By Mike Kinnerk ‘20
On a stressful October evening, I frantically did my final preparation for a college interview I had with Georgetown University later that evening. In a matter of two hours, my life would turn upside down.
As I walked out the door to go to the interview, I received an email from the casting director of the hit TV show “Chicago PD.” The email informed me that I had booked a job on the show as an extra and would film the scene the next morning. With this email, on an already tumultuous day, came a lot of anxiety, nervousness, and sheer excitement.
The next morning, I woke up extra early to make the trek to Humboldt Park. It was a very gloomy, chilly, and rainy day. After signing in, filling out paperwork, having my costume approved, and two hours of waiting, we finally were transported to the set. The show prohibits me from revealing any details or spoilers so the only thing I can disclose is that we filmed at the Humboldt Park Boathouse. Once we reached the boathouse, we waited in a holding room for about an hour. The extra monitors needed to confirm that the crew was ready for us to come on set.
Once we were bussed to the set, the assistant director talked to all of us about the scene and our duties. Since I was booked as a “Park Teen”, I was paired up with another girl and for the next five hours, we would walk back and forth, chatting and performing the scene.
As we began filming, I had an out-of-body experience. I could not believe that I was filming a scene for an episode of a primetime TV show. After our first filming rehearsal, the crew passed out chicken wraps. My scene partner and I chit chatted and started eating our wraps when the director yelled, “ROLLING!” and followed that with, “ACTION!”
After he yelled that, I began to freak out. What would I do with my chicken wrap? I put the wrap in my jacket pocket and then the director yelled, “BACKGROUND!” and I went out on set and filmed this take with half of a chicken wrap in my pocket (be sure to look out for that if you watch the episode!).
It was extremely cold outside when we were filming. The crew scattered all around the set so we could warm ourselves up in between takes. At one point, I stood with Laroyce Hawkins, who plays Detective Atwater on the show; it was such a surreal experience to be standing with these actors.
When the crew did not need the extras, they kept us in a room adjacent to the filming site. While waiting to be called out, Patrick Flueger, the actor who plays Detective Ruzek, came up to me and told me how he thought that I was an amazing actor and how he was compelled to watch me during the scene because of the realistic interactions I had with my scene partner. Throughout my theatrical career, I have faced a lot of rejection, as expected, and getting this validation from a successful TV actor felt really great.
After we finished filming, we were bussed back to the holding room around 5 p.m. and we were given lunch. The food that they supplied us was very, very tasty and they had a large variety of different foods to eat.
After eating some pasta and fried rice, I was signed out by my monitor and drove home with my dad. I kept thinking about how this was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I have ever had. I got to live out one of my biggest dreams and got paid while doing it! I could not help but smile from ear to ear on that whole car ride home. I am so grateful to have had this experience and I hope to take part in it again. Make sure to watch season 7 episode 9 of Chicago PD in November! You might see a familiar face.