Film & TVuncategorized

My “Extra” Mom: Hamptons Movie Star

I never thought I would call my mom a movie star. Okay, maybe not quite a “star” (yet), but seeing your own mother’s face in the background of a scene on a popular TV show is pretty cool. I interviewed my mom—another previously unfathomable prospect to a 21-year-old daughter—to learn all about her recent foray into background-extra work, especially her local jobs on the set of the hit series “Royal Pains.”
Not that I needed to interview her, because she is so enthused that she talks about it all the time.
Last spring, Katherine Andreassen was faced with empty nest syndrome: my younger sister was graduating high school and heading off to college. A homemaker from when we were toddlers, she decided to re-enter the work force. “I realized I was a dinosaur in the business world,” she says, “and I wondered what I could do to give me another purpose but also be flexible.”
She has a background in acting, she majored in theatre in college, was a “starving actress” in New York for a few years, and she helped start a successful community theatre program in our hometown in New Jersey. Thus, mom chose to work in film and television again, and becoming an extra was a perfect fit.
“I decided, because I have a home in the Hamptons, to start with working on the set of ‘Royal Pains,’ which was looking for local hires for their background extras,” she says. They wanted people with a very ‘Hamptons’ look, and she fit the bill.
Her first job was in the spring of 2011 on location in Southampton. “It was awesome to be working in a place that I have called my part-time home for 25 years,” she exclaims. “Now I was going to be strolling down Jobs Lane and getting paid for it!”
More than just getting paid, mom absolutely loves being on set. She describes it as “very exciting, artistic and fun. There is so much going on around scenes as they’re being shot with lighting people, props, cameras, makeup artists, hair dressers, extras…When you’re watching television, you only see a fraction of what’s really going on.”
It is hard work, too—days are long, often with early-morning call times. There is the added benefit, however, of what sounds like the most amazing food on earth. The show lays out banquets with any kind of food you could ever want — somewhat ironic, I think, considering the perpetual stereotype of actors and actresses constantly dieting.
Throughout all of her stories of being on all kinds of sets, her favorite part is meeting the other extras, actors and crews. Since there are often long waiting periods in between scenes, the extras “can really get to know each other, and perhaps see each other on multiple occasions,” she comments. “I have met people such as other mothers from the Bronx, to aspiring Broadway musical actors, aged from 21 to 75.”
Mom has worked on “Royal Pains” a number of times in different locations throughout Long Island, including Jones Beach, Glen Cove, Oheka Castle and Bay Shore. She has been a patient and visitor in hospital scenes, an attendee at a “divorce celebration” and a party-goer at posh Hamptons events. She has also worked on other shows such as “Blue Bloods,” “Smash” and “Person of Interest,” as well as in some commercials and print ads.
“People ask me all the time when they should watch for me in the shows, and all I keep saying is you just have to keep looking—but keep looking in the background!”
Background extras do not always make it into the episodes that they work on, however, because some scenes wind up on the cutting-room floor. Nevertheless, mom loves the creativity of the process, as well as the flexibility of the job. Prior to becoming an extra, she was technologically challenged; now, she is constantly checking for and submitting to jobs on her newly acquired BlackBerry, which she navigates with the skill of a Wall Street executive.
But she’ll take working on the Eat End any time. “It’s so great that there is a show that portrays life in the Hamptons available for a nationwide audience, because it’s great to share everything that’s beautiful about my beloved Hamptons.”

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