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Cache of Characters Not Dead Yet ~ by Jacqueline Nyahay

Jacqueline's '08 Memoirs ~ LA Atmosphere IV

February 14th, 2008, Valentine’s Day came and the WGA Strike ended after 100 days.  I started calling the hotlines like crazy knowing the work would have to start up.  I rarely call on the weekends because usually there is nothing put up, but a little voice in my head said I should do so on Saturday, so I call up Central Castings hotline and hear a notice for “Car Call-Dark Cars” for the movie “The Soloist”.  Usually I never get to use my car, No Red, White or Black, is usually how it goes but I decide to call in and using both phones on speed dial finally got through after 30 minutes and booked it.  That is how I got back in the game! 


For the past two months things had been non-existent.  No surprise that 2008 started off the same as last year with me looking every which way for a normal job.  I got an interview for office help in a Podiatrist Office.  I noticed when I came in the office that all the office helpers were 20 something Hispanic girls, with one older White doctor and a lovely Korean lady who interviewed me.  I was told they were looking for someone to blend with the other office help, so since I did not match the other girls, there went that idea.  Why don’t people just list these specifics in the job listing instead of surprising you at the interview?  Maybe it would be considered racist to say hey we don’t want White 30 something women only Hispanic early 20’s.


Photographer Noah Smith

Noah Smith (www.tripleglance.com) had shot my husband’s headshots back in June ‘07 and wanted to shoot mine, but I never got around to it.  I finally stopped procrastinating and called him to get new pictures made.  At the time all that was running on the hotlines was casting directors asking for pictures to be emailed to them of specific categories, like if you had costumes, etc.  I had my husband take some shots of me in bikini/lingerie, which really look exactly the same, seems these days bikinis are skimpier than bra and panties anyway!  Had my new headshots printed up and mailed them out to the Commercial BG agents as well as the soap operas.  I also re-activated my account at LACasting.com and started playing the submission game on there again.  A friend of mine booked a commercial audition through them and I had been hearing positive things about the site again.  I figured with the new pictures I would give them one more try.  And since nothing was going on I took Zyla to Disneyland every week praying for work.  I also dove into a new novelist Ludmila Ulitskaya The Funeral Party.  I loved it so much that I also got Sonechka, which was just as fabulous.


Found another job opportunity and went on an interview to be a receptionist at a Mobile Vet doctor.  I was told that no animals were received at the clinic, since the clinic was really just a storage unit garage type thing with an office and parking spot for this large SUV that the doctor used to make house calls for sick pets.  Since I am highly allergic to dogs and cats that sounded perfect to me.  Unfortunately I get to the interview and everything is going well until they mention “Hey would you have a problem with accompanying the doctor once a week on house calls and being his assistant?  Meaning you might have to help out with 70 lbs. sick dogs, cleaning up all types of blood, urine and feces.”  “Um, what happened to the receptionist position?  Why wasn’t this mentioned in the description of the job???  Of course I have a problem I am allergic!” And why would the doctor take the receptionist to be his assistant?  I am not trained in veterinary skill.  How would you feel if you called up for a Vet to come see your sick animal and he is bringing his receptionist to help out?  The whole thing sounded bizarre.  Their explanation was that it was such a small organization that everyone had to be able to do everyone’s jobs in case someone got sick otherwise the whole business could collapse.  Hmmm I just don’t think I am the girl to keep this business together so I left.


It was about a week after that when the strike ended and I set off to the set of “The Soloist”.  The car call was down on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles.  I woke up early and left for set by 4am.  Call time was 5am and I got there early enough to get breakfast.  I had not realized it was such a large call and about 400 background players were there, mostly everyone playing a homeless person who lives on Skid Row.  The director came in and spoke with us about his vision.  He wanted the movie to be real.  He was from London and had come to film a movie about life in Skid Row, especially life as it was in 2005 before Operation Clean Sweep.  In fact his movie would end with that going into effect.  So he wanted everyone with experience in using/buying Heroin to help him out in making everything look authentic and real.  He did not want anyone to take offense if he asked if they used Heroin or were familiar with how to purchase it since it was all for the art of the movie.  So the handful of Background that were there solely for the use of our dark cars were told to move our cars to the street we would be shooting on.  We hung out there for about an hour and then because of the weather, a slight drizzle, we were told that they were calling a Weather Permit call and we were wrapped for the day.  They held on to maybe one car and sent the rest of the car call people home after 3 hours.  We were paid half day rate plus the use of our cars, never actually setting foot on set in front of cameras.


I got a call from Producer’s Casting which only does Commercial BG work and won’t let you register unless they like the picture you send them and they call you.  They never called me 2 ½ years ago when I sent them a picture, but now with my new pictures they did!  Some people send in pictures for 3 years or more trying to get in with them.  They are supposedly one of the oldest commercial BG casting companies starting up 35 years ago.  I was told to go to the Taft Building on Hollywood and Vine to have my picture taken with their photographer and pay $40.  The photographer’s studio was odd.  When I entered the building and went to the suite it had a different name on the door and no one was there.  I asked around to other people in suites on the floor and they said he would show up by 10am, which was my appointment time.  Supposedly only 5 people had been picked to come to this registration session.  I was 15 minutes early and the only one around.  The photographer showed and started setting up.  He said he had worked for Producer’s Casting for 20 years and that they did things the old-fashioned way using printed pictures to submit for jobs, not the Internet or any online casting services.  Well that sounded weird, I mean how is this company staying afloat in this day an age when things have all gone digital?  Not to mention the money you save not printing up pictures.  And if they were going to print up this picture this guy was taking, why not just take my headshots?  Next I filled out my paper work, a 3x5 card saying my sizes and SAG ID number and went in to take my picture.  He set the lights and then took a test picture to make sure the exposure was good.  Then he started snapping off shots and the light died.  He said the one shot he got of me was good enough and sent me on my way.  I felt the whole thing had been rushed but what do you do.  He told me to call the head of Producer’s Casting in 10 days and check in once a month.  Ten days went by and when I called up no one answered.  I left a message saying I was checking in.


Jury Duty and I am not talking about a movie, came knocking on my door at the beginning of March.  My friend was actually serving on a trial so it coincided nicely to have to cruise downtown LA, meet up with her on our lunch breaks and hope to God I wasn’t picked.  I woke up early and took my first L.A. subway ride, just like NY!  I hate traffic and the one-way streets in downtown, so this was a refreshing break.  I ended up having to go to a potential jury hearing, where 65 of us walked into the courtroom and only 14 were going to stay.  I was picked as juror #7 and the judge and lawyers questioned us.  It was a murder case with a handgun, so I reminisced for the court the time I was held up at gunpoint when I was 17 years old working at a yogurt shop in Hermosa Beach.  Tears streamed down my eyes in my recollection, but they did not dismiss me that day.  We actually ran out of time and had to come again the next day to finish the picking.  The following day our call time was later and unfortunately I had no idea that the parking lot to the Metro Subway near me would be full to capacity.  So since I had nowhere to park, I had to drive downtown.  Unfortunately the directions to the parking structure were on the back of the jury summons that I had turned in the day before so my life felt like it was going into a nightmare.  I called my husband since he had parked in the structure last year when he had jury duty and he quickly got me directions.  I made it with a minute to spare.  It is important to be on time as no one is aloud to go into the courtroom until all the jurors are present.  If you don’t show up the judge starts issuing warrants for your arrest, a few were issued.  We ended up sitting around for an hour because of 3 late people.  Finally we get back into the courtroom and after listening to some more potential jurors statements one of the lawyers dismissed me.  Ah what jubilation, freedom, hooray!  Not that I wouldn’t love to serve, but I am a stay at home mom and Zyla’s Easter break was coming up and what was I suppose to do with her, bring her to a murder trial?  The courts only pay $15 a day so that is not covering a babysitter, barely covers her after care at school.  I think more people would be excited and willing to do jury duty if they would just pay minimum wage.  Everyone else in the courtroom is getting paid top dollar, so why should the jury go into debt to keep the court systems running.  Does not seem fair, but then again, what in life is.


MZA Talent Agency contacted me by email asking if I wanted commercial representation.  Finally some response to being on LACasting!  The email was strict in saying it was only for a specific day and time and could not be changed.  Since they wanted me to interview on the day I had to report for Jury Duty, I emailed back asking if at all possible could I reschedule.  The intern kindly rescheduled me for the following week, but then I landed another gig.  They did not reschedule me again.

Cell Phone Snap Shot @ Raliegh Studios
Jacqueline Nyahay playing Arizona Cop on Medium

“Medium” started up again as most of the TV shows were now that the strike was over and I got on as a cop.  Never playing a cop before I did not realize I would need black lace up oxfords and crew cut t-shirts.  I had planned on just wearing my Harley boots!  Finding out at 8pm the night before I raced out to Target to pick up something for work!  It was a small call, only 6 of us there.  I asked around to see if anyone was with Producer’s Casting.  Two of the guys there were with them, but said that their company was going downhill and they had nothing going on.  Seems they use to have the largest commercial account in the business and lost it about 6 months ago and things had never been the same.  Rumor had it that the photographer would call Producer’s for actor’s numbers that he could shoot to make money for his drug habit.  None of the $40 goes to Producer’s, only to the photographer.  This was sounding like a scam racket if I ever heard of one!  Well live and learn.  I just wish SAG would take them off the list of legit companies if this were all true.  In the meantime I had fun playing a cop, Arizona’s finest with that heavy belt that they had a hard time trying to find in my size.  They kept telling me I was too small for the cop pants and belts, but we made it all work.  It was a really cool episode because Patricia and Rosanna Arquette were on it.  I love them they are so cute together.  Sisterly love on set.  And we were shooting down in Manhattan Beach, my hometown, made me wish my sister could come play on sets with me, maybe someday. 


A few days later, after calling hotlines and submitting online, I finally got a break.  The day started off like any other, woke early, took Zyla to school.  Finished reading A Thrall’s Tale, which coincided nicely with my “BeoWulf” rental.  Oh if life were so simple.  Called into the hotlines every half hour at least.  Then for an hour or so I browsed through the library with Zyla picking up an armload of books.  On the afternoon’s wane, while driving home, I received a text message from LACasting.com about “The Soloist”.  Of course I would submit, I had been submitting for a month on this website without anything coming of it, but hey why not.  It was for Central Casting and I was registered with them.  Why they were using LACasting to receive submissions and not posting these jobs on the hotlines was not clear.  Maybe they didn’t have the high call volume since the strike or were just looking for different faces.  A lot of call-in services were upset about it since this was taking away from their offerings.  Rumor had it Central bought a piece of the stock in LACasting.  It seems that the submission from last week for the Disney Concert Hall attendees for “The Soloist” did not happen and now it was pushed to shoot this week.  When I submitted last week, I ran out and bought a dress for the opera because they only wanted White, Black or Silver/Grey.  I only have Blue so what do you do.  Then I took Zyla on her first subway ride in Los Angeles.  I had received a weekly subway ticket from Jury Duty and had one last day left on it.  “How did the subway compare to NY Zyla?”  No comment, says she doesn’t remember most of the two years she spent there.  How sad.  A few days later and obviously not booked on Soloist, I returned the dress to the store.  Now that the job had been pushed was I going to have to go back to the store and buy the same dress again in the same week?  This was getting insane!  And the casting director wanted new faces and since I had worked that car call, even though I never made it to set, I wondered if that was why I wasn’t getting booked. 


Photographer Joyce Westergaard
Jacqueline Nyahay playing Louise Perry on CSI:NY

A couple blocks from home, I called the hotlines and heard that CSI NY was looking for a blonde 30’s to play a dead person.  Holding the phone to my ear with my shoulder, I grabbed my pen from my purse and wrote the number on my hand. I slowed to a stop at the stop sign and called, setting the phone on speed redial.  I pulled into my garage and started up the stairs with the books in my arms when the phone rings saying the call had gone through, so I drop the books to listen to it ring and ring and finally the phone hangs up after too many rings!  I call back and it is busy again so the phone sets to auto redial and finally get myself and the books in the house and eventually get through and am told my picture will be submitted to production.  Hooray!  I try to submit to as many things a day as I can.  The other day I was on speed redial for over an hour, I know it is insane and when I got through the casting director had booked everything.  But the announcement was still on the hotline, so why not take it off right?  That is just the way this game is played.  When I called the hotline a while later the casting for CSI NY was off, but a call for “My Name Is Earl” was up for 1960’s hippie girls.  I called my girlfriend and we both submitted, hopefully we can work together again.  I got called back a couple hours later by the casting director making sure I really wanted the CSI NY thing and wasn’t going to back out and was available.  I assured him everything was good to go so I booked the part and was told to immediately go to a fitting for contact lens, then over to the studio for a wardrobe fitting.  Finishing grilling up her Salmon for dinner, I flip the fish on her plate, turn off the gas on the grill and sent Zyla over to my neighbor and rush out the door.  Five minutes later the Production Coordinator calls to say that I didn’t need to go to the contact lens fitting, just to the studio.  So I head to the studio and meet him and sign my vouchers.  I am escort to wardrobe where the ladies say they cannot do a fitting because they have to go buy my clothes!  So I got paid to come in and say hi and went home.  They booked my contact lens fitting for the next day and the wardrobe fitting for Monday.  I didn’t mind all the craziness; I was getting paid the same as a Day Player rate minus the residuals.  My character even had a name ‘Louise Perry’, talk about your glorified background!


AFTRA contacted me saying that they had money in a trust fund for me, why or how I did not find out about this before is beyond me, but thank God I found out about it.  They sent me a nice check from residuals back in ‘95/’96!  Unbelievable!  It seems the first AFTRA show I did “California Dreams” was not just a Background job but an Under 5 and I had been receiving residuals from it, but since I never paid to join AFTRA until 2003 the money was sent to this trust fund.  I am glad they did not just take it to pay for my membership like they did when I worked on “Politically Incorrect” in 1998.


Alice Ellis Casting received my new headshots and invited me to their registration.  Another Commercial BG casting company, but this time I felt it was run much more professionally than the Producer’s Casting.  The photography studio was open and a lot of people were there to update photos or register.  The photographer took about 10 shots of me from different angles and I felt good about handing them over $30.  One fellow in the waiting room said he had been with them two years and hadn’t gotten one job.  But he said he didn’t want to burn bridges and was coming to update his photo.  So who knows in this game, but I wanted to register with as many Commercial people as possible, someone has to have work for me!


My fitting for the contact lens for the CSI NY gig went well.  The eye doctor gave me a free exam and this was the same office that fitted the crazy contacts on all the characters of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.  I felt comfortable, considering I have never worn contacts in my life.  She put one on so I could see; it gave the appearance of blood clots in my eye.  She said I might have more done to my official contacts, like the cloudiness you sometimes see in the dead eye, it was up to Production.  She also told me that I would never touch the contacts.  A technician from her office would come to set to put the contacts in on set and remove them when I left set.  She said my vision might be hindered a bit by the cloudiness if they went in that direction, but I should still be able to see to walk ok.  She gave me a Polaroid for posterity! J


By late March, a fresh snowstorm blew in up in the mountains and Edward, Zyla and I all piled in the car to drive an hour north to Mt. Pino.  Zyla refuses to wear pants so in a skirt we didn’t last long in the snow about 45 minutes of kicking snow, making snow angels and throwing snowballs and we were done.  Monday morning my phone rang with the casting director from Central calling about the fitting for CSI NY.  He said it was all a go for that afternoon, but the photo shoot was now pushed for the following day.  I told him I was not available tomorrow unless the shoot would be morning or early afternoon.  I had no one to pick up Zyla from school.  He assured me I would get out in time to pick her up.  Then an hour later he called back to say things were going back to the original plan of doing the fitting and photo shoot on the same day.  Thank God.  Sometimes it feels as if they think you have no life and can change things around at the drop of a hat.  This is only BG work after all, and I only agreed to 3 specific days of availability, not every day this week!


The photo shoot was for a picture on my business cards showing that I was a Real Estate Agent as well as a big billboard advertisement.  It would be the only shot of me in the show that I am alive in.  The fitting went beautifully so many amazing suits from all the top designers.  One thing I don’t understand is why I am a size 6 in one designers clothes and then am a Size 4 or 2 in a different designers clothes.  Why can’t they agree on what measurements mean what size?  Why all the confusion in trying to find clothes.  It seems a bit much.


Two days later I get a call from Central assuming they are calling with my call time.  No surprise, your days have been switched from Wednesday/Tuesday to Thursday/Monday.  Are you kidding me?  Can I call you back?  I wasn’t available for Monday.  Then it’s don’t you have family or friends to help out?  You are getting paid for an extra day because of the holiday (Good Friday/Easter) would that cover a sitter?  But the problem is Zyla’s on Easter break so who do I find to watch her for twelve or so hours?  It’s not like a typical day when she’s at school most of the time.  I broke down, overwhelmed at the audacity that he expected me to say no problem.  What was it with this show and reschedules?  I had never worked on a show with so many reschedules!  I said usually when specific days are mentioned on the hotline those are the days you work.  If I had known it would be like this I would not have submitted to the project.  He finally ended it by asking me to call him to let him know everything would be ok with finding someone for Zyla.  I called my husband and he said he could just take the day off, so it all worked out.  Then the casting director calls back saying there was a mistake and now I am Thursday/Tuesday.  Do I still get the extra money for the holiday?  No.  But those days worked perfect with Ed’s schedule so I did not care.


Thursday, my call time was 1:30pm, but they started calling my cell phone at 8:20am.  Not leaving me any message, I finally answered the call an hour later and was told I needed to get a French manicure, how soon could I be ready?  Now~ I guess, so they made an appointment for 10:30am at a Nail boutique and told me to come straight to the studio after.  Crew Call was for 7:30am, so I was happy I was coming in earlier, maybe I would make some overtime on this higher rate base I was getting.  I showed up to set around 11:30am and the Second AD took me directly to the production office to be reimbursed for the French Manicure.  Make-up immediately wanted to start working on this etched in cut to the back of my neck that the killer I guess coded me with.  Then I was told I would get my own room!  It was one lovely moment after the next, perfect day.  And unlike most sets on studio lots, CSI-NY had their own caterers, so no walk away lunch for us!  I was doing the morgue table scenes so I was Yied & Tied as they put it.  Latex stitches were glued to my chest by the special effects make-up artist and I was airbrushed in a deathly pallor.  Bruising to my hands from pounding on a door I was told.  And then the eye tech showed up and wanted to put the contacts in.  First she put drops in my eyes and told me that she was going to be leaving the contacts in once she had them in my eyes and start putting drops in my eyes every 20 minutes.  Now this is not what I was told by the doctor, so I was thinking what is going on?  Next, she said that these were different from the ones I had tried on and that my vision would be greatly impaired and she would accompany me everywhere from then on.  She started to put the first contact in and I saw that it had the cloudy hazy film over it, along with the blood ruptures.  Her first attempt to get it into my eye did not take and it popped out.  The same thing had happened as the doctors as well, so I was not surprised as I waited for her to try again.  She moistened the contact with fluid again and began lowering it into my eye, when the second AD walks in and tells her she is wrapped and the contacts have been wrapped from the show!  I let out my breath and heaved a huge sigh of relief they were huge contacts!   But it would have been so cool to see them in once, and they were my prescription after all, but no, that was that and I was whisked off to set.  On set the gurney tables were draped in heating blankets.  I laid down on it and we rehearsed the scene.  I was so thankful I was not going to have to try to stare without blinking in those contacts during the 2-3 minute scene.  Lying with my eyes closed was very relaxing on the blanket.  For picture of course they took my blanket away, but the table was still nice and warm.  The onset costumer walked up to me and said she knew me.  I recognized her voice, but her appearance was different.  She said ‘Click’ and I instantly remembered!  Wow I had not seen Joyce since 1996 when we worked together on a number of episodes.  She was so lucky to have a steady gig on prime time, I was so happy for her.  She took some pics for me and printed them up by the time I was wrapping out.  I was so happy I ran into her and was looking forward to seeing her again next week.  Now I had prints of me as a corpse, unlike Law & Order SVU, who promised to give me back my original picture they needed of an “alive shot” of me and get me a copy of the picture of me hanging from the bridge by a noose in Central Park.  The only other ‘dead’ job I have done, but I have no record of. L


The night ended late, I got overtime, meal penalties, make-up bumps and my higher rate base even though I was not wearing the contacts on the show.  We also did not get to my last scene, which was 1/8 page.  Can I come back Monday for it?  Sure why not.  Now I would get that holiday pay I heard about as well.  And Tuesday was still on for the beach scene.  I heard that CSI-NY loved to throw money away and I had no problem accepting as much as they wanted to throw my way!

Easter weekend was beautiful and I felt refreshed coming back to work Monday.  I was surprised I was not listed on the call change box at Central and called to let them know I had been recalled and how to apply for my holiday check.  I got the star treatment again and was led to my own room and wardrobe gave me my robe, flip-flops and undergarments.  In make-up I had the scratches and cuts on the back of my neck applied and was powdered in deathly makeup.  It was not as extreme make up as the day before because now we were shooting a scene that would prelude that one.  I arrived on set and they decided I should not be under the sheet again, but fully dressed like I had just come in from the beach where they find my body.  So wardrobe scrambled at this new idea and went to find my clothes for the beach scene and distress them.  They brought them to me and I carefully put on the dusty, dirty panty hose, black skirt, black blouse and bright red/pink jacket.  Oh ya and distressed heels!  When I got to set, it seemed unlikely I would have kept my shoes through my whole traumatic experience and they were confiscated back to the wardrobe trailer.  I was then hosed down with warm water on my clothing, having just washed up from the beach.  Joyce was patting my clothing down with dirt color make up and then threw towels on me until the last second so I would stop shivering and relax the goose bumped flesh that was rising to the cool air after being soaked.  I took a deep breath and held still while the doctor plied debris out from under my nails.  We pulled the scene off in one take.  That is a wrap for tonight on Jacque.  Good night Jacque.  It was 12pm in the afternoon!  Joyce gave me my flip-flops and towels and said she would see me tomorrow.  After waiting forever for my shower to warm up, I splashed cool water and got off most of the makeup, had lunch and checked out.  When I got home I was telling my husband how blessed I was.  All from one little phone call came over a week of work for this show.  He reminded me of all my hard work and calling like a lunatic to get to this one fabulous job.  Obviously it was all God because these jobs are so rare and I could have been on set the day it played on the hotlines and not been calling in so much.  It would have been so easy to miss it, and yet I kept praying God would guide my step to be in the perfect place at the perfect time and this gift unfolding brought me so much joy.  So I thank God for my job.


My last shoot day, I woke up at 5am and started getting ready to head down to San Pedro to Cabrillo Beach.  I spent a lot of my childhood down there at the museum and was familiar with the terrain.  Traffic was not as bad as I anticipated and I ended up over an hour early for my call time.  Originally I was suppose to be in at 11:30am, but was called by Central to check in at 9am instead.  I stayed warm in my car watching the thick fog slowly dissipate.  I finished reading my book Lucky by Alice Sebold.  Awesome memoir.  I finished two books on this CSI-NY adventure, the other being Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.  That was a great memoir as well.  What is up with all the books on slaves, bondage and victims of abuse?  It was eerie being in character with all these stories in my head.  The special treatment started ebbing on location and I was not given my own room.  I had to change into my dirty, distressed clothes in the tents and then hang out in holding in the “Lunch Box” with all the other background players.  Not that I minded, ran into another girl who had just played a bloody dead body the day before on a movie so we chatted about being living dead girls.  The call sheet got switched around and my scene was pushed to the end of the day, so I mostly sat in holding by myself.  I occasionally ventured outside because the beach and waves drew me, but I tried not to scare the children on field trips to the Marine Aquarium, with my death make-up, bruised hands and scratched up neck and distressed clothes.  My turn finally came and I was brought to set.  I felt like the star sitting in the make-up chair, being given hot chocolate, having final touch ups to my hair and face.  I walked onto the beach and a tarp was laid out for me to lie on.  It was pulled up some from the water and I was told we would shoot the scene of me being dragged up from the water after this.  The hosed me down again and with the wind and elements, it was freezing and I clenched my jaw tight trying not to shake.  Sand was blowing and thankfully the principal actors said I should not do the scene with my eyes open as originally scripted.  When the line was said in comment about my eyes, they were just opened for a second.  Thank God the contacts were cancelled it would have been a nightmare.  We pulled it off in three takes and then they said forget getting drug up from the water, I was wrapped!  Hooray!  The other girl, who was a principal role, playing a similar character to mine (ie. Real Estate Agent, murdered, but also bitten by shark) did not have it so lucky.  She was put in the water and shivered a lot more of the day.  But I found out she was on a stunt contract and so they could demand more of her.  I did not see much of Joyce until good byes since she was busy with the other actress.  Thankfully, production had drove in portable showers, so I finally got a nice hot, shower after all.  Then I was given an extra voucher for my holiday pay.  I left with two hours overtime and a meal penalty and of course, wet bump, make-up bump and mileage bump.  This was the best-paid BG job I had had outside commercial work.


At the end of the week I got a call from Central again.  It seemed that CSI-NY still needed me.  This was the never-ending gig!  What started out as a 2-day call was turning in to a 10-day call!  I was asked my availability for the following week and I said Tuesday, Thursday and Friday were good.  Next CSI-NY called to say they wanted me Thursday but would confirm that on Monday.  So to play it safe since I know how they love to schedule change at the last minute, I did not try to find any other jobs for the following week until I was done with them.  Monday, CSI calls to say for sure Thursday, so I started calling the hotlines.  A few hours later they called and changed it to Tuesday and said I needed to go get the same French manicure again.  No problems are you guys booking it?  They asked me to go and get the receipt and come in Tuesday for a late morning call.  So Tuesday I woke up, took Zyla to school and headed off to get the manicure.  I arrived to set a half hour early and took it upon myself to go to the production office and make sure I was paid for my receipt.  Then I was put into a room again.  Went through the same make-up with the special effects guy, who was doing really precise work since today was all my close-ups with this second unit insertion shots team.  I had not worked with this group before and they were a whole new crew as opposed to the main unit.  Long after our catered lunch I was finally called to set.  It was a sand box set up outside to recreate my beach scene.  They had me put on the distressed clothes again and then soaked me down and tried to figure out all the shots they needed to get.  Unlike main unit there were no on set wardrobe girls standing by with towels, etc to make sure I stayed warm between takes.  Instead I was surrounded by a group of guys in a sand box, freezing from the elements, trying to hold still as they shot the close ups.  And where usually it was one, two takes and we are done, this took hours.  They kept dousing me in water and sprinkling sand all over my face and I was thinking what the hell is going on.  Finally they said I could go shower and thank God I figured out how to work the shower and hot water came out so I could get cleaned up.  Then I went to get the scratch mark temporary tattoo put on my neck for the insert shot of that.  But hours went by and as the day turned into night I wondered what was going on.  I found out from the girl who regularly works as the hand double for the insert shot team that second unit shoots a lot and takes forever.  She said she typically gets 12-14 hour days!  Then I saw they had pushed all the rest of my scenes to the end of the day.  So I was in for the long haul, that is fine with me, love overtime.  I was getting hungry though, but unfortunately this second unit team does not have the craft service that main unit gets and there was hardly anything to eat.  They shot my neck close up and then it was washed off.  I thought I was done, but no, then I find out they are making some hand contraption for me to wear so it will appear my nails are scratching something, but really it will be wires under my fingers, so that my real nails are not hurt.  It was getting so late and this new idea was not finished yet so they said I had to come back again, tomorrow.  I said I am not available tomorrow, how about Thursday or Friday?  That worked for them and I left for the night. 


Central Casting started calling me Wednesday to work on a new AFTRA pilot “Mind of Mencia” saying I was picture picked by the director to play one of the leads wives.  It was working Thursday.  I told them I was booked on CSI-NY but since they changed the schedule all the time I was interested if CSI-NY was going to reschedule.  She told me she would find out.  No, no reschedule this time.  CSI-NY called me with my call time and told me that I should eat before coming to set at noon since they would have a late crew call and lunch wouldn’t be until 3pm and that it would be a walk-a-way.  So much for the caterers who followed the first unit on location that day.  When I showed up to set there were jalapeno poppers and mac ‘n cheese at crafty.  I was given my upstairs room again and relaxed with about 3 hours of down time.  Finished reading Lucky Child by Loung Ung, brilliant memoir of her life after escaping Cambodia at a young age to live in America with her brother and his wife and growing up acclimating to life here and eventually reconnecting with the family she left behind.  Props found me to fit my hand for this Freddie Kruger metal contraption, which was later glued into my palm wired up my fingers to give the impression my fingernails, could scratch sharply into a sticker in a car.  I had been told all this before but when I walked to set the director jumped out of the trunk of the car and asked me if I knew what is suppose to be happening.  “No,” I mentioned that, “I was never given a script, but I believe I am scratching something,” holding up the distorted hand.  He told me to get in the trunk.  I did not know I was being thrown into the trunk of a car today.  I got in and wrapped up in the tarp.  Then they put a sticker on the inside roof of the trunk and shut the lid.  The camera was to my left with the backseats of the car pulled down, shooting in through that way.  The idea was for me to scratch the sticker, which would lead to what was under my fingernails in autopsy, and pound the trunk lid like I am trying to escape. 

That is a wrap on Jacqueline.  Thank you Jacqueline. 

Thank you CSI-NY.  “Like Water for Murder” was set to air April 16, 2008.


Cell Phone Snap Shot @ Calvert Studios
Jacqueline Nyahay playing 70's Party Guest on Swingtown

Now let me get back to living!  I had been calling the hotlines not really needing any work since I was doing the extended 3-week CSI-corpse gig, but was always looking for future projects.  The weather was warming up now that it was April, and my friend called me Friday night at 6:20pm saying that Central was looking for party people for ‘Swingtown’ and I should call in.  She was trying to get on the call as well.  I called in hearing the message had posted at 6:15pm and sat on hold for 40 minutes totally expecting to hear, the call is booked up, or you just worked the last episode, but instead I booked it!  The fitting was on Monday and it was fun going back to the Calvert Studios.  I knew right where to go for wardrobe, hidden behind the façade of a pub on a back street lot.  I expected to see familiar faces everywhere, but was surprised a lot of people had been replaced.  It seemed like a whole new wardrobe department, new AD’s.  I was fitted quickly into a long, clingy, choker type 70’s pattern dress and then headed off to hair & make-up to hear the same shpeal about putting curlers in our hair. 


Thursday and Friday were typical ‘Swingtown’ long day about 14 hours.  The scene was a political activist party for freedom of speech.  My favorite French caterer was not back, but we were still fed well.  Everything went really smooth and I met a lot of really cool people.  One girl drove up from San Diego, it is amazing the distances people will go for background work, especially with gas prices on the rise, I wondered if she was making any money at all.  She mentioned she got a lot of work through the Hollywood OS online casting website, so I decided I should probably register with them and try my luck.


The following week, I was at the hotlines again and booked ‘The Bachelor’ stand-in gig again through Jeff Olan for two weeks in advance.  I wanted work for the following week and as luck would have it Central Casting called me to see if I could wrap up the month of April with a 6-day gig on ‘Studio DC’ playing the Stage Manager.  It was an AFTRA job paying a few dollars less than SAG but I immediately asked for the details and booked it.  Listed as a Promo piece, the gig was actually the Muppets coming out of retirement!  It had been six years since all the Muppets were aloud out of their boxes and back on the TV screen in something new.  Since Disney owned them, they made this whole show with the Muppets interacting with all the hottest talent on the Disney Channel.  So I spent a week with the kids from “Wizards of Waverly Place”, “The Sweet Life of Zack & Cody”, the Cheetah Girls, the Jonas Brothers and some of the kids from “Hannah Montana”, but not Miley herself.  They did have posters up of her and her dad, so we felt their presence, and she did appear once the show aired, singing with the muppets.  I grew up with the Muppets, so it was really awesome to see all the characters come to life again and meet the voices behind the dolls.  One of the puppeteers was telling set stories about working with Jim Henson and his creative visions.  I also heard some great stories from holding of two actors who worked the Boulevard, Hollywood Blvd that is, both as Batman.  It made me want to rent the new release I had noticed ‘Confessions of a Superhero’, someone they both knew and worked along side on the weekends.  Finished the novel The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, awesome, and started a new novelist Ian McEwan’s Atonement.  Was told I could play Scarlett Johannson’s sister, second time I have heard that I look like her.  Overall spending the week on the Muppets was amazing; I enjoyed my part of Stage Manager, trying to keep the Muppets in line and on cue.  I met a lot of really, cool, down to earth people and had a lot of great conversations.  One of the BG who regularly was a Stand-In knew the 1st AD and told us Michael was really cool and liked to help Stand-In’s get lines on movies he directed.  Then we witnessed it happen to the Stand-in who was given a line, playing the role of a P.A. whom Miss Piggy body slammed.  She was very happy.  I was told this promo piece would air on the Disney Channel as a two-hour special.  And I believe Miss Piggy had the most costume/wardrobe changes, always the DIVA!


A major issue I had resolved during downtime on set, was my month and a half wait, for my check from my photo shoot day for CSI-NY.  One of the most important things you can do is make sure your voucher is correct before you leave set.  Unfortunately, mine was not on the day I did my fitting and photo shoot.  I guess with the constant schedule changes as to whether they were to be on separate days or not, somewhere along the way the voucher got back to payroll, and I was only paid a fitting fee (a quarter of your rate), instead of an entire days pay for doing the photo shoot.  It was a nightmare of phone calls back and forth between the payroll company, Central and CSI-NY to get it all straightened out, but thank God and I personally thank Central for sticking with it to make sure I got my money.


About half way through my Muppet gig Tom Walsh of EnteraKtion Entertainment called me up saying he was back in L.A.  I had emailed him the week before about my CSI-NY début, and he had told me he was in China.  I was beyond happy to hear he needed me to voice the leading lady of his new cartoon!  When the networks had not picked up our pilot ‘14 Stories’ that we shot in Florida back in 2002, he canned the blue screen with actors and CGI characters concept to go all animation.  He had four features he was doing and told me he wrote the leading lady role of ‘Missy’ with me in mind and wanted me into his studio immediately for voice over work.  After reading the script I noticed a fun Russian character and mentioned that I did a mean Russian accent as well.  After spending two months in 1997 in the Ukraine playing the lead role on ‘Black Sea 213’ I had really developed a taste for the Russian language.  He told me he would listen to my voices and I might have to do both roles!  Wow!


The Muppets show took up all my time and when that and the stand-in Bachelor gig ‘Women Tell All’ again, which seemed crazier than the last time I worked this, were all over, I finally got the free time to read the script all the way through.  I emailed Tom saying I was in love with the lead ‘Missy’ and excited to record the following week.  I showed up at the studio on the perfect spring day on the first of May after going over the script every night, feeling schizophrenic as I played both Missy and Tatiana against each other in my nightly read-through.  Arriving early, I hung out while Tom held an audition, thankful that I wasn’t going to be put through that.  It’s nice when you are just handed a script and told who you will play, reminded me of the good old days at 10db/Zalman King Company.  It is definitely a confidence booster to be trusted to pull off the role without an audition.  Not that I wasn’t screened before we went to the recording room.  We actually first went into the conference room to read my version of how I was playing Missy and I took feedback and excellent direction from Tom and Jeff on how to give my Southern Accent the right twang for Texas, since that is where the character was from.  And of course this was for a cartoon so everything is very BIG!  Once rehearsing it a few times, we headed over to the recording studio to lay down the lines.  It took about 4 hours and I felt exhausted.  As I exited the studio with Tom, he asked me about the Russian Accent and if I was up for playing ‘Tatiana’.  I told him, he could hear my take on the voice and see what he thought.  He gave me her lines and I started reading.  After getting through 75% of her dialog, he said you’ve got the part, let’s go record it.  So back into the recording studio to record this completely different character ‘Tatiana’.  Can I tell you how much fun it is to play the good girl and the bad girl in the same movie!  The day came to an end with a contract in my hand and my completion of two lead female roles for ‘Dwegons’, the new feature length cartoon coming to theaters in January 2009! 


I am not one for wasting money on something that is not producing for me and after daily submitting to multiple projects for 3 months I again cancelled my subscription to LACasting.  Hollywood OS was three times more expensive than LACasting, so I was only going to give them a month to see if they were going to pay off.  I emailed my agent in Florida who had originally gotten me the audition for ’14 Stories’ and the introduction to Tom and EnteraKtion Studios.  She was more than thrilled at the good news and we both kept our fingers crossed that this time around everything would manifest and the work would be released and I would be blessed with a move up to the next level.


A strange thing started occurring with my AFTRA mail in May.  Everything was addressed to Jacqueline Lovell.  I never authorized this name change and immediately started calling leaving messages, emails, and faxes for them to straighten this out.  The only thing I could think of was maybe the residual department did it when they issued me my long lost checks from “California Dreams” back in February, which were listed under my old name.  I dove into a new author Amy Bloom’s Away and really enjoyed her style.  Bold and nervy, she tells it like it is with historical insight into early 1920’s America and Russian immigration.  Within the week, AFTRA corrected the issue of my name and sent me three copies of my new membership card!


I held off on a lot of work in May because Edward was starring on “The Singing Office” and needed many hours for rehearsals.  Zyla and I drove down with family and friends to attend the taping of his show.  Of course they rocked the house and they went on to the finals.  The following week, we all returned to cheer him on to victory!  It was amazing watching his dream of singing nationally on TV finally come to fruition.  After years of singing lessons and working with different bands, Edward finally got the recognition he deserved and we were all very proud of him and excited to share in the glory of his moment. 


I swallowed The Pact by Jodi Picoult in two days.  Wow, really great, amazing author.  Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger was another great fast read.  “General Hospital” called inviting me to play a wedding guest on the show.  I had mailed them my pictures 3 months ago and was very excited to hear from them.  I mailed them pictures when I first got back to Cally 3 years ago and never heard from them, so I was glad the new pictures paid off.  It had been two years since I had worked a soap and I was thrilled to be back in the loop.  They booked me a week in advance, so when Central called wanting me on “Mind of Mencia” again, I had to tell them I was pre-booked again.  There had been a bizarre call for the show on the hotlines and the sketch comedy seemed like it kept coming up with crazier skits I wasn’t sure I wanted to be part of, I was glad I had a good excuse to turn down the call.  The following week I arrived at the ABC Studios early and got all my paperwork completed, was dressed by wardrobe, met with the casting director and was pleasantly surprised to find out we were shooting two episodes, double pay day!  Synchronicity was flowing through me, the scene I was in was a Persian Wedding Reception Party and a number of people were speaking Farsi.  I was reading The Story of My Life An Afghan Girl On The Other Side Of The Sky by Farah Ahmedi based on her true-life tale.  Her story really inspired me.  The pettiness of problems we complain about here in America compared to the world at large is sickening and I plan to get involved in volunteering my time helping out refugees.  I felt her faith in God in every word, if only I could continually hold on to that trust in Divine Intervention. 


Jeff Olan Casting called me as I was leaving “General Hospital” to find out my availability for “Fence Walker” since I had been picture picked to be in the Orchestra.  I had submitted nearly a month ago for this since I have a bamboo flute I picked up at the Renaissance Faire in Florida.  I booked the two-day call and drove down to Bellflower for the shoot.  Had an awesome time on set, met a lot of really great people, good food, over time and meal penalties, upgraded to double duty doing stand-in on the second day but signed a confidentiality agreement so that is all I can share about that!


I learned my lesson the hard way again and after one month cancelled my Hollywood OS account.  For $40 a month I found it amazing that they could not get me on one set, but then again I never did have any luck with these online casting companies.  I did meet one fellow who said he had paid up front for an entire year and he eventually got a three day gig which paid him back his money, but he said it is really sporadic getting work off their site.


When it rains it pours and June started off with a bang!  All of a sudden I wasn’t calling hotlines and submitting but everyone was calling me for bookings that unfortunately I had to turn down!  I felt bad saying no to Jeff Olan Casting when they called me for a two-day gig on “True Fashion”, and then twice in one week they wanted me on “Private Practice”.  Central called me to work “Middleman”.  But none of it worked with Ed’s schedule.  Thank God that would all be changing shortly because a miracle/blessing came in the form of Ed being offered a full time job teaching Television Production again at an all boys Catholic School.  Finally, Ed would have the same schedule/hours, as Zyla and I would be freed up to work whenever a job came my way, hooray!  God is so good!


The Wild Trees by Richard Preston awoke my desires to climb trees.  The more I read the more I wanted to hop in my car and drive up the coast of California to the Redwoods and join the botanists climbing up these 350+ ft, tallest living things on the planet.  But I am not one to do things unprepared and the danger is very real, so until I am well trained that idea would be put on hold, besides I had to get back to work!  I figured it would be a good idea to submit to a call-in service now that I knew Ed’s schedule would be leveling out in the coming months.  I remembered submitting to Extra Effort back in 1999 and it taking them two months to call me and invite me in.  When you become union, most call- in services are harder to get into because there are not as many union jobs and they want to make sure their clients are working.  Unfortunately at the time, I was planning my wedding and since it took them so long to get back to me, I changed my mind about background work and never thought anything of it.  I probably would have been working everyday all those 18 to look younger roles being I was 24 at the time.  But it is never too late so nearly ten years later, using the Internet, I submitted an email with my pictures seeing if I could get back in with the renamed call-in service of Extras Management.  Back to the hotlines I called in to Jeff Olan and got booked on “Private Practice” and had a wonderful time.  My girlfriend had warned me that last season the food situation was atrocious, but thankfully with the new season, budgets went up and we had an awesome craft service full of a lot of food.  I was even told not to bother with buying anything on our walk away lunch because there would just be more food at crafty when we got back and I was not disappointed.  Our holding was under hot lights right outside the set, on the sound stage, so we had to remain quiet most of the time, so I enjoyed my latest book from my favorite Russian author Ludmila, Medea and Her Children and shared it with a girl on set who was from Serbia as well as the author.  I left set from the Raleigh Studios across the street from Paramount shortly before midnight with 3 hours of overtime.  The last time I had been to these studios was for my screening of “Head of the Family” back in 1996 when I was the leading lady of Full Moon Studios.


School let out for summer and I was busy every day entertaining Zyla with trips to swim lessons and play dates with friends.  Central called to book me on “Life” for a two-day shoot, but yet again, didn’t work with Ed’s schedule.  “The Singing Office” was getting lots of publicity and we were all excited about the start date of Ed’s episode on the show.  The dealership seemed to have turned against him, blaming his newfound stardom on his poor sales, but in reality he was working harder than ever and became a victim of racism on the job.  Enough was enough and collecting his last paycheck, told Galpin he was finished and went to register with Central.  Now we could both work on sets for the rest of the summer until his teaching job started in August.  I read Without a Net Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America by Michelle Kennedy.  Very inspiring.  With the threat of homelessness very real in a lot of our lives right now with the ever increasingly unpredictable economy I was bolstered by her confidence and passion to never give up and living in the present and not stressing over the future.  Trust in God and His divine will knowing that the Universe is conspiring for our good and putting one foot in front of the other to do what you have to do.


I received my AAA members magazine “Westward” for June and an article about The Wild Trees and where I could go in Oregon, untrained to climb a 350 ft tree and spend the night up in the canopy felt like divine intervention.  Now I just have to plan a trip and I can fulfill my dream, but first back to work.  Central announced on the hotlines that “90210” was back and they were looking for 20 somethings for a Peach Pitt club scene.  Wow, blast to the past or what.  This was one of my favorite shows when I was in high school.  I called in and got booked to party as one of Matthew’s friends.  What did that mean?  Driving over to Hollywood and sitting on a couch in the club playing one of the older kids, as the show is primarily made up of 18 to look younger.  Though this club serves alcohol so technically everyone was suppose to look at least 21, but since I am in my 30’s I felt like the oldest girl in the bar.  I guess I can’t feel too bad; one girl a few years older than me wasn’t even invited to set until the last scene.  I had my back to camera the entire time sitting on a sofa and did not suffer as bad as the dancers through the endless takes.  Word on the set was not very positive about this remake, I mean without Spelling behind it what hope is there? J


Before arriving to “90210’s” set I had listened to the hotlines and submitted for a Kurt Cobain funeral scene on “Californication” and waited all day to see if I got it.  By late afternoon I was having my doubts and then heard another message on the hotline to work the same show the following week, so I called in and booked it.  The call time was pushed two hours, so it was early afternoon when I drove down to Culver City to play a nurse on David Duchovny’s hit Showtime series “Californication”.  I brought Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult to finish.  Unfortunately that was not enough.  I sat in holding until the martini shot of the night, translation about 12 hours before heading to set.  Needless to say I finished the beautiful Amish story as well as devouring a discarded newspaper.  Holding was right off set, on the sound stage.  I knew David was the executive producer, but didn’t know he was also the star of the show.  He kept walking in and out past us between set up’s, his dog Bleu usually trailing him.  I called my husband on a break, he thought I should say hi to David and remind him of how he got his start from Zalman King on his longest running series on Showtime “Red Shoe Diaries”.  David does begin and end every episode of “Red Shoes” including the handful I starred in, but I had never officially met him.  I decided not to risk being thrown off set by speaking to a principal actor, even if we had been principals on a the same show in the past.  By the end of the night what started as ten background players, dwindled to two and late night quesadilla’s were being offered.  Bleu came over to beg for my food, then lay down at my feet and refused to leave until David finished the scene and came out, clapped his hands once and the dog fell back into step behind him.  The big news on set was AFTRA voted yes on the contract negotiations, thank God because I did not need another strike!


I was feeling impatient about the email I had sent Extras Management and thought I would mail them in my submission like the good old days.  I sent my current headshots along with a print out I made of my cell phone shots of me on set in different wardrobe looks.  That did the trick because they called me in under two weeks to invite me to register!  I was so excited since everyone I run into on set that is with them says they work steady with them, even through the last writer’s strike, and get commercials!  They called me right before I was getting on a plane to visit my family in Iowa so I promised when I returned I would come in to see them.


Iowa was awesome!  Family reunions and trips into the countryside made up the week.  We visited The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend (www.westbendgrotto.com) and Ed filmed and edited a 10-minute short out of it.  I love gemstones and crystals and was in heaven surrounded by all the sparkling beauty, pressing my hands against the energy held in massive rose and crystal quartz, squeezing my body against jeweled caves.  I only wish I could have worn the wardrobe Zyla and I picked out for our day at the shrine but unfortunately Continental Airlines, whom I will never book through again, did not get our luggage on the connection flight we literally had to run through the George W. Bush Airport in Texas to make.  Breathless as we made our way on the plane, doors being shut behind us, we took our seats, only to arrive in Des Moines, during a thunderstorm and be rerouted to Omaha.  After an hour on the ground to gas up, we attempted Des Moines again and landed, only to discover our luggage had not made it.  My mom kindly washed our airplane clothes so we could trapes around in them again the following day at the shrine.  A few days later we took a scenic train ride through the countryside of Iowa.  The land is spacious and alive with growth, mostly cornfields.  On the train we saw a lot of diversity in the land, such as deep ravines, rivers, and forests.  It was a family reunion of sorts with my sister and her son as well as my cousins who live in Iowa.  We talked about how much fun it would be if there were a theme ride at Halloween time and they turned the Boone Railroad into The Haunted Spooky Rails.  Ed took our footage from the trip and made a 10-minute short, spicing it up with a little Alfred Hitchcock to give it the flavor we were after.  A good time was had by all. 


The day after celebrating my 9th wedding anniversary, I put together a number of different outfits and went in to register with XM (Extras Management).  They submit to multiple background agencies and told us we need not be registered with them for XM to get us work on their projects.  Ironically after 3 years of being registered with Sande Alessi, I finally got booked on one of their sets through XM.  My girlfriend had worked “Damn Love” aka “Kambakkht Ishq” twice in July and gave me the low down on the set.  She highly recommended I bring a chair saying they were notorious for not providing seating.  Seems ridiculous for a SAG set but ended up being true.  We were shooting on location on Rodeo Drive, montage sequences of the two leads on this new Bollywood Hollywood Production.  I woke up at 4am on the first day of August to drive down to a very chilly, overcast Beverly Hills.  At 7am we were shuttled to set and our holding was one of the empty outdoor patio restaurants.  By 10 am the stores were open and we were kicked out to the sidewalk and benches and I was not permitted to open or use my set chair, instead everyone was sitting out of the sun on the sidewalk.  In the shot I was playing a passerby who notices the so-called famous Bollywood couple, celebrating their engagement.  I’ve seen Bollywood films and usually the stars are both Indian, so I was surprised when I noticed the lead actress with thick full blond hair, but figured she had just colored it.  When I finally caught a side glimpse of her face, she was very light skinned and I wondered if she was a mix, half Indian, maybe half something else.  When she eventually walked past me I thought she sort of looked like Denise Richards except for the boobs, which looked natural and small.  Then a Production Assistant came up to me asking me to sign a release to appear in Denise Richard’s reality show “Denise Richards: It’s Complicated”.  So it was her, I asked some actors, does anyone know what happen to her boob job?  I remember auditioning for “Wild Things” and was upset when I did not get it and Denise did, but figured it had to do with her boob job and the contrast between her and Neve Campbell.  I considered Neve and I to have similar body types and would have loved to do that movie with her.  Denise’s reality show was on our set to film some footage for her show and I was not interested in appearing on her reality show considering it is non-union and I wasn’t getting paid anything more for it, so I did not sign the release and was told I would be blurred out which was fine by me.  I was surprised so many SAG actors were signing the release considering rule number one of SAG.  It started getting insane on Rodeo Drive once the tourists started showing up and real paparazzi wanting shots of Denise.  At one point I was sitting on a bench with a few other background actors and some Asian tourist were taking multiple pictures of us.  The 1st AD finally got the shuttle bus to pick us up.  Back at base camp over at the Beverly Hilton Hotel we signed out making it a nice short 6-hour gig.


A few days before going to set, Edward’s episode of “The Singing Office” aired.  We gathered at his sister’s house to watch him steal the show and congratulate him on winning his first round.  The editing was catered to his quirks and the episode really showed a lot of Ed’s personality and creative energy.  We felt like the show centered on spotlighting Ed or interviewing other people who were talking about him.  Ed received a lot of positive feedback and everyone was excited to see the grand finale at the end of August.  He clipped a 10 minute short together of his best moments and posted it to his youtube account as well as linking it to our website.


Edward, Zyla and I attended our first family audition for a Toyota commercial over at Sande Alessi Casting.  I had seen a posting for it on extrasaccess.com but did not submit since I do not have a current family photo, but when my friend heard it on Sande’s hotline and they seemed desperate in finding the right family, I emailed them individual shots of us and we were invited to the audition the following day.  Zyla chose not to go into the audition room with us and hung in the waiting room drawing pictures.  Robin was running the session and taped our audition.  She remembered booking me through XM on “Damn Love” the previous week and I mentioned how I had registered with Sande Alessi and never got work from their hotlines for the past three years.  She said she was going to look up my file and get me on more of their sets. 


Summer vacation started winding down and heating up in the Valley.  While I was taking my afternoon nap, Ed shot footage of Zyla talking about all her favorite topics and created a youtube account for her.  She was excited!  Jeff Olan Casting called late one evening frantically looking for a stand-in and I booked the gig.  I ended up going back to “Private Practice” to stand-in for Karen Strassman who was doing a day player role as the Anesthesiologist.  Then I switched over to be a floor nurse in the hospital scenes.  The props master got a kick out of handing me a urine sample to carry around that was labeled sperm.  ‘Rory’s daddy’ from Gilmore Girls, actor David Sutcliffe, was doing a special guest appearance on the show and strolled past me with his family and friends to watch us do the big hospital lobby scene.  Sigh, oh how I miss the Gilmores!  The only thing that I was disappointed about was the food.  There were two units shooting that day and we were not on the main stage, so they did not feed us as well.  It did not help either when a bunch of the BG were talking about the new Tom Hanks movie they had just worked on “Angels and Demons” with their $200 mil budget where they ate steak, lobster and pounds of caviar!  Walk-away lunch at Raleigh Studios Hollywood sucks since there is only one restaurant and it is very expensive, not cafeteria style.  But the director was rushing to get everything done faster, even to the point of having Jeff Olan call all the BG with a 6:30pm call time to come in 2 ½ hours earlier to get the shot done.  Some of them were pissed and some did not make it.  I have never been on a set where they change the call time that much, but it all worked out because I was out of there in under 7 hours.  SAG was suppose to announce whether we were officially on strike or not, but no news circulated so we assumed we would just keep working.


Extras Management (XM) started calling like crazy with gigs from casting agents I had never registered with, so it was all paying of.  First I was called at 9pm at night to show up the next day on “Our First Christmas”, the new Hallmark movie that Prime Casting was handling.  I drove out to Simi Valley to shoot at St. Peter Claver Parish, beautiful church, had a quick easy day, enjoying the company of old time Hollywood actors.  The day ended early with two wonderful meals. 

Cell Phone Snap Shot @ Santa Clarita Studios
Jacqueline Nyahay having dinner on set of Big Love

5pm I received another call from XM to work the following day on “Big Love” for Debbie Waisman Casting.  Wardrobe was to be nice, attractive, no spaghetti straps, but when I showed up on set it was even more conservative than anyone had wardrobe for.  Even though the scene was summer in a nice restaurant in Utah, we all had to have long sleeves, blouses up to our necks and long skirts with close-toed shoes.  This rare day ended in 5 hours and I left Santa Clarita and was home in time for lunch.  The week had been going so well I was surprised when XM did not come through for me on Friday.  My friend called me up to let me know Central had posted a “90210” gig I was perfect for.  Usually I would then immediately call up Central to book the gig, but going by XM’s rule, called them first and asked them to submit me to the role.  Knowing how quickly these things book up, when I didn’t hear back from XM, I realized I did not get the job.  My friend told me, the same scenario happened to her with her call in service since most things put on the hotline book quickly to talent calling in directly and by the time the casting director checks their messages from call in services they are done casting.  Now I felt XM cost me a job.  The week turned around though when my agent from Florida who moved to her second office in North Carolina called with an audition for a recurring role on “Army Wives”.  She emailed me the sides and told me to email back a Quicktime video of my audition.  Ed did not have a last period class to teach, so I showed up at his school and had him film and run the lines with me into his three chip camera.  We then drove home the footage and uploaded it to his laptop and emailed the audition file over to the casting director.  With finger’s crossed; I then received a call from XM for a job to hold a 7 month old baby on an airplane scene for “Overboard”.  That was interesting.  Of course I had experience having taken Zyla on countless airplane rides both as a lap child (under 2) and above.  What surprised me, or I should say what I could never do, would be to show up on set with my baby and then just hand them over to a complete stranger and be led off stage somewhere.  But the mommy insisted she did not want to be on camera and so I was hired to play the mommy and whisked her adorable baby girl to set.  The director told me to try to quiet the baby and pretend she was screaming hysterically.  In reality she was the best little one ever and didn’t make a peep.  The shot was from the back of her head so no one would be the wiser that she was being so good and of course they will just have to add in those screaming sound effects later!  And babies have different time schedules on set, only 4 hours, but she had a twin who was on his way.  But they got the shot with her and baby was wrapped.  Everyone kept forgetting I was not the real mommy and after a half hour went by I inquired as to when I would be wrapped.  They did not want to use me without the baby, so they signed me out and said good-bye.  I managed to finish reading Recollections of My Life as a Woman ‘The New York Years’ by Diane di Prima.  This was by far my favorite autobio of the year.  I had been waiting to read it forever but all the libraries around me had lost their copies and I finally found it in Beverly Hills.  All I can say is I love this woman and hope she continues her story with the other coast and wrights her California memoirs!

September became a whirlwind of gigs, half through XM, half through Jeff Olan and a couple I heard on the hotlines and called in for myself as well as having XM submit me.  I was excited when I booked ‘Medium’ again as a cop since I had bought the Oxford shoes for the show months ago and had not worked as a cop since.  We shot on location in an adorable little neighborhood east of LAX, at a house, which of course was a crime scene.  I stood sentry at the front door and handed Patricia Arquette her latex gloves and booties before she enters the crime scene.  David Cubitt starts the scene chatting with me before turning to meet up with Arquette as she walks up to the house.  Between takes he asked if I was a real cop, I guess sometimes they get the real deal on the show, not this time David.  The next day I was on ‘Valentine’ for an early morning call in downtown LA to shoot a coffee bar scene.  I had brought Schapelle Corby My Story and was asked to bring it to set to read at my coffee table.  Everyone had heard of the Australian locked up in Bali on drug charges.  Her story was riveting and even brought the Producer to my table.  It is a sad, unfortunate circumstance that seems beyond anyone’s control as the Indonesian government does not seem to be as up to speed with court order and forensic testing as is more common to us.  I keep her in my prayers.   The following day I found myself on ‘Private Practice’ doing stand-in for KaDee Strickland at the LA Design Center.  Sort of a sketchy neighborhood, but I hear it is where they shot the pilot of the show and once inside the sets are beautiful, though the outside looks like a rough, worn down brick warehouse.  I was taller than KaDee, but she was in heels and I in flats so it all worked out beautifully.  It was fun to work with the regular stand-in’s again; they made me feel comfortable and in the know.  Four days in a row, was this happening? 

Cell Phone Snap Shot @ Downey Studiios
Jacqueline Nyahay playing London tourist on The Day the Earth Stood Still

Yes, I worked again the following day on ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’.  Seems they were having reshoots of a scene in London.  The new Keanu Reeves movie had been shown to Fox Studios and they were not happy and gave reshoots over to a crew who had not worked on the original in Canada and who did not have the script.  That was fun.  So I showed up at the Downey Sound Stages in the wee morning hours to shoot an outdoor London traffic jam scene a la green screen magic and then we were told we would be wrapped.  Then at the last minute they chose all the tall people, myself included to be Hazmat Scientists in full silver body suits, with boots, masks and gloves for some later scene.  After sitting in that outfit for 3 hours they changed their minds and sent us all home.  One of the background had looked a lot like Keanu and they decided to dress him up to be a photo double and shoot a bunch of shots of him driving.  We did not ask questions, just collected our vouchers and left.

Cell Phone Snap Shot @ Quiote Studios
Jacqueline Nyahay playing an Atlanta Cop on Criminal Minds

I was exhausted by the time the weekend rolled around, but happy for all the work.  I prayed the next week would be just as exciting.  On Friday I heard a call on Central’s Hotline for ‘Criminal Minds’ possible 3-day gig for the following week for Atlanta Cops.  I immediately called in myself, and then called XM to submit me as well.  I booked it.  The following week I worked at Quiote Studios, which I had always seen from the 5 freeway but never knew it was sound stages.  I was glad the cop shoes I had bought were finally paying off.  They shot really fast and we only had overtime on the last day.  It was a small call and everyone got along well working the bullpen of the Atlanta City Precinct.  As I was leaving set the last day I got a call from XM for my middle name.  They said I had been booked on ‘The Office’ for Monday but it was shooting at LAX and everyone had to have criminal background screenings before we could be OK’d for the shoot.  I asked them to submit me for ‘Surviving Suburbia’ which my friend had called to tell me was on the hotlines for tomorrow.  By the time I had gotten the message and called in it was busy and I guess too late for XM to get me on either.  But I was learning the game and working a lot more than before. 

Cell Phone Snap Shot @ Van Nuys Studios
Jacqueline Nyahay playing Gate Agent on The Office

XM called back at the end of the week to let me know I had passed the screening and was booked as a Gate Agent with a 4:15am call time for Monday.  We were playing in LAX but pretended we were in Canada, wintertime 20-30 degrees out and everyone wearing heavy winter coats, glove and scarves.  I started drinking around 2pm after returning home from church.  Zyla couldn’t believe I would be going to bed before she did.  But I did, passing out around 6:30pm.  Before the alarm sounded I woke up at 2am and started getting ready to go.  I just told myself it was more like 5am, so it would not feel weird to start brewing coffee and eating a light breakfast.  I set out for set at 3:30am, the streets were somewhat empty and the freeways were eerily deserted.  Exiting off the 118, I pulled up to a church in San Fernando, just outside Mission Hills and found no crew.  Everyone was given the wrong address and as more and more background actors showed up and no shuttle van came to take us to the airport, some took initiative and started calling into Central and XM to find out what was going on.  The electronic gates to the church were closed and some guys went over to see if they just slid open and they did.  Then a girl drove into the church lot and the handyman of the church came out wondering what was going on.  He had been told actors would be showing up in the afternoon.  Finally one guy got word that we all were at the wrong location and we had to drive to a church in Panorama City, so an hour late for our call time we head to the next church and find the shuttle van.  We were taken to “The Office” sound stages close by and wardrobe checked us out and gave me my gate attendant suit.  I managed to barely grab some breakfast when we were sent back on the shuttle van to head out to LAX.  Terminal 2 was not too crowded when we filed off the van after being stopped by the cop asking whom we were picking up.  “No one, we’re with the movie,” our driver said.  We were given badges saying we were crew on “The Office” and then went through the whole security screening as usual at LAX, take off your shoes, jackets, etc. then met up at the first gate and created our holding.  Everyone working on the show was really nice and they did not blame us for the late start because of the misinformation given by Central.  Unfortunately because of Central’s mistake “The Office” would not be paying any mileage since we were not suppose to go to that first church.  We were told to take it up with Central.  I did not really mind much since the late start meant we ended up with 4 meal penalties and some overtime.  Air Canada gave permission of the use of a back corner gate until 10am so we shot a scene of passenger’s getting on the flight, lined up, handing in their ticket for scanning and moving on down the ramp to the plane.  Steve Carrell’s character is on his cell phone, pacing and upset while the line moves on without him.  He hangs up, pulls himself together and makes his way over to hand me his ticket, which I scan and return to him.  Cut.  Back to one.  We did the scene about 10 times, clock struck 10am and we were out.  A group of paparazzi were all over the cast and signs had been posted in our corner of the airport saying if you walk near you might end up in the shot and give your consent.  So people would just walk into the scene hoping to get on the show.  It started getting really crowded and crazy so I was glad we were done.  Hopped back on the shuttle, back to base camp and ate lunch before wrapping at 1pm.  Nice day.


Then as quick as the work had come, I had nothing for 2 weeks.  Reading some Picoult and hiking through the woods got me through until the call to work “Big Love” again as a mom w/car then neighbor.  Location was 20 miles off the freeway out in the middle of nowhere with streets named Shady Lane and Good Enough.  I pulled into crew parking under a canopy of stars.  Orion blazed down and the stars seemed closer somehow, pulsating energy drawing the earth closer to them.  I grabbed some breakfast and stood in the chilled early morn until the holding ‘Lunchbox’ was assembled and secured.  We collected our vouchers as the suns rays reached up from behind the mountains, casting a purple-orange glow.  All eyes were drawn to the awakening of dawn, especially the children.  Those booked with cars followed each other in a caravan after the shuttle over to the set.  I played a mom with two other women, hanging out at the playground, watching the kids play and chatting.  The children were really great, the weather was beautiful and warming up as the sun climbed higher.  We finished that shot and went back to base camp.  The kids had to do 2 hours of schooling, while I went to the neighborhood set.  I enjoyed hanging out in the neighborhood watching the every day happenings of that block, while a Television crew comes in and takes over, for the day, shooting exterior confrontational scenes in the street.  At lunch a woman walked out of her house in her bathrobe and flip-flops to walk down the block to the community mailbox.  An eagle soared overhead in lazy circles.  Cats wandered out and about and dogs would bark behind fences.  Lunch was amazing I love their caterer.  Then it was back to set.  The costume designer came over and asked why we had not changed out of the morning wardrobe look in the park, to being neighbors now.  We were told not to bother and just get to set.  The higher ups did not care and felt that the scene was a different day so it did not matter.  It mattered to him but he let it go.  The day ended early evening and I found myself back on the road again, heading out of Ventura County back to reality.


When it rains it pours.  On the Friday I got the call from XM to work ‘Big Love’ for the following Monday, I also got a call from Jeff Olan to stand-in on ‘Bachelor’ again.  He booked me over a week in advance and this time I would be working at the house where the girls go to live.  The evening before they arrive camera crews are pulling in and setting up lighting for the start of the new season.  I arrived at crew parking under a partial moon and sky full of stars.  Out in Malibu Canyon Country the streetlights were few and you could really see a lot of the evening sky, giving me pause for a falling star. Awesome.  Shuttled to the house, amazing in it’s own right, I signed the same confidentiality papers and went to work.  Easy gig as per usual and the night call didn’t last past 1:30am, sweet.


XM called later that week, day of in the morning, to ask if I would be willing to go to a night call in a few hours.  Since they are supposed to call me the night before a shoot, I guess it was my option to take the job without fear of punishment from the call-in service.  Of course I said yes to the possible two-day call and was given the number for details to the latest Hallmark Channel movie “Wishing Well”.  My call time was 6pm out in Santa Clarita, only 30 minutes away but at that hour I would give myself an hour and a half because of traffic.  Everyone was playing town folk at this 4th of July celebration in small town, Illinois.  The voice of one of the principals struck me as very familiar, when it dawned on me that Sally Kellerman was in front of me.  I hadn’t seen her since ‘Radio Silence’ aka ‘Women of the Night’, back in my Zalman King days.  She’d had a scene with my husband, though I did not work with her personally on that film that we both starred in.  I called Ed on my cell phone to tell him.  He said I should go say hi to her and remind her of the movie and scene she did with him.  I thought it would be a bit awkward, not only because BG aren’t really suppose to go up to Principals, even though we had both been principals on a movie over 10 years in our past, but might it seem a little inappropriate to bring up Zalman King on a Hallmark set?  It was such a wholesome feeling on set, with children running around, I didn’t have it in me to change the atmosphere or possibly risk upsetting Sally and being thrown off set.  So I left it as is and had a wonderful evening and was invited back for the following night.  The neighborhood we were shooting in had a curfew for productions and we had to be done by midnight, but it never went that late either night, my kind of night calls!


A lot of talk on set lately wound around the upcoming presidential election as well as what SAG was doing in regards to a strike or settlement of our contract negotiations.  My agent, Sharon, emailed me with news of a documentary being done on “Scream Queens” and a request for me to do an interview for it.  I turned it down, as I wanted only to focus on mainstream.  Besides how many movies did I scream in anyway?  Not to mention I did those movies over a decade ago, and I have nothing left to say about them.   


Three weeks went by with no work.  You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen was a beautiful debut novel I finished, as well as, the memoir Manic by Terri Cheney.  Halloween proved to fill up Zyla’s youtube account nicely.  Though most of her videos were shot and edited by her daddy, I put my talents to use and produced a few myself.  XM finally called with one day on “The Unit”.  The same casting director, who had given me the “CSI-NY” dead girl gig, hooked me up again.  The shoot was at a local biker bar here in Burbank, and I found it funny that I had to park my car at the Burbank Airport’s offsite parking lot to be shuttled to holding at my local Ralphs grocery store’s parking lot.  If I had known I could have just skipped that step and walked over.  We had breakfast, and then were shuttled to the bar.  In under 7 hours we were done with one meal penalty and 50 miles added to the voucher.  Sweet. 


And then two more weeks went by again.  Where did the work go?  This was insane, only two gigs in November?  But word around was everyone was feeling it.  SAG still had not decided if we were striking.  XM called with a gig on the Hallmark movie “Flower Girl”, playing a townsperson.  Beautiful day out in Moorpark, once I woke up completely from the 6am call time.  Sipped on some pineapple juice and watched the sun come up.  It went from freezing to bearable to tank tops, and we shot multiple days, but had no wardrobe changes.  We were told to wear layers and then preceded throughout the day to remove them.  Hour of overtime and I was out.


Central called with a gig on “Worst Week”.  I booked out with XM, since it was easier for me to connect directly with the casting director.  Then Jeff Olan Casting called with Stand-In/BG work on “Private Practice”.  December was starting off very well!  Thank God!


When it rains it pours.  The week began with “Private Practice” where I was doing reception in the scene and stand-in later in the day.  We were shooting on location near Slauson and Western, fun part of town, but at least we get catering, yum!  Things went smooth and I was asked back for a recall.  Unfortunately I had to say no, since I couldn’t possibly screw over Central who had booked me the next day, so I had to say not available.  Oh well, not like it really was a matching shot or anything that they couldn’t easily replace me with someone else.  I just hate saying no to Jeff Olan, since the gigs are few and far between.  The next morning, “Worst Week” was an awesome, easy gig at the Paramount lot.  I played the friend of a pregnant girl, who came with her to a Lamaze class.  Fun scene, and Kyle Bornheimer is a very funny actor, reminding me of Kelsey Grammer humor.  I hope the show takes off and does well.  Only negative for me, walk-away lunch.  I never have cash on me, so I ended up hanging in holding on Stage 18 and running into a BG actor I had worked with on the Hallmark show.  It seems like a small world, but I hardly ever run into the same people twice!  She was shooting another evening Lamaze scene with a pregnant belly sized on her.  At least the show likes to keep you under 8 hours and they did have a decent craft service so no one starved! J

And of course I got a call from XM saying I was booked on “Funny People” for the following day to be a comedy club goer.  I get spoiled on so many small call sets, and forgot what a 250 person call was like.  We were shooting at the Improv on Melrose Avenue, but our holding was in the back under tents.  We were freezing and the weather looked like rain.  We sat around for hours.  I couldn’t even get into the book I brought there were just so many interesting faces to watch.  I eventually got into the scene and sat at the table next to Adam Sandler.  We watched some comedy, then I was told I was done and to hang out back in holding.  It was evening by then and too cold to go back outside, so I waited in the front of the Improv and hung with the stand-ins.  Adam and his entourage of comedians, including Kevin James, came in and sat down next to me.  I hadn’t seen Kevin since my New York days, working stand-in on “Hitch”.  I overheard their conversations about the film; budget, where they would be shooting next.  Then a P.A. came over to tell me I had to move since wardrobe wanted to change Adam’s clothes.  As they were leaving Adam said hi, so he stays cool in my book.


Then as quick as the work came, it all disappeared.  XM called at the end of December, with the token second day of work for the month, which guaranteed I would have to pay them the full $75/month fee.  If they only got me one gig a month it would be half price.  But what was up with barely any work going around?  Totally sucked.  And “The Singing Office” was still screwing around Ed with the winning money.  Every month they promised it would come and then NOT.  In December it had been over 90 days since the last episode had aired and they promised it weekly.  By the end of the month Galpin’s lawyers were involved into putting together a lawsuit against TLC for delayment of payment.  That got the ball rolling with a quick phone call from the head of TLC apologizing and messengering over the check two days before Happy New Year.  I was awaiting my cartoon’s release, but it must have been pushed because there was no advertising for it to be released in January and no one was answering my emails in China on when a new release date was set.   Days before Christmas, XM got me back on “Worst Week” on their last day of shooting, everyone hoping the show got picked up again in ’09.  I played an office employee at the Cap Weekly Office.  The casting director from Central showed up and I introduced myself and he gave me his card and told me to call him.  Maybe I can get more regular work on his projects.  It was a record day for BG and we were out in 4 hours. 


And that is how the year wound down.  SAG still had not negotiated our contracts that had expired back in June, we were still working for old salaries, and we were being urged to vote to Strike for ’09.  I stayed in town for Christmas and had a relaxing, quiet time.  Received my copy of “Dead Country” that I had shot last year for the Aussies and got my old friend Venesa Talor, whom I starred with in the campy sci-fi film from Surrender Cinema “Femalien”, into the loop for the sequel.  As New Year’s Eve came to an end, I said prayers for a healthy, happy, productive 2009.


THAT’S A RAP ON 2008! 









LA Atmosphere ~ Livin the Dream 2009 CLICK HERE to continue reading!