August 23, 2016. It was my sister’s birthday, but she was in Chicago, and I was pulling into a Malibu parking lot just before dawn.
It was kinda freaky being on the dark beach at 5:30am, and some of us weren’t quite sure where to park. Slowly, more and more people pulled their cars into the state beach parking lot, and then got breakfast from the catering truck. Every person I encountered was genuinely nice. Every. Single. One. I was shown my trailer, but had to immediately go into hair & make-up. (My breakfast had to wait, but no worries – my trailer had a microwave!) The make-up artist shared the story of how she met her husband, and we both agreed that Indian men are hot.
The actor sitting next to me extended his hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Justin.” He was very handsome, but I didn’t know what role he’d play in this episode. As I moved across the trailer to the “hair” side, I saw them finishing up with Gina Rodriguez, the show’s star. I’m always a little startled when I’m being made up with a star. Not because I’m starstruck, but because I’m jolted into the reality that we are both here to work. We’re both here to play make believe and create something fun for millions of people. It’s weird. And it’s awesome.
As we arrived on location, the sun was up, a crew of at least a hundred people, and dozens of extras filled the scene. I got mic’d first on my thigh, then the normal way. Not sure why they thought they needed to go up my skirt at first, but sue me – I loved being fussed over by cute men! While we waited for tech set up, Gina, Justin and I sat in our director’s chairs – our director’s chairs! By this time, I had figured out that Justin Baldoni was one of the stars too – doh! Hanging out with them felt so normal. It was easy to ask for a group selfie.
My part was wrapped by 10:30am. I walked back to my car, knowing that I had been part of one of television’s top shows, had been treated like a queen, had worked with the show’s “favorite” director, and casually shot the breeze with TV stars. I didn’t want to leave, so I took off my shoes and rolled up my jeans. I walked straight out onto the beach and waded in the ocean. When I had my fill of playing with the rolling tide and wet sand, I sat down in the sun for just a little longer. The warmth penetrating my skin and the breeze flirting with me felt like …. unconditional love. Yeah, unconditional love.