I’ve always been the person who says “yes” to all the opportunities that come my way, no matter how challenging or even random they might appear. You learn so much about yourself when you push yourself out of the comfort zone and discover new things that you haven’t experienced before. Moreover, I’ve always thought that we probably regret the things that we haven’t done much more than those that we have. So when a casting agency approached me with an offer to become an extra in a Bollywood movie, I said a firm yes without even thinking of the technicalities because those can always be figured out later.

My acting aspirations

My previous experience in acting has been quite limited. I used to attend acting lessons at the Moscow English Theatre but those lessons were more about English than they were about acting. I also once played Alice in “Alice in Wonderland” in one of the school plays, the script to which I ended up writing with my friend because no one was bothered about it. There was a brief moment in my childhood when I was convinced that I’d be cast in the Harry Potter movies, and then there was a fairly short period around my sixteenth birthday when I suddenly decided that I wanted to go to an acting school and even went to an audition. I guess the mind of a teenager is truly a mystery but shortly after that audition I got my priorities straight and focused primarily on my music. Acting career has never been mentioned since then and the only acting I have been doing up until this month have been acting like I have my life together.

Being cast as an extra

A few years ago I went to Northern Ireland for a short holiday where I heard multiple stories about people getting cast as extras in Game of Thrones. It seemed like a super-efficient way to get a glimpse of the movie magic and peek behind the scenes. Working hours for extras were always long and required a lot of waiting around but the pay was decent and, most importantly, the experience was fun and incredibly special. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of Game of Thrones? I joked that I’d happily fly to Belfast whenever needed, and some part of me probably would’ve if the opportunity presented itself, but with no offers coming my way and with the holiday coming to an end, I returned to Bristol and moved on with my life.

Bristol itself also seems to attract a lot of moviemakers. Shoots happen around the city all the time but, sadly, I’d always find out about them too late when the production was either finished or was going in full force. I think if I did have my eyes on the prize I’d definitely find a way to get involved in a shoot of some kind but as my acting ambitions were quite low on the list of my priorities, I never really explored all the possible avenues for boosting my acting profile.

It was when I saw an advert in Bristol Post that The Spanish Princess was looking for extras, I decided to take a chance. I heard a lot about the show and immediately emailed the casting agents as was requested in the advert. To maximise my chances, I also registered with the agency to make sure that my email wouldn’t get lost and I would actually get considered. Sadly, time passed but nothing happened and so I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t successful.

However, weeks later, I finally got the confirmation that the agency had accepted my registration and shortly after I received my first job as an extra. I was cast in a Bollywood movie, the shoot of which was happening in London in 2 days with further details provided the day before. Would I like to go? Absolutely yes!!!

Rising Star of Bollywood

On the day of the shoot, I woke up at 5 am to do my hair and makeup and at 7 am I was already driving on the motorway towards London. It was my first solo long-distance trip and I never drove around Central London before, so I was a little bit nervous but clearly very determined. After a bunch of incorrect turns that took me to the other side of the river and one potentially missed red light, I finally reached the carpark and headed to the set that was built around a beautiful old-fashioned school building.

It’s true what they say about waiting around on the set. After signing in, we were asked to wait for further instructions and the first activity we took part in was actually lunch break. So, technically, we were paid to come to a large room to sit around there for hours after which we were fed some amazing curry. What a dream job! And even though I was keen to get involved in the actual shooting process, I still made the most out of my waiting time and chatted to quite a few amazing people there. Some were professional extras who’d been doing this as a full-time job for years, whereas others were starting out actors, fresh out of a drama school, who came to be an extra on their day off in between other auditions that their brand new agents got for them. There were people who openly admitted that they were there just for the money and had no interest in taking part in the actual shoot, and there were also a lot of people like me, who were doing something like this for the first time, who were excited beyond limits and found everything and everybody absolutely fascinating!

Finally, the moment to shine in front of the cameras had come and we were called on set to take part in various scenes. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to tell you the details until the movie is out but the whole experience was incredibly fun, chaotic, quite repetitive and very cold, fast-paced and so-so-so-so great! I had an amazing time even though I felt exhausted and unwell the next day. Who would have thought that standing in the puddle for 40 minutes in dolly shoes is not good for your health?

At 9 pm I was free to go and had a monotonous 3-hour journey back to Bristol on a dark and empty motorway. I was home at around 12 am and at my desk in the office at 9 in the morning. My little adventure came to an end but I was incredibly inspired by all the stories I’d heard from other cast members and all the opportunities that might come my way through similar jobs in the future.

Am I going to be an actor now?

The first question I was asked when I told my friends and family what I did over the weekend was whether I was changing careers and planning a move to LA. I guess they know me well enough to not eliminate it as an option I’d go for. I assured them that I wasn’t moving to LA just yet and that my heart was still in my music but at the same time I’d happily pursue acting more seriously if I get an opportunity. Music career requires a lot of promotion and getting features in various movies would be nothing but beneficial. So if you know an agent or a movie director, feel free to send them my way! In the meantime, I’d be really grateful, if you could pre-order a copy of my upcoming EP here, and tell your music-loving friends about this new artist slash wanna-be actor that you’ve been kindly supporting.