Sharneka Waller, 31, always gravitated toward the spotlight in front of the camera. The Milledgeville native got her break last summer when the movie “42” filmed in Macon during a three-week timeframe.
“There were advertisements everywhere about the film needing extras for the movie. One of my good friends was already on set, and he told me to apply for it through CL Casting, so I did,” Waller said. “The director called me and told me to be there Wednesday, June 21 at 5 o’clock in the morning.”
When Waller arrived on set that early, hot morning, she immediately began networking with fellow extras and actors as they waited to complete paperwork and get fitted and measured to transform into their characters.
“They dressed us in 1940s-themed wardrobe. They chose a dress for me, and after I had my makeup done, they put on my wig and hat. Even the men were waiting in line to have their makeup done. Everybody there was from all over the place; some were from Athens, Atlanta and even New York, and they all had a different story to tell,” Waller said. “There was so much food to eat on set and so many food stands and vendors were around. The staff was really nice; anything you needed, they would get it for you.”
Film crews transformed the downtown streets of Macon into the 1940s era, including Luther Williams Field where the game scenes were shot. After lunch, Waller and a few extras made their way to the baseball field to set up in the stadium bleachers.
“My role in the movie was a single African-American woman at a baseball game with her friends. There were even dummies in the bleachers to fill in spots,” Waller said. “During that time period, blacks and whites were separated at the ball games. Blacks had to sit in the hot sun and whites were under a tent. When it was time to film, we had to put away our umbrellas.”
The movie “42” is a biographical film that tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American man to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), and chronicles how he paved the way for minorities in the sport, documenting the hurdles along the way. The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as MLB executive Branch Rickey. The film premiered in theaters across the country Friday. Area extras in the film were invited to a special screening Thursday night at the Macon AmStar 16 Theater.
“Chadwick Boseman was on set, and he was very nice and humble. I didn’t get to meet Harrison Ford because he had just finished filming the day before,” Waller said. “Interacting with other actors and celebrities was no different; everybody was really nice on set.”
Though Waller spent a total of 12 hours on set mostly waiting around, she said her first experience as a mini-movie star could not have been better.
“The day was mostly a lot of waiting and you do get tired and hot, but I loved being pampered,” she said. “The movie was real emotional. They couldn’t have picked a better movie for me to be in. Jackie Robinson made history in baseball, so for me to be part of a historical movie like this feels pretty good. I feel honored to have been chosen to be part of this film.”
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