Tuesday, October 4, 2011

24 Hours with Being Erica's Paula Brancati

We are so lucky to have a special guest post today by Canadian actress Paula Brancati from Being Erica. Paula shares with us her 24 hours....

A typical day on the set of Being Erica is ever-changing; full of surprises, laughter, and delicious snacks from our wonderful craft service team. I am consistently amazed that going to “work” is so much fun.

My day starts at around 4:30 am when I roll out of bed and begin my drive to set. I happily sip on a Tim Hortons coffee as I blast some tunes to pump me up for the day - I’ve been rocking out to eclectic mix CD’s with songs by Joni Mitchell, Nicki Minaj, and Aretha Franklin.

By 6am I am in hair and make-up. This is where I am completely transformed into my crazy, hilariously fun character “Jenny” by our awesome Hair and Make-up team. Carol works her curling iron magic on my hair to get just the right 90’s perm-look perfection required for a 1993 flashback scene and my make up artist and I debate over ridiculously bright make-up colour palettes to reflect Jenny’s attention-grabbing style. I love sitting in the make-up chair and chatting with the hair/make-up team about our weekends and catching up with Erin Karpluk and the rest of the wonderful cast. This is also the perfect time to run lines and get into the headspace required for the scenes we are shooting later on.

At 8am we head off to “block” the first scene of the day. This is where the actors are able to rehearse with the director and experiment with different staging for the scene as the crew sets up the upcoming shot. In past episodes, blocking has also included pole-dancing lessons and a very special Jenny “fight-rehearsal”…. 

One of my favourite things about shooting Being Erica is that we often film on location and prominently feature significant Toronto locations in our stories. In episode #204, Toronto’s Chinatown doubled as Taipei, the backdrop for Erica and Jenny’s dramatic summer adventure flashback. In season one we got to dress up in incredible 90s Halloween costumes and dance our butts off during party scenes shot in the historically rich Casa Loma.

1pm is lunchtime. A little down time to nap, eat and run lines. As much fun as my character is to play, I have had the incredible opportunity to delve deeper into her back-story. There are definitely days on set where I keep to myself and get into a darker headspace. It is a challenge to tackle a character arch that gives glimpses into why Jenny behaves the way she does (see episode #307, “Jenny on the Block” where Jenny and Erica “break-up”) but a challenge that I welcome gladly, and one which I find extremely exciting and gratifying.

4pm is what I affectionately refer to as my “grilled cheese date” with Key Hair stylist Vincent Sullivan. It is the perfect mid-day pick-me-up snack!

Days on set can often last 16-18 hours. The amazing part is, the time flies by! Our crew is just as passionate as the actors are about telling the stories in every episode authentically, and that makes for a truly special workplace.

As I wrap up on set at 9:30pm and head to my car for the drive home, I can’t help but smile. After 12 years of working professionally in film and television, I am still in awe of the fact that “work” often feels like “play”. I am consistently learning new things about myself and growing as an actor and that I am part of a show I am so proud of. I am grateful. 

Being Erica airs Mondays @ 9pm on CBC

Photo credits: David Leyes, CBC

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