The crew told the crowd, “So someone in the front isn’t following directions! Should we reshoot & give her another chance.. Or should we kick her out?”
Being frustrated as hell having to do the scene over & over again, we all shouted, “Kick her out!” So she was escorted out… I legit kind of felt bad, but I was tired, I wanted the scene to get done, & well c’mon now! How hard was it to bob your head to the music!!
Aside from being super tired, that was the only negative thing that happened all night. In between shots while the actors were getting their hair & outfits fixed they talked to the crowd. It was pretty awesome. The one actor who made an amazing impression on me was Neil Brown Jr. who played DJ Yella.
He was very talkative with the crowd, it helped the time go by a bit faster & he’s pretty funny. (You should look him up & see the shows he’s gotten himself into recently.)
One conversation he had with us was about his middle name. He told the small group of people that were in front of him that if we could guess his middle name without googling it that he’d (in his words), “Give ya a whole rack. Right now. I swear, I’ll give you a rack if you guess it!”
Nobody guessed it, & honestly I don’t even remember what his middle name was. He was truly a cool guy though, making such a great impression on me that I support him & all his recent endeavors.
Before the last of the scenes were shot, Ice Cube came out on stage to speak to all of us. He thanked us for being a part of history & for being real fans of N.W.A. We shot the last few scenes, & then were allowed to leave.
My brother & I didn’t get home until about 5AM. It was a long day but one I won’t ever forget! We sort of went “back in time” & legit saw N.W.A. in concert.. The whole shooting process of it made me look forward to hopefully one day working on set either as an actress, or as part of the crew but “don’t quote me boy cause I ain’t said shit.”
When the movie was released in August of 2015, my brother & I went to go see it. Not to find ourselves in the scenes (but we did try), but because we’re hip hop fans. Why else would be agree to be extras in a movie for free if we weren’t? Yes, it was a dope experience but in reality we just wanted to take the opportunity to be a part of a film that we hoped would be great. That we hoped would truly show the story of N.W.A. & how their music impacted society.
It’s been about 2 years & I still haven’t been able to find myself within any scenes of the movie. I’m just so short, the crowd was huge, & well let’s face it; was the camera really going to focus on me for more than half a second? C’mon now!
Anyway.. Enjoy some of the video footage I got of Ice Cube before someone came into the crowd & told me to put my phone away.