So, Denzel Washington is in Boston. East Boston, to be exact.
Did you know that?
I was there; I saw him… I spoke to him. Well, okay, I didn’t actually speak to him, I just sort of gawked when he ran by, but there’s a pretty good chance that Denzel Washington is at least vaguely aware of my existence.
Here’s the story:
I was walking casually down the street in Chelsea (don’t ask me why) wearing denim shorts, flip flops, and a homemade, tie-dye purple and black tank top (again, don’t ask me why), when a car pulled up next to me, rolling its windows down.
Ordinarily this would ignite the “flight or fight” response, though in my case it’s 100% flight, 100% of the time, but the occupants of the car were two exceedingly excitable Caucasian women, and, honestly, that in and of itself deserved some attention. The one in the passenger seat leaned out of the window.
“Are you Hispanic?” I am not, in any shape or form, Hispanic, but since her excited curiosity was so palpable, I was intrigued. Therefore, instead of launching into my pre-rehearsed diatribe about race, ethnicity, and stereo-types, I merely proceeded to explain that while I was black and white, she shouldn’t be embarrassed by her gross cultural mistake as it was a common one. She interrupted my well-rehearsed sentiment, clearly not embarrassed,
“That’s close enough- do you wanna be in a movie?” The cultural lesson I was mentally preparing for her was abruptly shoved out of my mind by fantastical thoughts of impromptu stardom. Um, yeah I do!
In less than an hour, I was filling out a 1-9 form at East Boston High School in a cafeteria filled with extras and crew members. I ended up at a table with a group of 8-10 girls who all looked like me, but with varying heights, weights, and hair styles. We were all there to play Hispanics living in East Boston. Ironic, considering none of us were from East Boston, and none of us were Hispanic… yet East Boston was teeming with authentic Hispanics.
Funny how Hollywood works, isn’t it?
Two hours after that, I was standing on a street corner in East Boston, wearing my own clothes and carrying a random Tommy Hilfiger bag with a DKNY lining that they had deemed more “East Boston” than my own Victoria’s Secret bag which had been procured in East Boston.
My job was simple: As soon as the camera, located about 100 feet diagonally across the street from me, turned my way, turn and walk up the street. Denzel Washington would be getting off some bus and running up the street behind me to get to his house.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten my glasses that day and even squinting could not see the motion of the camera, so I missed it the first time. I was standing there, fruitlessly squeezing my eyes together, when Denzel Washington blew by me. I promptly forgot that he was supposed to be there and shrieked,
Since he wasn’t expecting to have his name shrieked by some random girl on set, he abruptly stopped running and turned around, at which point the annoyed voice of the director cut into my star-struck stupor,
Blushing scarlet, I decided to forgo watching the camera and just move when the other extras moved. I waited there, determined not to mess up again and fully committed to my ‘role’. As soon as the woman with her fake baby started walking down the other street, I turned and walked up mine. This time when he ran by me, I was prepared and did not freak out, but, apparently, he turned the wrong corner to get to his house. (He was probably distracted by me; I have a pretty goodlookin’ backside)
As he came jogging back down, he was chuckling,
“I don’t even know where I live!”
The witty comeback I should have answered with came to me a couple of days later, but, at the time, I managed a strangled chuckle and a snort. He didn’t respond, which is perfectly understandable.
The third take was flawless and I was sent home with $150; not bad for four hours of standing around.
If I ever make it in Hollywood, I’m definitely saving this story for our first meeting. Denzel Washington is going to approach me to introduce himself, wanting to play the lead in one of my scripts and I’ll say,
“Don’t you remember? We already met.”