As some of you may know, I recently entered into the burgeoning Louisiana film industry. One of the first people I met on a New Orleans set was Susie Labry, or as I like to call her, “Susie Sunshine” . An amazing ambassador for Hollywood South she was quick to offer a welcome, a smile and a crash course on Extras 101. When it comes to mentoring in the biz, Susie is the Yoda of the background extra galaxy. A recently written article about Susie was something I wanted to share. Heres to you Susie Sunshine!
Sharon Denise Talbot
The extra mile
Friday, October 1, 2010
Susie Labry has appeared as an extra in nearly 250 movies and TV shows and is getting more work now than ever.
The closet is a tiny time machine. Inside, vintage dresses, hats, purses, eyeglasses and shoes document familiar fashion trends going back 75 years. The cat-eye glasses and pillbox hats—these are not just Susie Labry’s clothes. This is her wardrobe.
In 2004, the 56-year-old reached into her historical collection and dressed in mid-century threads her mother probably wore. She arrived an hour before call time on the New Orleans set of Taylor Hackford’s Ray Charles biopic, Ray, looking for work. Luckily, the production was in the middle of a major wardrobe shortage, and Labry was whisked swiftly to a production assistant and prepped for the cameras.
“That’s my job,” Labry says, her Yat accent bread-pudding thick. “Got to be ready-ready.”
From actors and crew technicians to legislators, a lot of people are taking the Louisiana film industry more seriously of late, but few have taken it more seriously—and for as long—as Susie Labry. Since her first appearance on the steps of the State Capitol to mourn Huey Long in 1975’s The Life and Assassination of the Kingfish, Labry has worked as an extra in nearly 250 movies and TV shows. What once was a passion—before it became trendy—she has now turned into her profession.
The life of an extra can mean long hours and little recognition for precious seconds of screen time. But the day is structured, the meals are hot and the paychecks arrive two to three weeks later like clockwork. Extras can earn $56 for every eight-hour shift, even if they aren’t needed the full eight hours. They earn $10.50 for every hour after the eighth. Lunch is 30 minutes, catered and free.
The rules are simple. Quiet on the set. No autographs or photos with the stars. No red, white or black clothes unless instructed. Basically, Labry says, follow the casting director’s instructions exactly.
Patient and even-keeled, Labry makes a dependable extra, says Brinkley Maginnis, a local casting director. Labry has met Paul Newman, Dolly Parton, Farrah Fawcett and others, but has never once been star-struck. “Stars are like co-workers to me,” Labry says.
Above all, being an extra gives her the chance to be someone, somewhere, sometime else. And it all starts with her character’s clothes. “It’s like going on a trip when you know you’re on the road and out of Louisiana,” she says. “But that’s a horizontal thing. Putting on a new wardrobe is vertical.”
Labry grew up in New Orleans daydreaming of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and the high-stakes dramas in other politically-themed movies of the silver screen era of Hollywood. In 1973 she was elected as a delegate to the state Democratic Convention, and four years later she graduated from LSU with a political science degree. After LSU, she drifted a bit, she says, taking odd job after odd job. Labry wanted to run for office, or at the very least, remake herself into a political insider with real pull. But with a quirky personality and little means, she wasn’t sure exactly where she fit. “I’m a conservative Jeffersonian Democrat,” she says. “I don’t ride with ideologues. I take one issue at a time.”
Labry remains politically active and is seen here at a rally for U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Labry is, admittedly, no policy wonk. What attracted her to politics was the same thing that had drawn her to acting: the glitz and glamour, the pageantry of it all.
“I don’t care for the debates and controversy and all that,” she says. “I like the promotional aspects of it. It’s the people I like. I’m a people person.”
In the early 1980s, she worked as an extra when she could, though the industry was not nearly as active as it is today. To pay the bills, she worked as a typist for the state. It was an easy job that allowed her plenty of time to do movies and to throw herself into politics as a campaign volunteer in dozens of races, including campaigns for Mayor David Treen, Lt. Governor Fox McKeithen and earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Labry became an enthusiastic extra in the political arena, too. Catch news footage from campaign rallies and victory speeches throughout the years, and chances are Labry will be there, somewhere in the background, her pinched smile and large eyes angling to the camera.
“I’ve always liked being in front of cameras and on TV,” Labry says. “I like the vibe of it. Being connected with history in some way always appealed to me.”
Steady work in Everybody’s All-American, Blaze and The Pistol in the late 1980s was a turning point for Labry’s filmography, and she began thinking of it as a career.
By 2004, Labry was making more money from her roles as an extra than she was working the cash register at Calandro’s. Less than two years after the state’s film incentives program passed the Legislature, Labry took a chance on the movie industry and left the grocery store for good. She didn’t leave just to put her passion for acting into practice, but she used her political bent to lobby for the film industry. Soon she was campaigning again—this time for her fellow actors. Taking a cue from a similar industry network based in New Orleans, Labry began developing and organizing a grassroots, web-based group of extras; ordinary people like her who wanted to make a decent wage in background roles. Part workshop, part social networking group, Labry’s “Baton Rouge Meetup” group disseminates news of casting calls, film screenings and professional development opportunities to locals in the industry.
“Susie is more than just your typical extra,” says Wayne Douglas Morgan, a New Orleans-based actor and producer. “She is quick to help people wanting to get involved into the industry, and her hard work and sheer dedication are infectious.”
Labry with former governor Jimmie Davis in 1982.
In July, Labry shot scenes in Jason Lee’s new detective series Memphis Beat. That followed her appearances in HBO’s post-Katrina hit Treme, the upcoming alien invasion flick Battle: Los Angeles and the Jennifer Garner and Hugh Jackman comedy Butter. Meanwhile, she has a battalion of actors in her group getting work and gaining experience in one of Louisiana’s fastest-growing industries. “Right now at my fingertips I have 100 extras ready to work tomorrow,” Labry says, snapping her fingers.
More significantly, Labry’s long-sought-after political influence finally blossomed last year when her group joined hundreds of other industry professionals and made enough noise to prove to the state Legislature that an indigenous industry, now supported by the state’s film incentives program, was growing. In the face of picket signs and rallies of actors and crew members on the Capitol steps where Labry had made her first TV appearance 25 years earlier, legislators voted to expand the state’s tax credits for film production from 25% to 30% and erased the law’s sunset clause.
It was a huge political win not lost on Labry. She sees the effects of the state’s incentives every day when she slips into character and goes to work on productions across Louisiana. “This is my vacation,” she says. “I’d rather spend it on a film set than laid out on a sun-baked beach.”
http://www.Nolabootcamp.com New Orleans Bootcamp and fitness Boot Camp fat loss methode
Duration : 4 min 5 sec
Visit with the pastor and members of Crown of Life Lutheran Church in New Orleans, LA. Here you are treated like family. This video will give you a taste of what awaits you at this friendly Christ centered Christian church in New Orleans.
Duration : 0:8:15
OK. I swear this restaurant had THE BEST food I have ever had, anywhere, hands down. Problem is that it’s been 3 years and I just can’t seem to replicate their recipe for Eggs Melanzana. It was a breaded and flash fried piece of eggplant with a piece to ham on top Like a ham..it was a smoked meat specific to the area), then a poached egg and then a kind of sauce. Has anyone had this? Does anyone remember better what it consisted of? Anyone know someone who works at Petunia’s or lives in NOLA? I’d almost be willing to PAY for an answer to this one!! We were on our honeymoon & I’d love to re-create it for our anniversary breakfast. Thanks SO much for any info you might be able to give me!
Here is a link that list a booklet that has their actual recipe that you can purchase. (if you scroll down it mentions it specifically is in the booklet and not the video)
Also found this description of it
At Petunia’s, it’s eggplant for breakfast in the Eggs Melanzana dish featuring eggplant rounds breaded with Italian breadcrumbs and deep fried, covered with grilled tomato and grilled sliced ham, topped with homemade hollandaise and a shake of Parmesan.
Around Your Town takes you for a strut through the French Quarter in New Orleans, with a little “LAGNIAPPE” at 3:48 of the vid!
Along the way you will see some of the landmarks that have made New Orleans famous, and a great band on Royal Street performing the 1931 classic song “Egyptian Ella” !
Title: The French Quarter
Film Shot on 1/4/09 & 1/5/09
Location: The French Quarter New Orleans, Louisiana
Movie produced & edited on 24″ iMac using iMovie 06 HD
Gee Three Slick Volume 8 Stabilizer, Anti-Mattes, and Titles
Sound: iLife & Skywalker Sound Effects
Soundtrack: French Quarter Strut – Tucker Conspiracy
Egyptian Ella – Meschiya Lake
Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans – Billie Holiday
Video filmed with Sony DCR-HC52 DVR Handycam
Lenses: Sony VCL-0630X 30mm 0.6x Wide Angle Lens
Sony VCL-2030X 30mm 2x Telephoto Lens
Duration : 0:4:21
Hurricane Katrina – Through my eyes!
Duration : 0:7:5
VIEUX CARRÉ CONFIDENTIAL! (series) episode #2! TJ Fisher and Di Harris adventures! Miss Marion demonstrates her New Orleanian attitude and bounce-back approach to life to TJ and Di: Shake the devil off your back! The secret wisdom for proper second-lining, survival, happiness in the moment and longevity. Miss Marion is a lifelong parishioner of St. Augustine Catholic Church, the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the country, the cornerstone of the city’s jazz music and second-line parade traditions. Miss Marion’s church has historical connections to nearby Congo Square.
At age 82, Creole lady Miss Marion remains the spirited queen of Jazz Funeral second lining, rejoicing and dancing back from the grave. Her effervescent spirit and magic were captured on film Easter Sunday — during her regular work day, with a little dancing weaved in amid her normal-routine duties and responsibilities.This clip was filmed onsite in the ladies’ restroom of the elegant and famed French Quarter Brennan’s Restaurant. (Audible toilets flush in the background.) Miss Marion has served as the establishment’s beloved washroom attendant for four decades, and she walks to work from her historical Tremé neighborhood.
Miss Marion is a living example of New Orleans ability to recover post-disaster, to triumph over sorrow, through a belief in, and a living testament, to the power of faith, hope, prayer, worship, music, dance, courage, collective memory, history, cultural identify, local customs and religious heritage.
Miss Marion says, “What’s life? Life is what you make it. A smile goes a long way.”
Miss Marion poignantly and proudly reveals her wisdom — the counsel of Father Jerome LeDoux, a beloved Afro-American priest — in post-Katrina New Orleans. During storm, Miss Marion lost her home and stayed with the masses at the New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome; post-Katrina her beloved grandsons Damon Brooks, 16, and Ivan Brooks, 17, were murdered in 2007 the 9th Ward. Her story was profiled in The New Yorker (New Orleans Journal) and elsewhere.
Despite breathtaking losses, Miss Marion perseveres and enjoys life, with a smile, joy and celebration, as she continues to take her own advice.
Miss Marion played herself in the Peter Entell documentary, Shake the Devil Off.
Miss Marion dances on video with VIEUX CARRÉ CONFIDENTIAL! (series) mischief-making provocateurs TJ Fisher and Di Harris!
Quirky French Quarter author/Bourbon Street resident TJ Fisher and style maven/artist Di Harris carve a unique niché among New Orleans eccentric notables and flamboyant characters. TJ previous dedicated an original New Orleans-based 2008 nonfiction book to Miss Marion.
TJ and Di are known for their offbeat sense of satire and signature panache — adventuresome hijinks, biting wit, high-octane passion and theatrical style. TJ drives a ’59 pink Caddy convertible named Lulabell, and Di rides a 1968 “My Fair Lady” model banana-seat Stingray. TJ is the accolade-winning author of multiple works of New Orleans-based nonfiction and fiction. Award-winning designer Di is the proprietor of where the stars shop, Zogwald’s of the French Quarter, an ever popular and famed international boutique. (TJ also maintains a home in Palm Beach, Florida and Di in Melbourne, Australia.)
See outrageous Sandcastle Queen TJ Fisher and her idiosyncratic friend and partner in shenanigans Lady Marigny Di Harris in additional Tanzmanianmudbug YouTube postings: http://www.youtube.com/user/Tanzmanianmudbug.
See more about TJ at:
The vintage-style clip of Miss Marion (an afternoon in the life of TJ and Di, and their intriguingly surreal real world) ends with unforgettable imagery of Miss Marion in motion. Miss Marion regularly doles out her inspirational secrets of life and pearls of wisdom to, and is beloved by, an endless parade of superstars, luminaries, VIPs, ladies of society, the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy, common folks.
The duality of New Orleans and French Quarter life seems extreme. Here the unlikely happens frequently; ironic situations and chance meetings are an everyday occurrence. In New Orleans, history is not merely something observed from afar by leafing through the pages of textbooks. The rich cultural heritage of the city’s forebears still shapes, pervades and surrounds daily life. Here the band plays on, and life goes on. Joie de vivre.
HBO and David Simon’s lush new drama series Treme “gets” New Orleans, they definitely get it, do you? Do you get the resilient heart, soul, spirit and humor of the people and places of New Orleans…?
DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS?
Duration : 0:2:14
I am planning a trip next year for Mardi Gras, but I have heard that New Orleans is still a very dangerous place for tourists. Would anyone who lives there or has been there recently confirm this? We are planning to go as a group and will probably rent a pair of SUV’s for the trip. I am concerned that the trucks may make us targets for being robbed.
Oh My God. Do you think that no one else in New Orleans drives an SUV. I will admit that New Orleans has it’s problems, but if you plan on coming to the city for Mardi Gras, just be a smart traveler. Do as you would in any big city. Be aware of your surroundings, make reservations in an area that is safe, try to stay in the vicinity of the festivities, so that you don’t have to drive around a lot. I am going to assume that you are going to frequent Bourbon Street. You can get hotels in the French Quarter, within walking distance of everything. Do your research. Do not wait too long to make your reservations, they will be booked up soon.
If you are still very concerned my suggestion is to make sure you have insurance on the SUV’s, or, choose another destination for your vacation.
And, just FYI… I work in the heart and center of the Central Business District, 5 blocks from Bourbon Street, and I drive an SUV to work every day… a big red on at that, and have been for the past 5 years, and have never been robbed.
Music Video for New Orleans Ladies by Louisiana Leroux. yes this does include 2 clips from Finding Nemo as I was never around the Mississippi river by the time it was needed to be finished.
Also, the miniature pinscher that appears in the video at the point the song goes “sassy style that will drive you crazy” is named Sassy…so I thought she’d be a perfect fit for that part
Duration : 0:4:19