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My Turn: Newsday ad got me in an Adam Sandler movie

Daria Hong in one of the photos taken

Daria Hong in one of the photos taken by her son in 2017. Credit: Thomas Hong

The summer before last, I got the surprise of my life. I was reading through the movie listings in Newsday when I spotted an ad that read “seeking local residents of Long Island for extra work in a Netflix feature film, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.” Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve wanted to be in a movie.

Years ago, I had my headshot taken and sent it to a few casting agencies. At that time, casting agents wanted to meet you in person, which usually meant dressing up and going into the city. I never pursued extra work then because of my job, but this opportunity was too good to resist.

The shoot was for two days and only 20 minutes from my house. All I had to do was send a photo of myself (selfies accepted) and information, such as my height, weight and the days I would be available to work. I grabbed my cellphone and asked my 10-year-old son to take a few photos of me in front of my house. After selecting my best photo and providing all the information the casting agent requested, I sent my email to the address on the ad.

The next day, I received an email response stating that I had been selected to work on the Adam Sandler and Chris Rock comedy for Netflix called “The Week Of.” I was so excited you would have thought that I had been nominated for an Academy Award!

The morning of the shoot, I heard rain pouring outside my window. My scene involved watching a Little League game in the stands. The call time was 6:30 a.m. I drove to the parking lot of St. Patrick’s Church in Glen Cove, and a bus drove the whole group of extras to a field with a big tent. For the next hour, we signed in. I was instructed by the casting agency to bring a U.S. passport to complete the I-9 form and to wear typical summer clothes for the ballgame.

After helping myself to the breakfast buffet my number was called, and a group of us went to wardrobe and makeup. The wardrobe person approved my casual shorts and shirt. Then I went to makeup, where I thought I’d get a little makeover. Unfortunately, the makeup artist just asked me if I wanted sunscreen.

Later on we boarded a bus to City Stadium Park, about 10 minutes away. The production assistants told us to stand on the bleachers. The director, Robert Smigel, began rehearsing a scene in which Adam Sandler is pushing an old, decorated war veteran in a wheelchair while arguing on his phone. We were all instructed to clap as they entered the ballpark.

Thirty minutes later, we were back on the bus because of the rain. The showers wouldn’t let up so the bus took us back to the tent for an early lunch buffet. Then we boarded the bus and sat there for two hours until the rain passed.

When we got back to the ballpark, the director set up the same scene. This time, however, some extras were positioned near the snack bar and others were told to stroll by. I stood in the stands holding my props: a half-eaten hamburger and a soda. It was so interesting to watch everything happening around me.

At one point, the director ushered a few of us over for a shot in which we thank the decorated veteran for his service. We filmed that scene about five times. After that I watched the production crew set up another scene of the crowd cheering in the stands.

That night I got home around 7 p.m. Before I left for the day, the extras were told that the second day of shooting would be canceled. I was disappointed, but I also felt satisfied with my 10-hour work day.

The movie was released on Netflix this past April. I was so happy I made the cut. Not only was I in a movie, but it came out “the week of” my birthday.

— Daria Hong,

Garden City

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