Book Review

Spotlight on Ruth Kaufman and ‘My Life as an Extra’

mlaae rkBOOK BLURB: Chicagoan Marla Goldberg must rebuild her life at forty-one after an unexpected divorce. While adjusting to singlehood, trying to improve conditions at the radio station where she’s an account executive and fit in with her successful family, she dips her toes into the daunting dating pool.

Marla yearns to fulfill her dream of being a working actor, yet can’t quite believe, “Leap and the net will appear.” Working as an extra teaches her meaningful lessons, but she must learn what for her is the hardest lesson of all: how to feel special when you’re not the star.

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My heart starts to race. A famous, award-winning director has noticed me. Will he pluck me from obscurity? Will I be upgraded to a slightly better role and higher pay, or will he even give me a line, a boon bestowed on rare occasion?

“I don’t like the way her scarf is blowing.” The director walks down the row of extras and borrows a dark green, fringed wool one from some guy. For a second the guy’s face perks up. I know he thinks he’s going to be moved to a better place in the shot, my place, but Adam, if I may be so bold, just wants his scarf. I put it on and a wardrobe person safety pins it to my coat.

“Rolling….” a voice calls.

“Rolling!” several people echo.

“Picture’s up.”

“Background action!”

Leaning over the wind machines as the train rolls by, I and the others brave icy blasts. My hair and the borrowed scarf blow straight up. The cold has pierced my coat and layers, so I’m shivering harder. I know my nose is bright red. The woman beside me jumps up and down.

We endure a few more takes.

Adam comes toward me again. My heart starts pounding again. Why an intelligent person such as myself gets nervous because a famous movie director approaches is beyond me, but I can’t seem to help it. I hope I’ll get to do something good and fear I did something wrong at the same time.

“Will you step out of the shot, please?” he asks.

My stomach drops. I do fear I’ve done something wrong. That even as a train-platform-standing-in-the-freezing-cold extra, I’m not good enough. I move to the side and watch forlornly as they do more takes, all these people crammed into such a narrow space doing their best for Superhero IX. Except me.

A few minutes later, Adam comes over. I can’t help it, I perk up just like scarf guy. The director of a major motion picture actually left his chair to find me.

“You can come back now,” he says. “It wasn’t the same without you.”

A wave of joyous warmth washes over me. How nice is that. My day is made.

Later, we’re working on a different shot on the other side of the platform. Adam comes over yet another time. I suck in a breath. My icy hands get icier.

“Great reaction.”

My face is probably so red from the cold he can’t tell I’m blushing. It’s the wind making my eyes tear up.

The Adam Markham probably won’t remember me or those shots, for him just two of many in one movie of many, but I’ll never forget how nice he was. The way he knew how to make an extra feel like an actor. Feel talented and special.

On the drafty train platform, inspiration hits me hard as a wind machine gust. If Adam Markham thinks I do a good job on camera, maybe others will, too.

The once-familiar urge to perform, to entertain and move an audience, unfurls in my chest in a fiery burst like a phoenix spreading its wings. My first lines in a Kindergarten play made the crowd laugh and inspired me to be an actress…someday. But everyone knows acting is a risky, unreliable career. Would I be good enough? Find the elusive mix of right place, right time, right roles?

Today made me realize how much I’ve missed acting. I’d repressed the bug, but it still bit. I’d lost two dreams: a successful, loving marriage and gorgeous house. I would find a way to make this dream come true.

Someday is now.

rkAUTHOR BIO: Ruth Kaufman is a Chicago author, on-camera and voiceover talent and freelance editor and speaker with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV.

The second book in her Wars of the Roses Brides series, FOLLOW YOUR HEART,  releases April 14. Writing accolades include Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner and runner up in RT Book Reviews’ national American Title II contest. Her true, short story, “The Scrinch” is in the St. Martin’s Press anthology The Spirit of Christmas, foreword by Debbie Macomber.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Blog Gainfully Unemployed / Facebook  or Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon Author Page


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