Such is the sound of 4am.
The sun hasn’t even thought about rising yet, so I greet the darkness with a habitual groan as I fumble for the lights. Thankfully I had the foresight to set out my clothes and backpack the night before so I can simply grab-and-go. Once situated in my trusty transportation, I turn on the radio to some lively jams to keep myself awake for the hour drive to the Stages. (If I had a later call time, that hour would easily turn into 1.5-2 hours. Atlanta traffic is fun, lemme tell you…) As I pull up the exit ramp to the Stages, I look over to see Stephen Moyer playing with his two dogs by the treeline with more energy than I can currently muster. With zombie drivers at the wheel, cars fall into line at the front security gate.
The morning shuffle continues.
Still in a zombie-like haze, we meander out of our cars to our respective spots; some to set, some to trailers, some to trucks, and some to catering. Depending on how close I am to call time, I’ll either make a beeline to food or check in with wardrobe. Today is the latter. I wave at the various crew members hurriedly trying to get equipment in place for the morning and to a fresh-faced Jamie Chung out walking her spunky pup, Ewok. I ascend the wardrobe trailer steps to find our lovely wardrobe ladies busily hustling between clothing racks. I normally have my proper colour coverage, but today, I have the special treat of being a photo double. Never knew I could pull off a modern grungy look!
Afterwards, I begin my favourite part of the morning – getting wigged up. (Stand-ins and actors (known as first team) are usually kept separate. But for most of the season, it was insisted that I wear a wig similar to Polaris for lighting purposes.) I pop into the 5th trailer on the line to see Charles, Curtis, Lisa, Jenny, Gambi, and the rest of the lovely men and women of the hair and makeup departments.
No sooner do I enter than a friendly screech is emitted from one of the chairs. “Briaaaaanaaa! I have to tell you what happened this weekend!”
Enter Emma Dumont.
Most actors are friendly, but there is usually minimal interaction between an actor and their stand-in. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be paired with Emma, the bright, bubbly green ray of sunshine she is. I’ll never forget that by day two she declared aloud that we were new best friends. I laughed and figured that was cast-speak for “I like you. We will have fun on set” but no more. Oh I was wrong. Multiple girl brunches at Café Intermezzo and ridiculous midnight pun texts later, I’m happy to say we are actually friends (or as Emma likes to say “Twins for life!”) Emma treats me as an equal (for those of you not in the industry, that’s also not common. Actors tend to be nice to second team, but there is definitely a classist level between the two. But not with Emma. She sees cast and crew as they should be – equal people with different roles). As someone who just got used to the second-rate nature of being a stand-in (after years of being an-even-lower-than background extra), being treated as an equal and person of value by so many people on set of The Gifted is a truly beautiful thing.
30 minutes of many gossip conversations and a weird mix of hair pulling and a head massage later, I shuffle out of the hair and makeup trailer to go to set. I walk into Stage 5 where the coolest set I have ever worked on is housed. Behold the Mutant Underground Headquarters.
A chorus of ‘good morning’s’ greet me as I make my way over to the staircase, under which the stand-ins have made camp. This particular morning I notice a few grips inside installing something. “What’s going on?” I ask.
“We’re getting lights! I don’t know who they’re from, but we’re not the red-headed stepchildren kept in the dark under the stairs anymore!” excitedly says my set best friend, Ashley, who stands in for Amy Acker.
We all watch as string lights encompass our whole seating area. I stare in wonder as this simple, but beautiful gesture. I can read my books now! We take turns trying to guess who might have given us such a gift. Could it be Kay, our resident set mom (aka Jamie Chung’s stand-in), or maybe it was someone from the lighting department, or one of our friendly PA team? Suddenly, a familiar bearded face pokes through one of the wooden slats. “Whatdya think? It was just so dark in here, I thought you might like them,” smiles our beloved executive producer, Derek Hoffman. We fall all over ourselves in such excited gratitude that we almost miss the bellow of “SECOND TEAM” being yelled from set. And off we go!
Time to work.
Stay tuned for Part II…