On Stage To On-Camera: How Two Drama Students Landed a Spot in “The Prom” Movie
By Lauren Knight
On December 11, Netflix released the Ryan Murphy film adaptation of “The Prom,” which included UCI second-year drama students Jessica Spruiell and Hailey Mogul as extras on the production.
Filming just before the pandemic halted TV and film production in Hollywood, both women can be seen in the background of prom scenes within the movie’s final hour, portraying high school students dancing in their vintage prom dresses.
“It was so random, Hailey texted me saying she found a listing on Backstage for extras in ‘The Prom’ and asked if I wanted to go to the open call with her,” said Spruiell. “I said absolutely, and after Hailey put in all of her info, all we had to do was show up.”
In early February 2020, Mogul and Spruiell attended the open call audition for extras in the movie, standing in line with hundreds of other auditionees at The Secret Rose Theater in North Hollywood. Their audition consisted of having their photos and measurements taken in a matter of minutes. Afterward, Spruiell and Mogul exited the theater with the promise of a quick text if they were right for the scenes requiring extras. A week later, they received texts asking them to be in two scenes: a 90s prom flashback starring James Cordon and a present-day prom sequence.
While Spruiell was unable to attend the filming of the second scene, both women spent 12 hours on location for the 90s flashback scene that spanned about 90 seconds of the film. Mogul filmed the second scene in early March, spending 16 hours filming the prom sequence set in the present day.
“What I found is they are really the longest days ever for very short scenes,” said Mogul. “It’s one of those things that – as a musical theater actor – has given me a new appreciation for film acting.”
Both women stated that their first experience as movie extras was tiring but unforgettable, with their favorite moment being James Cordon talking to the group of extras in-between takes.
“This whole filming experience was surreal even though I was a small extra,” said Spruiell. “I remember I looked up and saw the Netflix building and the Hollywood sign behind it, and I had that moment where I just thought, wow.”
When COVID-19 regulations allow for the safe production of movies again, Spruiell and Mogul both plan on returning to Hollywood and experiencing the life of an extra once again.