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Keepin It Real ~Chapter 1 by Jacqueline Nyahay

January 2011 ~

New Year's Day I woke up beside Ed in Ohio.  We were flying out the following morning to return to Burbank after a delightful week spent with his family in the winter wonderland they lived in.  I had dreamt about the end of the world, I was at the beach with Ed and Zyla when all of a sudden fireballs were falling from the sky in a breathtaking show.  No one was frightened, it was as if this was a magical display we were privileged to see, but in the back of my mind I knew it must mean something.  Everyone sat around talking about how amazing it was as the night fell into darkness again.  When the sun came up over the horizon it shined light on a massive wave that was heading straight for us.  Everyone ran in a panic to get to higher ground.  My family made it safely up to the highest level of a parking structure and the waters swirled up after us. 

As we left Ohio the weather had warmed and all the snow melted away.  Our flight went smoothly and we arrived back in Burbank to more rain.  When we left it had rained non-stop for a week, now and it had started again.  Funny thing was it got so cold it snowed in Santa Clarita, something that had not happened in the Valley in 22 years, and I remember when it did, because I use to go to school in the Valley.  And that year, my mom drove me out to school and we found a winder wonderland waiting for us, ditching classes to make snowmen and all.  I waited all day Monday for a call from Jessica's A List to finish my registration.  By 4:30pm, I called them and left a message.  They immediately called back and I finalized everything.  I emailed Joey's List to say good-bye.  I called Central and emailed all my favorite casting directors to tell them I had switched.  Immediately I was called with a booking on CSI.  I thought it was a funny coincidence when I found out it was through Sande Alessi Casting.  The first gig I got from XM was through them as well!  I was going to be doing a photo shoot and playing the mom.  There were four different shots and I had to bring a ton of wardrobe.  Set was at the Universal Studios Lot, I was thankful it was close to home.  I had a late call time and got there early so I hung out in holding which was the catering tent.  I found the production trailer and let them know I was there.  When the wardrobe girls showed up they said it smelled in the tent and it looked like mold had formed all over the walls due to the recent torrents of rain.  They said I should get out of there and they brought me back to their trailer.  They looked at my clothes but had no idea what the girl playing my daughter would be wearing.  Then I heard the story behind my character, Sabrina, is that I was in a car accident, and then my daughter kills her father and dismembers him.  So I'm playing the mother of a murderous 14-year-old girl spreading body parts around town.  Seemingly perfect follow up to my previous Dexter days.  I was given my own room and hung out there for an hour.  Then our happy family road in the van to the big wardrobe building to be fitted for our photo shoot.  Wardrobe went with all their own things and I loved all the outfits they picked out for me.  The girl playing my daughter was really friendly and professional and we had fun conversations in the van riding back and forth from one location to the next and back to change clothes, etc.  We took a cute happy family shot at some house in the back lot with the sun setting.  We drove past Whoville on our way to a vacation cabin home where we took our next shot.  The last two shots were on the soundstage, one a business shot as the father and I were playing lawyers.  Then a portrait type shot and we were done for the day.  Well, not exactly.  They had to upload and approve the pictures, then forgot they needed ID badge pictures so we walked over to the production offices and shot some quick pictures against the solid white and then solid blue walls.  The turn around for getting the episode out was going to be about two weeks, that's fast, so I was looking forward to seeing my episode ‘All that Cremains' hopefully online soon!  Four hours and I was wrapped and on my way home in time for dinner with the family.

While on set, I got a call from Jessica's with another gig for tomorrow!  I wound up on 90210 again, but this time in Hollywood on the subway shooting a quick scene down there.  It was fun and a little crazy since it was 2nd Unit and there was no lock up, so the subway was running and random regular people were always walking through the shot.  I had fun sitting on the platform on my folding chair watching the people get on and off the trains.  Reminded me of my New York days and the subway shoot we did for the bank commercial.  Good times, and again another quick 4-hour day.

I was excited to sign Zyla up at Kids Management on Saturday.  Jessica's List mentioned that since I was union, they might be able to book Zyla and I together meaning I would get paid too and not be taking a day off work so she could.  Sounded good to me!

My new year was off to a good start and I got a call from Bryan the casting director at Central.  He said he needed to talk to me about standing in.  I called him back and I don't know if he was messing with me or just forgot who I was, but he started asking for my stand-in experience.  I told him about Dexter and Better Off Ted.  I reminded him I had just worked on his show a month or so ago.  So he booked me on No Ordinary Family again to stand in the following day.  I was on second unit, but for this show it doesn't mean what it usually does.  We had full catering, and hot meals every 3 hours; some first units don't even have that!  This time I wasn't working with the high school kids.  I thought the show was some teenybopper thing, but it has this whole other side to it.  I met more of the stand ins, Greg who does the lead Michael Chiklis and Sabrina who does Julie Benz.  I had been told I was coming to set to stand in for the dead girl and would be lying on the floor all day.  It was for Rebecca Mader playing Victoria.  But when I first showed up to set, I met everyone and was told I would also be standing in for Michael in this complicated fight scene where Victoria's character has shape-shifted to look like Michael.  Welcome to our set, you will be playing dead on the floor and we want to throw you in the trunk of a car later, but first this guy is going to get on top of you.  Sounds awesome, I took it all in stride, I love standing in.  Greg wasn't really on top of me in a bedroom type sense.  I was lying on the couch and he was above me but my foot was pushed up on his chest like I was kicking him off of me.  I was thankful I had worn my tennis shoes and not my muddy boots from hiking the day before.  The stunts were intense.  A wire was rigged into the wall and yanked back the stunt actor from the couch to the wall against this whole bookcase that falls apart.  It was crazy to witness, they were smashing and breaking things all day in the fight sequence.  Joaquin was DP again and he was frustrated because all day it seemed like he spoke instructions and they were misinterpreted.  Greg explained that before Christmas they had been told there would be random Saturdays they would be working as well.  So this past weekend had been the first and with only Sunday off and going late Saturday and early call Monday, everyone was more on edge than usual for a Tuesday.  But the crew created such a loving embracing atmosphere and I loved all my time working on set with them.  I shook hands with Michael Chiklis as I was lying dead on the floor and  amidst the chaos of the fight, he came over to say ‘So you wanna be in showbiz'.  Greg had to wear these 3-inch high heel boots to match Michael's height and the director always insisted on seeing him in them, even when it didn't matter about height because let's say he was on the floor or something.  The shoes were funny and the crew liked taking pictures of him in them.  The other stand-in Kevin showed up at 4pm but we were running hours behind so I told him to relax it would be a while until we got to his stuff.  I recognized him from last year when we had stood in on Flash Forward on this same sound stage!  So crazy how that got cancelled and all those sets are gone and now it's all about No Ordinary Family.  I hope ABC doesn't self-sabotage another show this one seemed really cool.  We finally were ready to move on to the location house on the street next to the Disney lot.  It was a couple houses down from the one we used to use for Flash Forward.  I went to the backyard and hung out by the pool, it was getting cold and the cloud cover made seeing the stars near impossible but the half moon was shining through in a blurry haze.  A nude dummy doll was placed in the trunk and I thought maybe I wouldn't be used, but after a while I was called to set to climb in the trunk.  I think the electricians were a little disappointed to hear this wasn't my first time in the trunk of a car.  Last time was on CSI NY when I played the dead realtor.  It really wasn't bad because they put the backseat down so I could spread out my legs and get my face in just the right place for camera.  I also wouldn't suffocate when they shut the trunk lid.  Finally got it all lit and shooting began.  My girl was wrapped not only for the night but this was her last night on the show.  I was wrapped out as a light rain started to fall.  Three hours overtime and I made it home in time to say good night prayers with Zyla before she fell asleep.

Usually in January SAG members get screeners to view for the upcoming voting.  This year, no screeners were sent, but instead Fox sent a postcard saying members could download from itunes rentals of a few of their movies.  So I watched 127 Hours that way.  What an intense movie!  I loved the location; I want to go hiking there so bad!  The story was intense and I cried at the end even though it was a happy ending, it was an emotional roller coaster he went on.  Conviction was the other movie I watched this way, another based on a true story with Hilary Swank, one of my favorite actresses. 

Got a call from Jessica's saying I was booked on a night call for Torchwood to stand-in.  Night calls always throw me off, so I booked out for the following day, which was going to be Friday.  I woke up on Thursday and took Zyla to school then went and got groceries and then tried to chill and get ready for a nap.  I finished watching the last 2 episodes of United States of Tara on the first disk I had from Netflix.  Brilliant show as always, I loved the new therapist alter she created.  I laid down for a nap and was able to get a few hours sleep before waking up to get ready for set.  I picked Zyla up from school, got her through homework and made dinner for the family before heading out to Warner Brothers Studio for the night.  Torchwood is a BBC sci-fi show, which has a following here in the US.   They decided to shoot their current season here so 10 episodes were slated.  The crew was on their 4th day together and everything seemed to be running smoothly.  I got my voucher, color cover, signed the confidentiality agreement and headed to set.  I met up with Linda and later Allison the regular stand-ins on this show.  I was told there had been some 16 hour days, but to get their day shots for Friday we wouldn't be going that long.  Tentative wrap was 6am.  The evening went smooth.  I stood in for Marina Benedict playing Charlotte.  She was cool, thanked me for standing in.  It was easy set ups, just office type scenes, so sitting at a desk, standing in the hall, nothing crazy.  Lunch was at midnight and the coffee truck came and a double shot Caramel Machiado warmed me up and helped keep my eyes wide open.  Around 4am, my eyelids started getting heavy and I kept sitting in my chair staring up at the ceiling, trying to stay awake.  We had minimal light at best since house lights are off during filming, so I didn't want to strain my eyes reading.  I ended up closing them for what felt like an hour but an electrician woke me up and it had only been 20 minutes.  Breakfast was being served and that helped wake me back up.  We got out early at 5:20am and I was able to get home and wake up Zyla, get her ready and take her to school.  I got home and crashed out at 8am, but had to wake up again to get her from school at 1pm.  I ate lunch with her and then we took a nap all afternoon.  My body sleep schedule finally got back to normal, and Ed and I watched a screener that came in the mail from The Weinstein Company.  Guess I had spoken too soon, an actual DVD came to SAG members this year The King's Speech.  I was into it, but was tired and it was a little slow so I ended up passing out half way through.  You have to ask yourself are night shoots worth it, when they can mess up your sleep schedule so much and you get paid for one night but meanwhile have to book out an extra day just to recover.  But it is worth it to me because as tired as I get, I love staying up all night long feeling like I own the lot, playing under the stars and livin the dream my way.:)

Jessica's called to book me for Monday on The Defenders as BG playing a court visitor and then changing over to doctor.  Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I was surprised productions were evening filming since it seemed like everyone else had the day off.  I ended up going to bed by 9pm and waking at 3:30am to get ready for set.  We were on location close to downtown L.A. and I arrived to set early and had breakfast.  The first few scenes of the day were outside, and the weather was amazing.  I mean it was hard remembering it was still January with temperatures going up into the high 70's.  Our holding had a ping-pong table in it, and sitting close by, I was hit by many a ping-pong ball.  It was all good, I hung out with my friend Gerald, the stand-in from Flash Forward and we got caught up on what had been going on since that show ended.  Jim Belushi was the big star on set and no phones were allowed.  He arrived in a private car and drove right up to our exterior courthouse set, got out walked over did the scene and then we went back to holding.  The day went by pretty smoothly.  Lunch was catered and amazing.  I got changed into my doctor outfit of oxblood red scrubs and a doctor's coat and sat in holding for a few hours.  The doctors, nurses and patients were shuttled over to the St. Vincent Hospital to do our scene there.  We sat in a new holding area for an hour or so before they brought half of us to set.  One of the BG told me it was distracting talking to me because I look so much like Cameron Diaz.  Then the doctors were wrapped and I never made it to set in the doctor outfit, oh well.  Got home in time to give Zyla her bath and do bedtime prayers.  Social Network arrived in the mail as a screener from SAG so I enjoyed learning about how Facebook came about, something I do not participate in but found interesting.


SAG sent an email announcing more free iTunes rental downloads instead of screeners being mailed.  So I downloaded The Kids Will Be Alright, The Fighter and Rabbit Hole.  Zyla had been sick all week, so I was happy Jessica's didn't have any work for me until Friday.  I found myself booked on Big Time Rush, a Nickalodeon show that was filming at Paramount.  My call time was late in the afternoon, so I was able to take Zyla to and from school before heading to set.  The crew call had been at 7am, so I wasn't expecting a night shoot, just a few hours.  Parking was at the Lemongrove Structure, but that meant walking all the way across the lot to the productions stages.  When I made it to holding, we were told it would be around 2 hours down time.  That there was limited food and crafty was on set, which was a moving location since they were shooting all over the place that day.  I was playing a restaurant patron and our scene was outside on a moonlit patio.  The full moon really was out and rose up over us as the evening went on.  I was seated next to the principals' table.  The scene was the one boy trying to act like a jerk to get the girl to break up with him and go off to her acting career opportunity in New Zealand.  We had to keep reacting to his craziness.  I enjoyed hanging with the BG at my table, we were having a lot of laughs and fun with the moments and in between times.  My friend and prop master extraordinaire from BOT, Jason, was on set and it was great seeing him and catching up on old times.  He said they usually had 14-hour days, so I was thinking I'd be done around 10pm.  We wrapped out shortly after 10pm and I headed back across the very dark, empty lot to the lonely back gate I'd entered from.  

Over the weekend Ed, Zyla and I met up with my friend Sean and his adorable twins Taylor and Dylan at the Los Angeles Zoo.  I loved wandering around observing all the animals and watching the reaction the children had to their many antics.  

The following week Jessica called me to say Bryan, the casting director at Central would be calling me directly to return to No Ordinary Family.  As I drove onto the Disney lot the security guards were telling me my drivers license picture looked great and I looked like Cameron Diaz.  Willow Smith's song I Whip My Hair Back N Forth played in my mind as I stood in all morning for the Visual Effects Unit.  We were shooting at the Disney lot in the Prop/Drape Building.  It housed an immense green screen and I sat in a director's chair and was told, look right, look left, look forward, whip your hair.  Over and over again, for all the different stop levels on the cameras.  It was a big camera test for some future thing they were doing with one of the actresses.  We then took it outside and more of the same, except with full sunlight and then less, diffused, etc.  I headed back into the sound stage and grabbed some food.  For a second unit type deal we were well fed.  I then had to lie down on a mattress and play dead, my favorite!  The lead of the show, Michael Chiklis, was coming in to do a bunch of green screen shots and I had to set them all up for him.   Another shot I set up was kneeling on a table and acting like I was fighting with it.  Then I set up a shot for Kay Panabaker who plays Daphne.  It was an easy fun day and I was wrapped out right after the walk away lunch.


I was a little disappointed I only got one job that week, but Friday came and I got my first text from Kids Management about a possible gig for Zyla.  I immediately called and heard the details for the job shooting on Monday and called the next number I was given.  I was then put on hold and waited, hoping I had been fast enough to get Zyla on the call.  I finally got through and booked Zyla on her first gig working Southland as an inner city kid on a school bus coming home.  I then called Jessica's to book out so I could take Zyla, but they already had me booked on No Ordinary Family's second unit for Monday standing in.  I accepted my job and Ed was able to take the day off work to take Zyla to her first gig.    For her first time on set, she had the most amazing experience ever.  It was a small call, only 14 children and shooting in downtown LA.  The entire street was shut down for production and the bus is hijacked and then cops come and the children have to portray fear and cry as they exit the bus and explain what happened to the police officers.  So she had a bit of real acting for her first time and she pulled it off and was enchanted by the whole experience and wants to go again.  Meantime, I went to set and stood in for Rebecca Mader, who plays Victoria again.  I thought the last time I stood in for her that her character died and she was off the show, but this episode Lucy Lawless, playing Mrs. X brought her back to life.  The 1st AD wasn't happy that I didn't match Rebecca's height when she put on her heels since I didn't bring any, but the 2nd AD reminded him I had stood in for Rebecca before and it was fine because we were both 5'7".  The other stand in Holly, brought in for Lucy was told to bring heels but she still didn't match the height of Lucy in her 4 inch stilettos.  We shot all over the Disney lot and then made our way back to stage 2 for the hospital bed scene.  I met some more of the regular stand-ins on the show and couldn't believe that this show always seemed to have two full units running every day, this show must cost a fortune to produce!  I was able to go home on walk away lunch and made it back to set in perfect time.  Bryan the casting director at Central called me later in the afternoon wanting to know if I was really 5'7".  I thought maybe someone had complained about the issue in the morning with me not being tall enough or something, so I immediately called him back to confirm I am 5'6 ½" in flip flops but with my tennis shoes on I am 5'7".  He said he wanted me to stand-in for someone else the following day who was short so to be as short as possible.  An hour later Jessica's List called to give me the same details and I confirmed the job. 


The following day I returned to No Ordinary Family's first unit and stood-in for Julie Benz who plays Stephanie Powell.  Her regular stand-in Sabrina was working another show and gone for the week and I thought maybe this could turn into a couple days for me.  I worked with Greg, Michael Chiklis regular stand-in again and we had a fun morning of me playing dead.  I met another regular stand-in Matt who explained about the new DP.  The new DP had some weird quirks we'd never seen before.  He liked stand-ins to be on all marks, so even if there are only 2 actors in a scene he wanted all the stand-ins in for the day, to be on all the different stop marks in the room.  This meant that at points in the day I would be standing on Lucy Lawless mark, even though I was blond where she was brunette and much shorter than her.  I also stood-in for Stephen Collins who plays Dr. King and Kay Panabaker who plays Daphne just so all the marks are filled.  The DP liked to be able to light and do everything all at once.  I don't know that this way saved time, because it seemed like we were running behind and this unit was taking forever all day.  But somehow the last few scenes were finished up quickly and we were wrapped out in 12 hours.  The lunch was catered which is rare, and everyone wondered if it was a last gift to crew since the show just had it's last 3 episodes slated to shoot cancelled.  Was this show going to go the way of all the Disney shows I worked on?  I didn't know, but I found it interesting when I had a de ja vue moment on set in the Global Tech scenes.  I realized the entire set was Flash Forwards old FBI set, just revamped and painted differently.  It made sense considering it was the same sound stage that FF had shot on last year.  So Disney saved some money not having to build a brand new set, just a mini make over and all of a sudden the FBI headquarters is now Global Tech.

Keepin It Real ~ Chapter 2 February 2011 Click Here to continue reading...

Edward made a cute youtube video of Zyla's 1st day on set mixing in some cute family pics!