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Student by Day, Actor by Night

Sophia Henry | A&E Editor


On Oct. 11, 2021, I got the opportunity to interview Eastern student Kayla McLean who while juggling graduate school, a part time job and student teaching, also finds the time to work on her acting career. We got to discuss what’s its like to be on set and much more.

So, you were a background actor in a movie. What was it called?

“It’s either going to be called Christmas in Harlem, or Holiday in Harlem. It’s still in the post-production stage, so the title isn’t finalized yet.”

Where was the movie filmed?

`“We filmed in downtown Hartford, at a few different locations. They had fake snow, Christmas decorations, and things like that. It all looked so realistic, like it was actually winter in Harlem.”

What was it like on set ?

“It was SO much fun. I’d heard some stories about background actors experiencing poor treatment, so I didn’t know what to expect going in, but the staff was so friendly, and accommodating to us, and the other background actors were so nice too; I made a lot of friends on set.”

We’re you ever nervous or felt scared you were going to mess up? Even as a background actor, being on camera still sounds nerve wracking to me.

Oh my god, yes I was so nervous at first! My first scene I did, I had to fake rummage through a bag, I was so nervous that I dropped the bag. Luckily the director didn’t notice, but I was terrified I’d mess up the scene or something

What did you do in the scenes?

“They had us doing a lot of different stuff. I did two restaurant scenes, where I had to sit there and “eat” food, and have fake conversation. We also did a big block party scene—that one was really fun, we literally just danced around and had a good time.”

When is the movie going to come out ?

“I don’t know the exact date yet, but it’ll be released this holiday season on the hallmark channel. Make sure you look out for it!”

How long have you been acting?

“I’ve only been in this industry for a year. One year ago today, I’d never done any professional acting work. I’m really new to all of it, but being in the entertainment industry was something i’ve always wanted to do, so last year I decided to start that journey."

How did you find the opportunity ?

“I found it through backstage.com, which is a website where actors find work. It’s like a virtual bulletin board, where casting directors post jobs and you can sign up for them. It’s a really cool website, and it helped me find a lot of opportunities.”

How do you balance this with your other commitments?

“Luckily, a lot of films are flexible with availability. Right now, I’m extremely busy, so I’m just doing background work whenever I have time. I actually have to miss a lot of jobs because I have work, class, student teaching etc. but once I graduate, hopefully I’ll be working on films full time. I can’t wait to see what the future brings me.”

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